"Check it – you'll love my Ronda Rousey circa 2014 impression!" Charlize Theron shows why she is MI6's most lethal assassin in a scene from ATOMIC BLONDE. Credit: Jonathan Prime © Focus Features. All rights reserved.


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Til Schweiger, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella, James Faulkner, Bill Skarsgärd and Toby Jones

WRITER(S): Kurt Johnstad (screenplay);  Antony Johnston & illustrator Sam Hart (The Coldest City graphic novel on which the movie is based)

DIRECTOR(S): David Leitch


HERE'S THE STORY: Based on the graphic novel The Coldest City, Atomic Blonde stars Charlize Theron as Lorraine Broughton, an undercover Mi6 agent being brought in Cold War Berlin in 1989 to go track down who has killed a fellow agent. Lorraine is also tasked with finding out who has the list of agents' names that led to someone to find her colleague and murder him in the first place, which, given how it could lead to the murder of dozens of agents, is kind of a big deal, too.

So, once Lorraine learns that once she arrives in Berlin, she needs to meet up with David Percival - who has as Eric Gray (Toby Jones) and American CIA represent Emmett Kurzfeld (John Goodman) tell her - has "gone native" (a.ka. potentially gone rogue) while at the same time attempting to protect a man known simply as Spyglass (Eddie Marsan) that has committed the list to memory. Then again, once she actually does arrive in Berlin and several Russian KGB agents try to kill her as soon as she gets in town and an alluring French woman named Delphine (Sofia Boutella) stars following her around, Lorraine isn't sure who to trust.

(In case you're lost, the KGB wants the list, the Mi6 wants the list ... And why is the CIA there? Who knows ...)

But as Lorraine is about to show all those who try to attack her, she is more than up to the task of kicking ass and taking names (especially as it related to her completing her mission of retrieving the names on that list).

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? Feminists; people tired of waiting on Marvel to make a female super hero movie; people who liked Wonder Woman but wished it had more of a The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo-edge; people who liked The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo; Charlize Theron fans; anyone who enjoys it when James McAvoy plays not-so-upstanding characters; anyone needing fitness motivation.

WHO WON'T (OR SHOULDN'T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? People who will find the plots twists and turns to be twisty and turning for the sake of making the movie more dramatic than need be; anyone who complains about fight sequences in movies not being realistic enough (although this movie is much more realistic by far than nearly every other action movie of the last few years); anyone upset by the lesbian imagery, profanity or bursts of EXTREME violence; those wishing to see Theron stick with more intellectually stimulating roles vs. physical ones 

SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? Let me be brief - Atomic Blonde doesn't feature what could be that original of a story (spies ... They do awful things and have to save the world - who knew? Oh that's right, everybody) ... But it delivers exactly what it needs to: A movie with a cool lead character, strong showings from its supporting players and adrenaline-induced sequences that may inspire women nationwide to enroll in some martial arts training thanks to Theron's all-in performance.   

This is one of those movies that's all about the lead and Theron doesn't disappoint as Lorraine - she's sultry, she's strong, shes seductive - all while carrying a sense of both vulnerability and a silent sensibility that add nuance to a character that, without it, might just be another Aeon Flux (and it might be fair to assume Theron would like you to forget about that movie). She flexes muscle when needed but also takes a pounding under the direction of David Leitch, who proves he knows just how long to let a sequence - both action and dialogue-heavy - go on to bring you into the character's world. While you obviously know the fight sequences are heavily choreographed, the intensity of the action found therein makes that fact irrelevant. This is Theron at her best, creating a character that is totally 100% believable in what she does.

This is not to suggest McAvoy doesn't deliver his usual stellar work, which he does as Percival, a man you're never quite sure who's side he is on until the very end. McAvoy plays his role well, giving him a slight bit of both charm and deception to maximize the most of his time on screen. Boutella is fine in her role as well, although there are times where she lays things on just a little too heavy as a would be femme fatale to Theron's character. 

Save for McAvoy's character, however, too many of the male characters feel like accessories to the plot/too naive for their own good. While Jones' is a fine actor and has been down the road of spy movies before, his character - along with that of James Faulkner's as the big boss behind the one-way glass window - is a standard guy in suit, tie and badge reminding the person he's interviewing that he's the guy in charge and he wants answers even though he's obviously overmatched physically and mentally by his subject. Throw in a little bit of predictability in regards to certain characters and the would-be history lesson regarding the fall of the Berlin Wall (which really doesn't have a strong connection to the story other than serving as the backdrop for when it takes place) and you end up waiting more for Theron to fight than you do the plot to keep progressing.

Then again, when you have a woman decimating KGB agents to the soundtrack of "99 Luft Balloons," what more do you really need?




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