Berlin. 1989. With the Berlin Wall about to fall, a lethal MI6 agent is tasked to retrieve a list of names with life or death consequences for all involved.
Atomic Blonde is an espionage action film, based on the 2012 graphic novel The Coldest City by Sam Hart. The film is the directorial debut of David Leitch, who’s directing experience prior to Atomic Blonde includes the Deadpool short, No Good Deed, that served as promotion for Deadpool 2 and as co-director for John Wick, which he was not credited for.
Charlize Theron plays the lead character in Atomic Blonde, and she does so just as well as I assumed she would. The main supporting character is played by James McAvoy. Other prominent characters are played by John Goodman, Sofia Boutella (The Mummy), Til Schweiger (Inglorious Basterds), Toby Jones (The Hunger Games), and Bill Skarsgård (It).
I was pretty excited about this film from the moment I first saw a trailer for it. The action sequences paired with the music in the trailer were just so exciting for me. I knew I had to see it. I missed it in theaters, so I was bummed about that, but I was still really excited to watch this.
I’ll start by saying that Atomic Blonde isn’t a perfect film. It definitely has its flaws. Most of these flaws came down to the story. There are a lot of positives about it that manage to balance out a lot of the problems I had. In the end, I really enjoyed it, so let’s get into some details.
Atomic Blonde is really stylized. It looks really, really cool. It’s full of vibrant colors and costumes. The set design is really captivating. The soundtrack is amazing. I saw a lot of people describing this film as being style over substance, and I completely agree with that assessment. It is extremely stylized. It stands out in that way.
What really pushes this movie forward, in addition to a solid performance from Theron, are the action sequences. Similar to John Wick, the action sequences in Atomic Blonde are realistic, well choreographed, and brutal. I loved it. If I could walk down a line of the people involved and give a round of applause to each of them individually, I would do it. In the same way that the action sequences were the compelling part of the trailer, they also propel the film to better heights than it would have reached on story alone.
As for the story, this is definitely where the flaws of Atomic Blonde lay. It’s kind of flat. I definitely would have liked to see things a bit more fleshed out.
Overall, for a movie about espionage, the story is pretty flimsy. If you take out Charlize Theron and take out those awesome action sequences, it doesn’t carry as well. There are a lot of holes that are glossed over by the style of it all. The twists and turns tend to feel like they come out of left field at times, rather than being calculated story elements.
I would never argue with someone that said Atomic Blonde was an example of style over substance. It definitely is. The fight scenes won me over for this one. Without them, my review of this film probably would not have as many positive elements.
If you’re not a fan of brutal action sequences, then you might want to skip Atomic Blonde. The story doesn’t hold enough water to satisfy without them. I just like seeing Charlize Theron kick some butt. There are definitely better movies set during the Cold War era. There are definitely better espionage stories to spend your time on.
If you liked the action sequences in John Wick though, and you want to join me in watching Charlize Theron kick some butt, then you may want to give Atomic Blonde a watch.
Check out the trailer that sold me below!