Atomic Blonde: Too Many Walls

Posted July 28, 2017

But hey, why not hold the filmmakers to a minimum standard of sensibility?

She's partnered with Berlin station chief David Percival (James McAvoy), a hot mess of a spy his MI6 superiors fear has "gone native".

A list of every one of Her Majesty's secret agents has been stolen by Russian defector, codename "Spyglass" (Eddie Marsan).

The moment Lorraine sets foot in Berlin, however, things go sideways. Her mission to Berlin is told via flashback as Broughton narrates the events of the past week to a cabal of suits from MI6 and the Central Intelligence Agency, including CIA boss Emmett Kurtzfeld (John Goodman) and her MI6 handler Eric Gray (Toby Jones).

Photo Ms. Theron as Lorraine Broughton, who is dressed to kill.

David Leitch is better known for his stunts than he is for his direction, but he is nevertheless the man who helped to create John Wick and is hard at work on the second instalment of Deadpool. (One unfortunate adversary gets knocked out by a conveniently placed freezer door.) It's less fun to follow the fairly incoherent plot: Leitch, a former stunt coordinator, is no storyteller, though he's a dab hand with an action sequence.

When the story of "The Atomic Blonde" officially begins, we see a ceiling shot from the back of Charlize Theron immersed in a tub full of ice. This film is, in many ways, his stylistic debut: that moment where a director discovers his/her own unique vision and voice. Theron doesn't so much as dominate "Atomic Blonde" as steadily subjugate every other soul in the film - and those in the audience - into her complete command.

If you love action, Friday brings a real treat for you with Atomic Blonde. It's a thriller. The fight continues into an apartment, out onto the street and into a auto, and keeps going for what feels like 10 full minutes. But it's also a first-rate action film that delivers.

One is Leitch's facility with an action scene.

The movie also has a great performance from James McAvoy, who plays another wild card agent in Berlin.

And it never, ever lets you forget it. Adapted from a 2012 graphic novel entitled The Coldest City by Sam Hart and Antony Johnston, the movie is pure stylized violence. That's not to say that actors don't show up and give it 100 percent because we know they do, but is it a different situation when they're also invested as more than just an actor? The exhausted, uninspired dialogue slows "Atomic Blonde" too often, and the movie would've been better served by a leaner screenplay and edit.

With her ferocious turn in Mad Max: Fury Road, Charlize Theron went from Oscar-winning actress to Hollywood's most badass action heroine.

She can demolish a veritable army of goons wielding automatic weapons and switchblade knives by punching and kicking them into oblivion. X-Men's James McAvoy is a scene-stealer as Percival, walking the flawless line between lovable cad and unscrupulous scumbag, in order to keep you guessing. Both look great beating up or shooting antagonists in director David Leitch's (John Wick) action movies, but her less-than-ergonomic footwear makes her on-screen hand-to-hand combat seem more impressive.

Sensational. Jason Bourne and James Bond - this is the genre's alpha successor. Atomic Blonde can be meandering, sometimes indulgent, but its strong scenes - however infrequent - overpower the weak ones. And a nearly-10-minute, apparently uncut fight-and-flight sequence is an eye-popping wonder, made all the better for not portraying Broughton as some invincible warrior or her foes as susceptible to being rendered unconscious by a single blow. Keeping that in mind, Atomic Blonde is a certainly a logical progression for Leitch. The question you need to answer is do you want joyless, completely self-unaware stupid like Transformers or a movie that is in on the joke enough to revel in what it is without insulting you for enjoying it?