RW Review: Atomic Blonde
Rating: R | Runtime: 1h 55min
Director: David Leitch | Writer: Kurt Johnstad
Cast: Charlize Theron (Lorraine Broughton), James McAvoy (David Percival), John Goodman (Emmett Kurzfeld), Toby Jones (Eric Gray), James Faulkner (Chief ‘C'), Sofia Boutella (Delphine Lasalle), Til Schweiger (Watchmaker), Bill Skarsgård (Merkel)
Spoiler Free Plot Synopsis:
Let's kick things off with a tidbit of info you may not know and that is that Atomic Blonde is based off a graphic novel. The film is based on the Coldest City series which consists of The Coldest Winter and The Coldest City. With that, I decided to pick up The Coldest City and checked it out on my Kindle before seeing the movie.While the film had plenty of elements from the graphic novel, it brought a lot more to the table – but we're not here to talk about the book, we're here to talk about the flick so let's get to it!
The film follows the exploits of MI6 operative Lorraine Broughton (Theron) who is sent to Berlin to not only investigate the murder of a fellow agent (who happens to be her lover), but to also recover a list of undercover operatives that the fallen agent had in his possession at the time of his death. The plot, for the most part, is textbook spy flick and while we've seen it before the high point of the plot was its stylish execution. The film taking place in 1989 not only showcased all the pivotal moments of the Cold War's end but also used a stellar soundtrack from the late '80's which should have got its own casting credit.
Lorraine's contact in Berlin was MI6 agent David Percival (James McAvoy) who had already been embedded in the country for quite some time and was working his own agenda throughout the course of the film. Percival was played masterfully by McAvoy, who tends to really shine when he is playing more gray characters on film. His boyish charm and snarky demeanor really added to the character and his chemistry with Theron was solid and seemed incredibly natural.
Sofia Boutella, unfortunately, was once again relegated to being an afterthought and eye candy with minimal character development. It really is a shame as Boutella has a great mix of intensity and beauty which fans saw firsthand previously in Kingsman.
One of the elements we saw quite a bit of in the trailers were the fight scenes which definitely had a lot of similarities to the gritty and intense fights seen previously in John Wick. Theron definitely put in work to make the fights look fluid. The gunplay was also solid and eerily familiar to what has become the norm thanks to John Wick‘s success. Overall, the film felt like a cross between the first half of Casino Royale and the first John Wick installment which are not bad films to be compared to, especially when director David Leitch was part of the duo that brought John Wick to the big screen in the first place.
I am curious if they intend on this film becoming a franchise as the ending definitely left the door open for more of Ms. Broughton's adventures.
David Leitch's solo debut, while heavily borrowing quite a few elements from John Wick, came armed with a solid cast and a stellar soundtrack which made a textbook spy flick an enjoyable Saturday morning diversion. If you appreciate good intense fight choreography and spy thrillers then you should give Atomic Blonde a shot. While it's no John Wick it definitely stands shoulder to shoulder with it.