Based on a graphic novel The Coldest City, published back in 2012, Atomic Blonde is a Charlize Theron’s pet project. She spent five years developing it, and after the enormous success of Mad Max: Fury Road, this action-packed eighties galore was ready for production. First things first, this is one of those movies that just keeps giving and giving. I jumped right into it, without watching the trailer or cast, so when familiar faces started popping up, the excitement started to grow and grow until it reached a critical point with the appearance of Sofia Boutella (she’s that chick with razorblade legs in Kingsman). I climaxed when she kissed Charlize. After a very wobbly reboot of The Mummy, we finally got the chance to see her in something with quality. James McAvoy was his standard delirious self and the rest of the cast was also up to the task. Coming to us from the directing crew of John Wick, who also worked on numerous other projects in the stunt department, Atomic Blonde is truly a stunt paradise. For the first time, we’re able to see a bad-ass female character realistically fighting the bad guys (who are all men). First thing I remembered when I saw that were the movies Columbiana and Salt and how their stunts looked childish in comparison with this no-holds-barred slugfest.
It is the year of our lord Satan 1989 in divided Germany and David Hasselhof is leading the charge to freedom with his music, uniting Germans in an effort to tear down the wall that has kept them separated for decades. In the midst of all this, spy games are going on in the background, as they always inevitably do. MI6 agent James Gascoigne just got a hold of a special watch, containing microfilm with names of all the active agents and their dirty deeds, but before he can get it to London, he’s killed by a Russian agent Yuri Bakhtin. With the microfilm in Russian hands, MI6 decides to call one of their best agents Lorraine Broughton to go to Berlin and retrieve the microfilm.
With impeccable pacing and almost noir atmosphere, Atomic Blonde makes time fly. Granted, there may have been a couple of artsy sections at the expense of the immersion. They reminded me of French cinema, with darker tones and chick style. Also, smoking and drinking was featured heavily, sometimes the whole thing looked too set up, but you have to realize that this is a graphic novel adaptation. Reading all this, you might think that the story suffered because of the visuals and action, but I assure you that this is not the case. There are twists and turns, little details that make the movie feel realistic and immersive, so one might dare to say that this is one of the best graphic novel adaptations in the last couple of years. And there have been a lot of them.
P.S. Oddly enough, about two days after I checked out this movie, I finally gave The Orville the chance and wouldn’t you know it, Charlize makes a sudden appearance. Check out the series, it is hundreds of light-years better than the current Star Trek incarnation, that I will not mention (it will soil this review).
Director: David Leitch
Writers: Kurt Johnstad, Antony Johnston, Sam Hart
Cast: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Eddie Marsan, John Goodman, Toby Jones, Sofia Boutella, James Faulkner
Fun Facts: Use of the Wilhelm scream during the apartment fight as Lorraine is jumping out of the window.