Atomic Blonde Review
Let's get one thing out of the way first. "Atomic Blonde" as action set pieces is pretty kick-ass. If you've ever wanted to see Charlize Theron really kick some serious butt as a lead action star, then look no further. She is a tornado of fury in this movie. Theron creates a commanding, powerful and most important of all, believable persona in this movie. She has done very good dramatic work in the past, and putting those action skills to the test almost look like muscles you've never been able to flex before. She feels unleashed in this movie, in the best possible way.
Another thing I liked about her character is she is allowed to be vulnerable here. We care about her more because her character comes across more human. She isn't merely playing an invulnerable superhero simply because she can. She gets bruised here, she bleeds here, every punch she suffers in this movie looks like it hurts. She has the same vulnerability you see in the Daniel Craig "James Bond" movies or The Jason Bourne series. Those little details matter in making sure the audience cares for the characters, and on that front they succeed. And for all of the perverts of the world, there are a couple hot make-out sessions between Charlize and Sofia Boutella that I sure will have you squirming with joy.
If I based this entire review on the action scenes, I'd probably give the movie an A+. There are quite a few in the movie itself, and there is a good reason why the movie has continuously been compared to "John Wick." This is raw, unseasoned action of the highest order. These are fast-paced action scenes that are not nuanced by shaky cam. We see every punch land and everything break and its wildly exciting. There is a great cast of supporting characters including James McAvoy, John Goodman, Bill Skarsgaard, Til Schweiger, and Boutella. This is about Cold War spies, some of my favorite history we can read about. In the backdrop of the late 1980's, and the music used in the film is apart of the fun, and apart of the appeal. There is absolutely no reason for me not to love this movie. How can you fuck up a Cold War spy movie, set in the late 1980's with Charlize Theron as the star?
Well I don't want to oversell you. "Atomic Blonde" isn't a terrible movie. Its not even a bad movie. I was celebrating most of this movie. The only thing I find to be a disservice to the entire experience was that screenplay. So much of it feels ripped off of "The Usual Suspects" that its almost laughable. But imagine putting "The Usual Suspects" in a blender with M. Night Shyamalan's "The Village" and its over-abundance of twist endings, and you can see where this is heading, story-wise. Oh, but spy movies are supposed to have twists and turns. Yes, I understand that. But when they are so blatantly borrowed from other movies, that becomes more of a distraction than anything else. Are we really reaching a point where all future original ideas are going to be pieces of other movies without any clear, new thought involved? Any movie can go overboard with their reveals at the end. There comes a point where it doesn't feel clever and feels more like a prank. "Atomic Blonde" edges closer to joke than cleverness.
If anything, I kind of hope that "Atomic Blonde" becomes a series of films. I love Charlize in the role. I love the action sequences of the film. I was impressed by the world created in this one movie, and it is a place I'd be willing to visit again a few years down the road. I hope the sequel spawned from this tell better stories. Theron deserves more in the story department, that is for damn sure. There are so many things a series could expand on and improve on and I surely hope there is enough money made from this property that this can become a reality.
For now, Charlize Theron kicking butt to "Blue Monday" will be one of my favorite images I saw in a movie theater so far this year. I hope you think so too. Even though the script lets the experience down to a degree, "Atomic Blonde" is absolutely worth seeing.
FINAL GRADE: B+