Decided to see Atomic Blonde after watching Charlize Theron talk about the film at Comic Con. She teased the high-action thriller by showing a preview fight scene in a stairwell and I was hooked. What could only be described an intense single scene translated into a highly enjoyable film filled with stylized action, edgy cinematography, and a unique presentation which only added to the ride.
Directed by David Leitch in essentially his directorial debut on the big screen, the film is clean, focused, and moves along at a nice pace — which is interesting because Leitch has 19 assistant director/second unit credits and 83 stunt or fight choreography credits. Clearly Leitch rose through the ranks and has put his hard earned skills to use in Atomic Blonde to great effect.
Charlize Theron, plays Lorraine Broughton, an English MI-6 agent who is sent to Berlin in 1989, just as the wall is coming down. The backdrop of chaos sets a nice foundation for a traditional spy story of asset protection while playing a game of spy-outwit-spy on a brutal scale. Theron plays her role to perfection with high level espionage, devastating (read: realistic) hand-to-hand combat sequences, wrapped in a staggeringly elegant package. Speaking of realistic, at San Diego Comic Con 2017, Theron explained she wanted to be sure the fight sequences were realistic for a woman. Sure enough, elbows, knees, and body-weight mechanics were deployed by Theron with graceful execution. No cut-aways or tight shots but mostly long and wide angles showing Theron doing some serious damage. Much like Keanu Reeves in John Wick, Theron clearly put in significant effort to ensure the fight sequences rang true and I found myself uttering, “Oh” and Ah” at the speed of delivery — which can also be said for the pace of the film.
Atomic Blonde continues its steamy journey through the back alleys of Berlin as Broughton chases clues, escapes hectic situations, and works to protect some and expose others. Audiences are treated to a sexy, fast-paced journey, where the plot stays within reach, and you find yourself wondering who is working for whom throughout the chaos. In this two-hour journey, I never found myself bored or looking for a snack run — the plot simply didn’t allow those kind of distractions.
Atomic Blonde ended with a nice, slightly surprising wrap and I was left smiling at the conclusion. This (potential) franchise is a welcome addition to the spy thriller genre and I look forward to seeing Theron continue to develop the stylized Lorraine Broughton in more interesting ways. More please.