Movie Review: Atomic Blonde (2017)

Atomic Blonde, adopted from the graphic novel The Coldest City, is set in Berlin, November 1989, right before the fall of Berlin Wall.

Charlize Theron plays Lorraine Broughton, M16 agent, who has been sent on a mission to Berlin in the aftermath of a murder of a fellow agent James Gasciogne (Sam Hargrave). Lorraine is to meet the M16 station chief David Percival (played by James McAvoy) and their task is to recover a list of the secret agents, that was stolen from Gasciogne. The story is told by Lorraine after she returns to London, in what seems to be a debrief session with her superiors.

In a typical fashion of a spy film, characters don’t trust, lie and deceive each other. On top of that, the lines between nobility and goodness are obscured and it is dubious as to who is good and who is bad. Despite the main characters seemingly being on the same side, there is little loyalty and trust between them.

The directing was strong and the plot was decent. There is a violent beauty and polished violence to this movie that keeps you hooked with relentless, sleekly-choreographed fight scenes and the charm of deadly, but graceful Charlize. Of course, let’s not ignore the contributions of James McAvoy in the embodiment of his character. I do, however, have questions about the portrayal of Delphine Lasalle (played by Sofia Boutella). I can’t fault her acting and believe there are flaws in the script but I was not convinced about her characteristics (is she suited to be a spy?) and what was her precise role in advancing the plot?

One thing that is clear is that this movie is not about the plot or the story, it is about Charlize Theron. This is her movie. She is the ultimate Ice Queen, often portrayed having ice baths, drinking her drinks on the rocks and has a stare that pierces your soul. You would expect nothing less from Oscar-winning actress, there was a purely genuine ‘killer’ look about her – she was convincing, lethal and superb. Oh, and the sophisticated and improvisatory combat skills could be the sole reason to watch the movie. Lorraine is a different kind of female superstar. She is cold, calculated and independent. She is neither above nor below any men (despite what her M16 superiors think), she is equal. Above all, everything she does or says is both sexy and intimidating.

Personally, I do not want to get bogged down too much about the inconsistencies or mistakes of this movie. I doubt it is necessary. The movie explicitly chooses style over content with the pulpy feel, stylish outfits, extravagance and lavishness. That is not to say the plot dragged this movie down. For a stylish, popcorn action movie that is visually pleasing, the movie achieved its purpose. It certainly does not demand itself to be taken seriously and is rather aware of it flaws and strengths. In other words, the movie acknowledges its pulpiness and produces an entertaining show.

I expected higher praises for this movie, but the IMDB rating of 7.1 is a fair evaluation. I would definitely go see a sequel and I recommend this film to everyone – it definitely is worth your time.

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