“Atomic Blonde” is directed by David Leitch and stars Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Sofia Boutella, and John Goodman. The film is based on a graphic novel series by Antony Johnson and is about an MI6 agent who must go into Berlin towards the end of the Cold War in order to find a certain list of names that could extend the Cold War for decades if found in the wrong hands.
This is a film I was very excited to see, as the trailers seemed to show a female John Wick styled character, and with that, I was hoping for many of the same things that make the “John Wick” series so great. So, coming in, I hoped for a lot of energetic action with some great choreography and a story compelling enough to join it all together.
The action is definitely this movie’s selling point, as when the action sequences are in full force, the film is at its peak. The action is terrific in this movie, as the camera maintains a very still shot while there is quite a lot going on, and it makes for some very cool moments of Charlize Theron ass-kicking. One sequence in particular towards the final act involving a staircase is simply brilliant, and is easily a highlight action moment not only in this movie, but for 2017 as a whole, as it made my jaw drop to the floor in its seamless camerawork, choreography, and visceral tone.
The performances in this movie are all good, and while I wish some of the lead roles blew me away more than they did, everyone in the main cast was very solid. Charlize Theron is very good in the lead here, especially when it comes to the intense action scenes, but she also brings some interesting layers to the titular character throughout the film. James McAvoy is also great in the film, as he brings a lot of energy to his character that could have otherwise been lacking with a lesser actor in the role. I found John Goodman and Sofia Boutella to be good here as well, as Boutella specifically had a very unique character, one that brought out some interesting story elements in the plot.
The visuals and the score used in this film are both very good, as the retro soundtrack used really allows the action scenes to pop with some flare. The cinematography by Jonathan Sela is great, and it really nails down the late 80s Cold War vibe that the movie is going for, and it does so with a style unique enough to keep the visuals interesting.
Sadly, “Atomic Blonde” is not the female “John Wick,” in fact, I found it to be a significantly less fun version of the Keanu Reeves-led films. While director David Leitch is not going for the same feel as “John Wick,” he seems to go at this movie way too seriously, and the film suffers all the more for it. There are significant gaps in time where there are no action scenes whatsoever, and the storyline that is going on between these events is overly complex and too uninteresting to keep my intrigue.
More about the story line, as it is just way too complicated and goes through far too many twists and turns that feel like they have no real purpose for existing. I like the performances by McAvoy and Theron, but their characters become completely muddled by the overbearing story around them, and it becomes hard to even enjoy these two as I found myself consistently weighed down by the over complication of the plot.
The movie runs a bit too long at 115 minutes, as, once again, the movie cares too much about its convoluted storyline to ever really have as much fun as it should. There should be a good twenty or thirty minutes of exposition and plot completely cut out and changed, as the movie often feels as if it is running in circles with what is going on. Remove the crap, add some more action as you promised in the trailer, and there could be a really entertaining film in here, but as it stands, I was truly bored with “Atomic Blonde” far more than I should have been.
“Atomic Blonde” has solid performances and some terrific action sequences, but the few cool moments of action do not make up for a plot that I never cared about as much as the movie wanted me to, and a series of twists and turns towards the end that felt either obvious or totally unnecessary. There is a lot of potential wasted here, and I just have to imagine what could have been if David Leitch decided to make a fun movie instead of a grim, overstuffed action film with very little action to latch onto.
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