It feels like it takes forever to light the fuse on “Atomic Blonde,” but once it finally goes off it’s pretty explosive.
Based on the graphic novel “The Coldest City” by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart, “Atomic Blonde” is a spy movie set in late ’80s Germany just days before the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. The soundtrack features about every Berlin-flavored ’80s song you can imagine.
Charlize Theron stars as Lorraine Broughton, a tough-as-nails British secret agent sent to recover a secret list of secret agents before it winds up in the wrong hands and all the secrets are revealed. Her contact in Berlin is agent David Percival (James McAvoy), whose time in the city has made him a bit unhinged.
It’s a simple plot, until the end when it gets tangled up in double agents and triple agents. But then simple stories fueled by ultra violence, a damaged lead and a stylish look have become the trademarks of director David Leitch, whose previous credit is the wonderful “John Wick.”
“Atomic Blonde” wants to be the female equivalent of “John Wick,” and it comes close but close only counts in horseshoes and atomic bombs. It tries very hard to be stylish and edgy — a little too hard for my taste. It feels forced. And while “Wick” had some clever new takes on the assassin trade, “Blonde” doesn’t bring anything fresh to the table as far as spy tales go.
The film also moves pretty slowly in the first half for a film that’s being sold as action-packed. But once it finally takes off, it’s a tour de force of force. Give Theron credit for being a trouper. She (and her stunt double) are willing to take a beating, and she doesn’t shy away from having her lovely face and body covered in bruises and scars.
So, mixed review for me. I was impressed with the brutal fight sequences and action, thought the actors were fine, enjoyed the music, thought the pacing was off in the first half, don’t feel it’s as clever as it thinks it is.