“Atomic Blonde” stars Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Til Schweiger, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella, Toby Jones, and Bill Skarsgård. Released on July 28, 2017, the film is about a female spy who is sent to Berlin to find a list of double agents in the Soviet Union.
The film is directed by David Leitch, who is known for co-directing John Wick with Chad Stahelski. It is based on the 2012 graphic novel The Coldest City by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart. What better way to follow up on the success of a male-led action thriller than a female-led action thriller? With the success of John Wick and its sequel, David Leitch is going solo for this latest project and Charlize Theron is here to help him out. Those people are the two reasons why I was looking forward to this film. I thought David Leitch and Chad Stahelski did a really nice job bringing the world of John Wick to life, and Charlize Theron has been quite successful in her recent action films like Mad Max: Fury Road and The Fate of the Furious. For this film, Theron is taking center stage as a hard-hitting spy in hopes of continuing to lure in her audience. As expected, she delivered the goods with ease, but what about the film itself?
If you’ve seen the marketing for this action thriller, you’re probably thinking that it’s going to be another action-driven film that relies on violence rather than storytelling. Turns out that it definitely has plenty of action, but they never lose sight on the story. If you’re the type of person who prefers a storyline along with the action, then I’m happy to say that this film offers that. The story has a lot of interesting and compelling moments, and it is definitely something that you got to pay attention to, but in most cases, it has plenty of moments that weren’t as hard-hitting as the action sequences themselves, such as the relationship between Lorraine (Theron) and French agent Delphine Lasalle (Boutella). The pacing also moves along at a steady pace, mostly for the non-action scenes. While I didn’t find that a problem since I was engaged to it from beginning to end, It can be a bit concerning for those who wanted a fast-paced action blockbuster. I guess my only problem with the narrative, in general, was the running time. It does feel a bit overlong in terms of the pacing, clocking in at an hour and 55 minutes. Other than that, I thought the film was pretty darn good. Charlize Theron proved to me once again that she’s the type of person that you don’t want to mess with. Not only was her performance as Lorraine astonishing, but her action skills on-screen were both magnetic and fierce. James McAvoy also did a good job portraying David Percival, an ally to Lorraine. While his performance as Charles Xavier in the X-Men prequels is still my favorite from him, I cannot deny the fact that McAvoy has a great knack at portraying characters like Percival. The style and tone in “Atomic Blonde” is much similar to John Wick due to Leitch’s solid direction. For the style, Leitch does his part in making the action brutal and entertaining without the choppy editing, and boy, was it brutal. Not only that, but it was shot extremely well thanks to Jonathan Sela’s cinematography. My personal highlight of the film was the stairwell sequence, which is possibly one of the most impressive and engaging action sequences in recent memory, in my opinion. This sequence alone is shot in one, huge continuous take. No edits, no breaks, no nothing, and it was near-perfection. I had plenty of fun watching that scene and I hope to see more of those continuous takes in the near future.
Overall, “Atomic Blonde” is a stylish and well-paced thriller that makes itself known in the midst of the over-the-top action blockbusters. Aside from some of its narrative issues and its running time, the film offers a compelling story and a series of hard-hitting action sequences that we’ve come to expect from John Wick director David Leitch. Not bad for his first movie as a solo director. Like I said before, if you prefer the right mixture of story and action, this film might be for you. If you’re familiar with Leitch’s work in John Wick, this is something that’s worth checking out in the theater.