Review: While the trailer might suggest that Atomic Blonde is ‘the female John Wick’ (note that Wick’s directors, Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, split up after the hit—the former with John Wick Chapter 2, while the latter with this), Charlize Theron’s starred-and-produced actioner isn’t simply xx-chromosom rendition of Wick. Theron’s femme fatale, Lorraine Broughton is more of ‘Bond’ than ‘Wick’, but less Bond than she’s blonde. Not to forget that she’s atomic, too.
Set in the end of the 80s where Cold War is in the brink of its end—in graffiti-laden Berlin streets where Berlin Wall is still a thing, the titular character, as an M16 agent, is sent on a deadly mission. In brief, Lorraine’s mission is simply to investigate the murder of an agent of her rank and to obtain a list of double agents. Yet, her mission on the run also includes bone-breaking fighting scenes, blood-splattering gunfire, double-crossings and sexual voyage, which appease die-hard action aficionado’s cravin’ for hardcore actioner.
Atomic Blonde might not be a full-frontal action gone gaga the way her distant sibling, John Wick, is. It takes some time to finally delve into the mode, but it stays true to its nature as espionage bravura with one quote, posing as one principle, to hold dear for the whole duration: “do not trust anyone.” It’s a clear-cut spy game that throws audiences right onto the spy slum, where secrets and loyalty do not make friends. If you can’t keep up with the plot in determining the friends and the foes, this film has actually succeeded in delivering its intention. Of course, the editing contributes to that chaotic grounds and that’s not a compliment.
As expected from the director, the action stunt is completely bad-ass and heart-stirring. There’s a scene with Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker in the background, which has immediate resemblance to Tarantino’s Kill Bill during showdown at House of Blue Leaves. The action scene isn’t a grand one, but it signifies one thing that the blonde’s opponents are not restraining their savagery even to woman. All action scenes in Atomic Blonde pinnacled in one lengthy scene straining from a black-umbrella ridden protest street through an apartment and into a car chase all in one take.
Standing between the convoluted spy game and the breathtaking action choreography is Theron in her ultra-committed performance. Her character retains the definition of cold hard b#tch and is always well-fashioned in whatever occasions, but she isn’t an undefeated protagonist. She’s black and blue all over most of the time, but Theron makes it as if Lorraine doesn’t give a damn about any of it. From the looks to the pressuring exercise she took to actually make the blonde atomic, she is no doubt what Atomic Blonde is all about.
While the crooked spy game often restrains the film from being as atomic as the trailer suggest, Atomic Blonde does not disappoint. When the mode is on, the action is even louder than the film’s 80s hits (ranging from Depeche Mode, Queen and David Bowie to A Flock of Seagulls, yes that ‘I Ran’ band) blaring and echoing as Lorraine wanders around and kicks some arses. It’s a neon-bathing, over-stylized action bonanza with one of the most menacing femme fatale in recent history, which might make you shout for more when the credit rolls.
Atomic Blonde (2017)