Charlize Theron stars as Lorraine, an MI6 agent who is assigned to recover a list with the names of other operatives in Cold War Berlin. Theron is proving to become one of Hollywood's biggest action stars, especially after her critically acclaimed performance in 2016's Mad Max Fury Road. How does Atomic Blonde rate as establishing a new action hero?
The one thing Atomic Blonde has going for it is Charlize Theron kicking ass. And she does it well. There is some really visceral and physical fight choreography at work here. It's not stylized a la the John Wick films. There's a lot of punching and kicking going on. This adds to the realism of taking place in the late 1980s as a spy thriller, as opposed to an action extravaganza.
Atomic Blonde also boasts a solid supporting cast. We have another film with a great chameleonic performance by James McAvoy. In addition we have roles filled by John Goodman, Sofia Boutella and Toby Jones. Every actor does a good job in their roles and help add to the historical context of the film.
The film features a soundtrack that is pure 80s as classic songs are used as well as covers of other songs. Combine this with the score by Tyler Bates and we have another element that attempts to immerse viewers in Cold War Berlin in 1989.
Action and atmosphere? Check. Interesting main characters in Theron and McAvoy? Check. So where does Atomic Blonde fall short?
Sadly it falls short in the story category. Despite the historic context that is presented, I just did not care about the main story at all. All I wanted was another action scene with Charlize. The film clocks in just under 2 hours but it isn't very well paced. Once you add the political intrigue which isn't at all, it feels much longer. It's a shame because it was a missed opportunity to bring real world history to the general action movie crowd. The story splintered the film into a spy thriller that wasn't very thriller and some great action.
Atomic Blonde is solid for the most part. I was hoping for more, but the lackluster story only has you wishing for the next action sequence. Great performances by the leads in Theron and McAvoy as well as an 80s atmosphere that immersed me. I just wish the connective tissue would have been more interesting.
Final Rating (3/4)