#REVIEW: “ATOMIC BLONDE”
Review by Siobhán Rich for Mr. Will Wong
In a year that has already boasted several great Action Movies, Atomic Blonde leads with its best stiletto forward. Charlize Theron has proven her mettle as a dramatic actress and seems to have spent 2017 trying to show the world she can kick butt with the boys. Unafraid to take a hit or throw a punch, Theron is the perfect heroine for this mid-summer blockbuster.
When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 both East and West Germany were in a state of chaos. Into this world of Cold War intrigue, comes British spy Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) whose mission is to retrieve a list of active spies before it lands in the wrong hands. To make matters more complicated the list contains the identity of a double agent suspected of murder and treason. Lorraine’s contact in Berlin is David Percival (James McAvoy), whose cover of obnoxious black market trader ensures he always has access to up-to-date intel. Percival’s apparent lackadaisical attitude toward his job frustrates Lorraine who quickly loses faith and trust in her colleague. Adding to her frustration she is being followed by a mysterious woman and her American contact (played by the wonderful John Goodman) is unimpressed with her slow delivery.
Lovers of 80s music will find themselves in nirvana listening to Blonde’s brilliantly-curated Soundtrack. If Theron’s slightly anachronistic outfits and very sensible fighting shoes distract from the Movie’s 1989 setting choice cuts like Nena’s 99 Luftballons and Queen & David Bowie’s Under Pressure will help keep the audience firmly in the era.
My biggest disappointment in this Movie isn’t the graphic nudity or the gratuitous lesbian sex scene, it is the shoddy treatment of The Mummy’s’ Sofia Boutella. Delphine is the lead French spy in East Germany during the Cold War yet her nonexistent fighting skills and lack of covert abilities make the job title questionable best. Boutella sadly is there to titillate but little else and frankly, she deserves better.
Between the cocktails (Stoli on ice), flirting, and ice baths, the Movie has plenty of action sequences. A former stuntman, director David Leitch knows a thing or two about choreographing a great fight scene. Blonde’s best sequences take place in a car and later in a stairwell. The former was tightly-shot and helped set a tone for both the Movie and Theron’s character. The latter, toward the end of the Movie goes on slightly too long but again highlights Theron’s abilities as an action star.
Unlike Leitch’s previous Movie, John Wick, the world building in Blonde falls well short of the mark. Even with Antony Johnston’s Graphic Novel as a foundation, Kurt Johnstad’s script is predictable and rife with plot holes. Scenes clearly mean to be an homage to the source material seem oddly out of place and, like Lorraine’s seeming authentic affection for Delphine, come out of nowhere.
Despite a bountiful 2017, great female-driven Action Movies are few and far between. A Spy Thriller with plenty of quick-cut action sequences, Atomic Blonde is pure mindless summer fun. With a strong Supporting Cast backing her up, Charlize Theron is the classic spy archetype and a safe bet this weekend at the Box Office.
Universal Pictures Canada opens ATOMIC BLONDE on Friday, July 28, 2017.