One of the summers best action films, Atomic Blonde brings the badass and style we expected from the director who gave us John Wick (2014). David Leitch’s newest film follows MI6 agent, Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron), in an explosive, action-packed triumph, layered with a complex spy narrative that leaves the audience guessing.
Adapted from the graphic novel The Coldest City by Anthony Johnston, the film takes place on the eve of the fall of the Berlin Wall, with Broughton dispatched to Berlin to take down a Soviet espionage ring following the murder of a colleague. The female-Bond works alongside David Percival (James McAvoy) to neutralize a threat that could jeopardize the lives of many undercover agents. One of their assignments is to discover the identity of a double agent known as Satchel, but figuring out which character is portraying the double agent is a never ending guessing game. When you think you have everything down, the story takes a turn, leaving the audience on the edge of their seats. Atomic Blonde isn’t a film where the bad guy is obvious–and it’s refreshing.
Atomic Blonde may not have the budget that other action films like Spider-Man Homecoming or Wonder Woman have, but it still packs a punch….actually, many punches–an eight-minute, single take, tracking shot worth of punches. This action sequence, which takes place (mostly) in a stairwell, has never been done before and deserves the title of “Best Action Scene of the Year”. Director David Leitch has proven that he knows a thing or two about staging fight scenes, and the result is Lorraine Broughton’s many action sequences throughout the thriller that are all stylishly choreographed. The Leitch touch is also reflected in the prominent use of the neon aesthetic seen in his previous work on John Wick. However, this is where the comparisons end—and should. Atomic Blonde can stand on its own, as the title character herself proves.
Charlize Theron creates a spy character that isn’t the one dimensional type seen in so many films. Her depth and emotion are explored throughout the film, but especially in moments with her love interest Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella). The protagonist’s sidekick, David Percival (James McAvoy), brings the hilarity and also the mystery to the dynamic as the story’s many twists and turns involve his decisions throughout the narrative. The remaining cast of characters, who all have their own important voice and role in this complex spy thriller, are brought to life by actors including the previously named Sofia Boutella, the great John Goodman, Toby Jones, and James Faulkner.
Atomic Blonde is a groundbreaking tour de force for the spy genre. The way the story is written and told makes you want to see it again as soon as the credits roll. With it’s fascinating set of characters and gripping plot, basking in its glory again would surely give the viewer a whole new cinematic experience, which is something all films should do.
(Images: Entertainment Weekly and Focus Features)