Atomic Blonde: Film Review
Cast: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Toby Jones, John Goodman, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella
Director: David Leitch
Blazing style clearly over substance, Atomic Blonde's Cold War story breathes a chill over proceedings.
Whether it intends to or not is another matter.
Theron stars as Lorraine, a hard vodka drinking super spy who starts the film being debriefed by her boss Eric Gray (played with the usual brilliance by Toby Jones) and a CIA stooge (a bearded John Goodman).
Tasked with tracking down a list that could hold a complete breakdown of every spy and their alibis, Lorraine meets her contact David Percival (played with relish and energy by James McAvoy) in Berlin at the fall of the wall.
However, unsurprisingly things start to go wrong and soon Lorraine is in the cross hairs...
Trading more off a killer soundtrack that includes iconic tunes of the era like New Order's Blue Monday or Father Figure from George Michael, Atomic Blonde sadly lacks the moves to fully convince in this ripped-from-a-graphic novel.
There is one singularly impressive fight sequence inside an abandoned house that seriously showcases some incredible choreography and some impressively desperate close hand combat. Stripped of any OST or reliance on cool tunes to punctuate its narrative or execution, the grunting and bone-crunching fight stand alone of anything else this year.
But despite Theron's commitment to the icy blonde she inhabits and the fact she looks like a Debbie Harry clone thrown deep into the spy world, Atomic Blonde feels hollow, an exercise more in precise cool than a precision film of the spy genre, packed with twists.
Once again, it's a film that has a commitment more to its origins than its cinematic execution, its pop stencil ethos and its desire to be cripplingly cool, ripped as it is from the Oni Press graphic novel series "The Coldest City"
It's not without merit; it's more that outside of its one truly raw and gritty fight sequence, it feels more of a hollow disposability than anything else. There's certainly little to cling on to after the lights have gone up - which is a real shame, given that Theron's a great actress and a female action lead of this calibre rarely comes along in a relatively mainstream Hollywood release.