Atomic Blonde: Action without substance

Fight club: Atomic Blonde gets the action bit bang on when it comes to an entertaining spy thriller  

The 80s are synonymous with hair-spray teased coifs, eyesore shoulder pads and synth pop music. The last bit does make its way into Atomic Blonde as the backdrop for one of the coolest spies we’ve seen on screen. It’s 1989, and the film, told through flashback, starts off with a bruised and battered Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) soaking in a bathtub filled with ice. We come to know she’s an MI6 agent who was recently sent to Berlin on a mission before the wall came down. She’s been assigned to retrieve a list that has the names of all active spies in the Soviet Union; reveal a double agent named Satchel; and avenge her colleague (and possible lover) James Gasciogne’s (Sam Hargrave) death. Her point of contact is David Percival (James McAvoy). And as soon as Broughton’s towering heels click on Berlin soil, she’s ambushed by the KGB which soon leads her down a rabbit hole of deceit and disaster.

Atomic Blonde gets the action bit bang on when it comes to an entertaining spy thriller. Director David Leitch (also a stuntman) who made Keanu Reeves relevant again with John Wick (2014) works his charm to create sequences that have a slowed-down gritty authenticity to them. Each time Theron raises her arm or lifts her leg for a kick, you’re internally grunting with her to fight the bad guy. Then there’s the killer soundtrack, which isn’t Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, but definitely does elicit a rush with songs (and covers) like ‘Sweet Dreams are Made of This’ and ‘Blue Monday’.

The rest of the film, though, is a head scratcher. Its complicated story, though entirely predictable, is executed to confusing results. There’s an unnecessary lesbian subplot thrown in to titillate male audiences with a wasted Sofia Boutella as the distressed French agent Delphine Lasalle. But alas, the Indian censors haven’t let anything more than some chaste kisses through to the final cut. After many cat and mouse chases, and double crossers getting deceived, you’re just left disoriented.

To her credit, throughout the entire labyrinthine affair, Theron is suave, slick and smooth, punching her way into our hearts. Her co-star McAvoy, the MI6 chief station and bad boy of Berlin, does his best to play the devil-may-care narcissist but is passable. Pretty much everything including pallid performances (excepting Theron) takes a backseat with a loosely scripted film. Don’t be surprised if you don’t quite get the purpose of how things unfold in Atomic Blonde ’s climax. In any case, switch off your brain, come for Theron and stay for the action.

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 9:59:58 PM |

Next Story