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Published On: Fri, Jul 28th, 2017

‘Atomic Blonde’ introduces Charlize Theron’s ‘Jane Bond’ with amazing action, but is short on plot

A female James Bond has been a topic of discussion for years, but now fans get an entertaining hybrid with Atomic Blonde. Charlize Theron’s action thriller is a cross between the Jason Bourne films, John Wick action sequences, a comic book flavor and a dash or two of Quentin Tarantino flavor.

Based on The Coldest City, a 2012 graphic novel by Antony Johnston and illustrated by Sam Hart, Atomic Blonde is set an the end of the Cold War, opening with President Reagan’s tear down the wall speech, Theron’s Lorraine Broughton is debriefed by her MI6 superior (Toby Jones) and a CIA insider (John Goodman). Through a series of flashbacks, Lorriane’s mission is explained, sending her into hostile Berlin, meeting up with British intelligence’s David Percival (James McAvoy), to track down a Mission Impossible inspired list of spies before it gets out on the market and assassinate a mysterious mole in MI6.

The mission is quickly complicated by the reality that the list has been memorized by Spyglass, a Stasi agent played by Eddie Marsan, and the presence of a French agent (Sofia Boutella of The Mummy, Star Trek Beyond) to quickly complicate Lorraine’s life.

Charlize Theron and James McAvoy in “Atomic Blonde”

This is different of spy thriller with intrusive 80’s rock music (Flock of Seagulls, David Bowie, Queen, Depeche Mode and even the German songstress Nena’s “99 Luftballons”), tons of profanity, nudity and graphic violence. The much touted stairwell sequence, a long single shot centering on Theron’s character pummeling male attacker after male attacker with various items in a brilliant and brutal fight sequence.

While director David Leitch capitalizes on his stunt work background, the story is still pretty vanilla and that is both good and bad. Theron delivers a different kind of John Wick and Atomic Blonde moves quickly, avoiding complicated villains or nostalgic memories from Lorraine’s past. She’s strong, brutal, driven, smart and unrelenting. Much of the action in the film is tainted by the use of “slo mo” aka “speed ramping” – the overused technique abused by Zack Snyder.

Theron is plagued by her direction, delivering a stoic heroine, staving off vulnerability as the focus is to create another superspy: skilled like Scarlett Johansson (Ghost in the Shell, Lucy, Avengers), but smarter and intense like Emily Blunt’s character in Sicario. Avoiding depth for Lorraine doesn’t make her more like Bond, but keeps her distant from the audience.

Trust me, you’ll still be cheering for her, but this is not Wonder Woman…it’s more like Logan.

While the climax and ending are fantastic, they are rushed and ultimately so confusing, it creates a let down. Marsan is wasted and the best moments between McAvoy and Theron are sabotaged by the trailer footage, softening their impact. The film is just under two hours, so a couple of scenes to expand Marsan’s role and develop some more intrigue to unclutter the ending would have served the film well.

Atomic Blonde is highly entertaining, but not quite the film promoted as the first chapter of a new series…then again, neither was John Wick.

Atomic Blonde receives 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars

Personally I want to see more, watch a follow-up set in the 90’s, but it can’t be directed by Leitch and will certainly need to have an interesting villain to counter Theron. It was disappointing to have to endure so much unneeded nudity which excludes the larger PG-13 audience and will lower the box officer receipts. Showing Theron from behind would have been effective without using all of the mirror and trick shots to display her top. The lesbian sex scene was softer than promoted, but could also have been addressed to ensure a more open rating….maybe next time.

 

 

About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professional in 2008 on sites like Examiner and blogs: Desk of Brian, Crazed Fanboy. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) will be a licensed Assembly of God Pastor by the Spring of 2017. "Why do we do this?" I was asked and the answer is simple. "I just want the truth. I want a source of information that tells me what's going and clearly attempts to separate opinion from fact. Set aside left and right, old and young, just point to the world and say, 'Look!'" To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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  1. Gail says:

    I think McAvoy and Theron have so much chemistry in this movie!

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