David Leitch's Atomic Blonde isn't as action-packed as one may think, despite the well-chroegraphed hand-to-hand combat. The script is predictable and the film never reaches John Wick-level achievements, but it's still a fun time, with a wild cast.
John Wick director David Leitch is back with yet another ass-kicking action film, this time featuring Charlize Theron as the titular Atomic Blonde. The film, which was adapted by a graphic novel, features creative hand-to-hand choreography and a rocking soundtrack that all but makes up for the film’s predictable script and lopsided third act.
Lorraine (Charlize Theron) is an undercover MI6 agent sent to Berlin to investigate a murdered agent during the Cold War era. The film finds her working alongside a shifty agent named Percival (James MvAvoy), who is his own wild card of sorts.
She mustn’t trust a soul, which leaves her investigation primarily a one-women show that includes a fair share of ass-kicking.
Director David Leitch is no stranger to action films, having co-directed John Wick and solely directing John Wick: Chapter 2. Leitch has kind of established himself as the go-to director for impressive action sequences, specifically dealing with hand-to-hand combat or guns. Or both.
Atomic Blonde is definitely more of a restrained film for Leitch, capturing far less action than Wick, but still impressing the audiences with his fluid camera movement and sheer brutality on-screen.
Theron is a tough cookie and she gets put through the paces in Atomic Blonde in a way that’s believable and brutal. There are a lot of sequences that feel like one-takes and the result is truly impressive as Lorraine receives just as much as she’s dishing out.
The problem with the film is that there’s not nearly enough action to balance the film’s awfully predictable script. I’m serious — the twists can be seen from a mile away within the film’s opening twenty minutes.
And yet the film keeps chugging along, far past its expiration date as unneeded conversations pretty much spoon-feed you the entire plot, while neatly wrapping up the ending with a bow on top.
I’m not sure why Kurt Johnstad‘s script needed to go that extra mile to tie off literally all loose ends of the film, in the most boring fashion. Especially after following a mostly okay action film that gets points for style over substance.
As I said above, Charlize Theron kicks all sorts of ass. Her Lorraine is as tough as nails, yet as coy as an eagle. She almost always gets the upper hand, which makes Atomic Blonde the complete opposite of something like John Wick.
John Goodman and Toby Jones give the film added class in what are mostly just throwaway roles. They collected quick paychecks and barely flinch while doing so.
James McAvoy is approachable and dangerous as Percival, the agent gone a little too deep. His unpredictability is refreshing, yet confusing as he moves through the film mostly as a plot point with a performance that’s almost wasted, given the end context.
Atomic Blonde isn’t just a female version of John Wick. It’s aiming for something else entirely, capturing its own unique style, look and feel. The music really carries this one along, while the gunplay takes a backseat to more traditional one-shot action sequences that seem to never end.
Unfortunately, Atomic Blonde is a film where most of the best action is spoiled in the trailers. Very little is saved for the actual film, but the actual film is still worth a watch. It’s not going to blow your mind or anything, but it might be a fun little slice of Cold War sabotage to get you through the dead heat of summer.