Starring: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Eddie Marsan, and John Goodman
Run time: 1hr. 55mins
Hitting someone in the mouth while teeth fly across the room followed by a stream of crimson red blood. Bashing a man’s head in with a random object as he cringes in pain as the blood paints a picture of abstract art on the wall behind him. Or maybe shooting several assailants at point blank range as they fall like dominoes, one after the other. These would be my definitions of gritty action fight scenes in cinema. And what could be better if a female action superstar was causing all the mayhem? So, when I watched the trailer of the bleach platinum blonde Charlize Theron beat someone endlessly with a high heeled red shoe in the backseat of a speeding car, I was anxious to see if she would live up to the gauntlet of hardcore female superstars before her. “Bad Ass” she is in Atomic Blonde, but the movie tries to be “too smart” for its own good.
Atomic Blonde, based on Anthony Johnston and Sam’s Hart graphic novel, The Coldest City, stars Charlize Theron as an undercover M16 agent sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents. But she must decide who she can trust and soon discovers that there are no sides, just winners or losers in this deadly game she is playing.
The film’s setting is 1989 during the fall of the Berlin wall at the end of the cold war. If you are a fan of late 80’s music, then the soundtrack along with the bone cracking fight scenes will hold your interest. From Blue Monday and Personal Jesus, to Under Pressure by David Bowie and Queen, the music and the action are carefully choreographed into an orchestrated masterpiece. It is unfortunate the story line is not.
The film takes a very interesting premise and makes it “too smart” for its own good. Instead of telling the story and letting the circumstances intrigue the moviegoer, it as an assortment of flashbacks that are not in any order and real time random sequences that is meant to mislead the viewer. It is a poor attempt to make it difficult to separate the “good guys” from the “bad”. It is the movie equivalent of the shell game.
But on a positive note, Charlize Theron cinematic presence cannot be denied. She is very convincing as a seductive but deadly agent trying to figure who to trust. Her first on screen appearance defines her character as you witness her banged up, black and blue bruise body, emerging from a bathtub full of ice. Then slowly turning towards the camera, with a badly blacken eye enjoying a cigarette after a seemingly hard day of work. Theron looks like a model straight off the cover of vogue, but fights like cornered salivating Pitbull. She has ice in her veins, but has a lukewarm place in her heart for the less fortunate or for the ones she truly cares about. But if you cross her, the outcome is the same – badly beaten or death. Theron’s performance combined with the intense action scenes overcomes the complicated story line.
“Bondish-like”, no. Atomic Blonde although filled with action, lacks the style and elegance of a Bond film, but still worth a watch. The questions still remains, “Could the next Bond cast a female in the lead role? ” Why yes it can. Although, Theron bashfully avoids this question on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show, this would be “no-brainer”. The Academy winning actress would turn the “franchise on its ear.”
Your Average Movie Moe