Atomic Blonde (2017)

Posted in Reviews by - August 16, 2017
Atomic Blonde (2017)

Charlize Theron shimmers and sizzles in this violent, neon homage to the 1980s and John le Carré novels. She delivers a bewitching performance which is at once sensual and visceral, and dripping in an icy coolness. Her commitment to the role extends to much of the stunt work, which has her thrown and bashed around in long scenes of fluid fight choreography. Its the least you would expect from David Leitch – co-founder of 87eleven Action Design, making his directorial debut away from Chad Stahelski and their work together on John Wick. The stand-out sequence is an extraordinary long-take on a stairwell which is punishing, exhilarating and exhausting. This seemingly unedited sequence is up there with some of the best one-take fight scenes in martial arts movie history (joining the likes of Old Boy, Warrior King and The Raid 2). Theron is no stranger to ass-kicking action heroes – just watch her Imperator Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road; but unlike that formidable character, this film never quite allocates enough time to add depth to her role as the lethal MI6 agent, Lorraine Broughton. Its not her fault, as she clearly does her best with very little substance, and her mere presence helps to bind a film which sometimes struggles under the weight of its constituent parts. Its a pan-European spy thriller set during the end of the Cold War, in which a renegade British agent is discovered to be selling secrets to the KGB, and Lorraine is recruited to investigate. As a spy film, it never delivers the logical twists and intrigue you would expect of the genre. As a romp, it fails to provide the sort of lightness you might expect in, say, a James Bond film, or even Leitch’s previous work on John Wick. As a stylish action film, though – with a thumping retro soundtrack – it works so much better.

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Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a keyboard in London, UK.

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