Atomic Blonde is a spy thriller/action film directed by David Leitch (John Wick, the upcoming Deadpool 2) that takes place in 1989, about MI-6 superspy Lorraine (Charlize Theron) who must travel to Berlin to recover a list of spies. Along the way, she meets a cast of spies who all have their own agenda as the Berlin Wall comes down.
Unfortunately, this one’s a real flatline. It’s a shame because I love movies like Ronin and The Way of the Gun where various groups are after a MacGuffin, the alliances are shaky and death could be around the corner for anyone.
The problems start with one of the first scenes, with Lorraine getting debriefed post the events of most of the movie. Jeez, I wonder if she’ll be okay? This takes a lot of tension out of the movie from the get-go and even manages to deflate what is really the only good scene in the movie. The last thing you want to do in a thriller is remove the tension and Atomic Blonde manages to do this within the first ten minutes of its runtime.
None of the characters are very interesting, save David (James McAvoy) a seemingly insane MI-6 agent who basically does what he wants in Berlin. Lorraine is probably the least interesting protagonist in any movie I’ve seen since The Great Wall and none of the supporting characters having anything special going for them either. There’s not a single piece of dialog from this movie I can think of as remarkable or interesting. I saw where most characters were going up until the last 15 minutes, which is where the twists start to come out. Unfortunately for me, that was way too late and I couldn’t care less. None of the twists really seem to change how I felt about the characters or gave me a reason to care about what happened during the events of the movie. You can have all the badass action in the world but that’s not going to count for much if I don’t care what happens to the people in the action.
On top of that, the soundtrack is really overbearing. There’s a lot of 80’s music that plays over scenes where it’s not necessary at all and at times, conflicting with the tone. I’m not an idiot I get the movie takes place in 1989 so you don’t have to remind me with a constant barrage of 80’s pop music. Considering the last film I watched in a cinema was Dunkirk, where Hans Zimmer created a soundtrack that literally made the movie it featured in, it was frustrating to have such a lazy soundtrack in this movie.
Finally, there’s a lack of spycraft that I feel this movie really could have done with. The movie Ronin is an example where simple tricks are used to gather intelligence or gain an advantage. I’d also say this is a criticism that applies to the John Wick movies. I honestly love a protagonist that can out think and outwit, not just kill the bad guys.
With all that being said, there is some good camera work from time to time. There’s also a sequence halfway through the movie on a staircase where Lorraine has to take out some enemy spies, which is bad ass. The hits feel brutal, and if it wasn’t for the early scene I had mentioned before, I would have been concerned with her survival.
I really can’t recommend Atomic Blonde. This type of movie has been done better so many times before. Hopefully, someone will put the staircase scene and the scene where Charlize Theron and Sofia Boutella make out on Youtube so you don’t have to sit through this bomb.
Still, I hold out some hope for Deadpool 2. I can see David Leitch pulling off a great movie with the right writer. He certainly knows how to execute great action scenes, but to paraphrase The Bowery King said in John Wick 2 “Somebody please, get this man a writer.”