One thing you can never say about Charlize Theron is that she phone’s it in. Wether it’s a sappy romance opposite Keanu Reeves (And the devil one), that amazing “Funny or Die” stalker bit, or Furiosa in “Mad Max” Theron always gives it everything she’s got. Her performance always adds to elevating whatever movie or genre she is in, but there are those times, where even she cannot completely save a film.
“Atomic Blonde” begins with the end of the division of Berlin as President Reagan demands that Gorbachev tears down this wall. Thus bringing about the beginning of the end of the Cold War. So Lorraine (Theron) a MI6 agent and spies like her are likely to be out of work. At the same time a list of double agents is stolen and it is up to her and her contact Agent David Percival (James McAvoy) to recover the stolen list before the Russians do.
The main issue with “Blonde” is the script, it feels like they never really got past the first draft, where they would have noticed how convoluted it was, and that the plot is straight out of the first “Mission: Impossible” film. There is not a lot of clarity, and not in the you don’t know who to trust because they are all spies, but in more of who is who and what do they want. The backdrop of the falling of The Berlin Wall only has weight when it directly coincides with the characters dilemmas. Yet you care less about both and it eventually seems not to matter to them by the end of the film either .
I will however say, that there is quite a bit to enjoy in “Atomic Blonde”. As mentioned above Theron is awesome as usual, and while you can count the action scenes on one hand, what is there is kinetic 80’s pop action. There is very little noticeable CGI, and while you do notice the fancy camera work and even some of the cuts, it still lands pretty well as Theron and thugs duke it out. The needle drops are much of what you would hear when you ask your Alexa to play 80’s Pop. Some work really well and others are completely wasted.
Having McAvoy and Sofia Boutella as fellow spies should make for a fun time, but when they bounce between cheesy spy thriller and the desire to be a Jason Bourne film it clearly is missing a step or two. Theron gives it her all as she tries to be the glue to hold this shaky film together. Director David Leitch as former stuntman/coordinator and co-director of the incredible “John Wick” still has a bit to learn, I really didn’t want a female version of Keanu Reeves kicking-ass and taking names, I wanted a bit more delving into the time the film was set in. 80’s music and clothes does not an 80’s action moive make. Not if you’re making it for today’s audience anyway.