Release Date: July 28, 2017
Director: David Leitch
Writer: Kurt Johnsad, Antony Johnston, Sam Hart
Cast: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Eddie Marsan, John Goodman, Toby Jones, James Faulkner, Roland Moller, Sofia Boutella, Bill Skarsgard, Sam Hargrave, Johannes Haukur Johannesson, Til Schweiger, Barbara Sukowa, Attila Arpa, Martin Angerbauer, Lili Gesler, Sara Natasa Szonda, Decian Hannigan, Balazs Lengyel, Daniel Hargrave, Greg Rementer, Daniel Bernhardt, Cale Schultz
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 115 minutes
Production Company: 87Eleven, Closed on Mondays Entertainment, Denver and Delilah Productions, Film I Vast (in association with: Scandinavia), Focus Features
Genre: Action, Mystery, Thriller
Language: English, German, Russian, Swedish
Budget: $30,000,000 (estimated)
Going into this film, I heard whispers that it’s the female version of John Wick. There is some truth to that claim, but you’ll just have to wait and see. As an action junky in Hollywood mostly behind the camera doing stunt work, director David Leitch (John Wick) is at it again, showing all his action beats he can choreograph. Taking place during the cold war, he put together a film that tries to highlight the 80’s with bright spray-painted colors, and action that will be remembered for quite some time. Now while the action may leave its mark, the characters, and story doesn’t even come close in the slightest form. Atomic Blonde should be title Atomic Dull, for that’s what it feels like. It is the definition of a convoluted bore fest that will put you to sleep if you’re not careful. There was not one character I cared for, or even wanted to for that matter, but were the development failed, the punches and kicks made up for it.
Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is an undercover MI-6 agent off to Berlin to investigate the murder of another close agent. Theron is a fantastic actress, but I don’t know what compelled her to accept such a role. She isn’t a character, but more like a robot that can fight with wig. Whether this was done on purpose or accident, but her character as Lorraine was pathetic. This must be one of the driest monotone performances I’ve seen all year. There was absolutely no emotion to her role as if she didn’t want to be there. It didn’t even feel like she enjoyed the sex scenes she was a part of. James McAvoy as David was a small improvement. At least, he had some charisma on screen. I didn’t have any clue to what she cared about or what drove her.
What doubles down on that is, there isn’t much color in the film as well, besides what’s used for subtitles. Nearly the entire film feels like it’s been done in Black and White with splashes of colors at random. The only color comes from Lorraine’s blonde wig, and the colors from the spray-painted graphics that pop in and out. Coming in with a runtime of being short of 2 hours, your best bet maybe to come in 45 minutes late. On top of the film looking tired, it is really up until the 2nd half. Nothing is happening except bone dusted dialogue from characters you’re not attached to. The plot is a confusing mess to follow, and all you’re waiting for is the action.
That’s where things get good when the action finally comes and stays put. Leaving out the story and character development, Atomic Blonde is on the level of John Wick in regards to the action. It’s a top notch too. And not only is the action groundbreaking, it stands out more from the way it’s shot. Scene after scene, the camera shot never breaks, and gives the illusion it’s all done in one take. What even makes the action more intense on top of that is the characters in such scenes get tired after a while with all the punches and kicks. It’s not just punches and kicks either that are used in the film. Everyone uses their environment to come out top, which makes the whole experience that much more realistic and worthwhile. Lorraine didn’t even win every fight she engaged in either. When she was on top, she was on top, but when she wasn’t, knew how to make the best of the situation to live and fight another day.
In the end, David Leitch only put together half of a film. He was able to provide heart pounding action to where you felt every blow, but failed miserably in the plot and story development of the film to where you don’t even care for the outcome. Unfortunately, that’s how it all ends too, with no side being loyal to the cause. It seemed like everyone was selfish and only interested in their own gain, and if that’s the case; I can stay home and watch great action clips on YouTube instead of wasting time in theaters with characters that don’t mean anything.