I was invited to a free preview screening of "Atomic Blonde" earlier this week at Regal Hollywood Stadium 20 & RPX in Greenville, and I knew little about this female-led spy thriller starring Charlize Theron beforehand.
"Atomic Blonde" is apparently based on a graphic novel, but I have no knowledge of the source material so I can only judge the movie on its own merits. It's set in 1989 in Berlin as the Berlin Wall is coming down amidst political and social turmoil, and if you forget that fact, the awesome 80s' soundtrack and colorful neon scenery is always there to remind you. The story frequently shifts between Berlin, where all the spy action happens, and an interrogation room in which Theron's character is being drilled by American and British intelligence figures played by John Goodman and Toby Jones.
Theron plays British MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton, who is always dressed to kill, literally, in smart black and white outfits that go well with her blonde bob and fierce expressions. She's sent to Berlin after the death of another agent who was in possession of a list that threatens to expose all spies across the globe if it falls into the wrong hands. Teamed with David Percival (James McAvoy), a British spy who is deep undercover in German matters, she basically spends the entire movie moving from one fight to the next, with a few breaks in between.
I'll be honest. The story was mostly nonsensical and could be plain confusing at times, and it only served as a vehicle for Theron to show off her action chops. Even so, this movie is still ridiculously fun to watch. Everything from the new wave soundtrack (I'm a child of the 80s, so I loved it) to the fight scenes played like one long MTV video from back in the day when MTV actually played videos. The fight scenes themselves were excellently choreographed and often done in one long continuous shot. One of the movie's best and most humorous scenes shows Lorraine and a component both staggering around exhausted and beaten but still fighting it out using any object within reach. She also gets creative with her use of weapons — high heels, refrigerator doors, boomboxes, corkscrews and more add humor to the violence.
"Atomic Blonde" will appeal to many because it makes for a retro-cool action flick that combines the standard action movie violence with doses of humor, and you'll either love or hate its feminist protagonist.
It's obvious this movie doesn't take itself seriously, and if you don't either, you'll probably love it.
One word of caution: Leave the kids at home. This one is full of violence, profanity and has a same-sex sex scene that's best left to age appropriate audiences.
"Atomic Blonde" is rated R for sequences of strong violence, language throughout, and some sexuality/nudity. It is now playing in theaters nationwide.