Academy Award winner; Charlize Theron has without a doubt had a mesmerizing career. She is a prime example of someone who has worked her way from the bottom to get to the top. The fact that she had no lines in 1995’s ‘Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest’ is evidence of her modest beginning. The fact that she garnered her Academy Award for best actress in 2003 at the age of twenty seven only one quarter in her career demonstrated that she had a lot to live up to following the Oscar win. Theron has definitely been fortunate to choose a wide range of characters over her career. Her performance in her latest film; ‘Atomic Blonde’ will be a very impressive addition to her acting profile. You may ask why is her character Lorraine Broughton going to stand the test of time? It is simply because the world never tires of a woman that is tough, brutal and determined.
‘Atomic Blonde’ is a spy film that would make James Bond cream in his pants if the protagonist Lorraine Broughton ever had to put him to the test. Putting that aside, the spy, action genre has changed as James Bond known as the conventional spy franchise is far tamer compared to the more modern spy’s such as ‘Kingman,’ ‘John Wick’ and now ‘Atomic Blonde.’ These are now considered new additions were a new kind of spy franchise has been born, but the viewer will immediately notice what all three have in common. Stylised extreme violence is the main requirement. The action scenes in ‘Atomic Blonde’ are very superior and meet up to the standards as the aforementioned films, that without it, it wouldn’t be deemed worthy as a modern spy genre.
Filmed on a budget of $30 million, an undercover MI6 agent is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents. Sound familiar? Is it original? Let’s just stipulate that everything in ‘Atomic Blonde’ is unoriginal which is why it can’t achieve 5-star status. But that’s OK. The audience expects the conventions and clichés that this is what they’ll get. For an agent to recover a list of agents may be akin to Ethan Hunt’s objective in ‘Mission Impossible.’ For an agent like Theron to protect the man who has the list memorised always results in obstacles where other hit men will fight Theron. The man with the valuable knowledge played by the amazing Eddie Marsan is perfectly cast.
The ‘trust no one’ routine, the double crossing and the style of distinct direction are all intact. Stunt co-ordinator David Leitch has been given a serious privilege and deserves to direct a film of this stature. It is simply due to the fact that he knows how to direct the extreme action sequences to perfection, as he is the most qualified person, considering his impressive stunt credits. Leitch has taken ideas from many spy films and other directors to make the film his own. He has used a big influence from Nicolas Winding Refn, with his pink neon lights in the background, impressive fight sequences from Theron and enemies where we can only see their silhouettes like in ‘Skyfall.’ But most essentially the impressive one hand held camera and no editing of long, gruelling and painful fighting are bloody and brilliant.
Overall the slow motion punching and kicking, the slow motion bullets passing through people and the setting of Berlin in 1989 in the peak of the wall being torn down adds to the charm of this film. James McAvoy is a great partner in crime to Theron as he now enjoys playing over the top larger than life characters and uses them to stand out. The soundtrack of loud synthesizers and 80’s pop music is an added bonus, but the true standout of the film is Theron due to her badass action speaking louder than her words. Expect a great twist in the end with her character, but once again unoriginal as the same style of twist applies with Kevin Costner in 1987’s ‘No Way Out.’ Hint! Hint! Spoiler! Spoiler! A great film worth watching nonetheless.
Action, Thriller | USA, 2017 | 15 | 9th August 2017 (UK) | Universal Pictures | Dir.David Leitch | Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Sofia Boutella, Til Schweiger, Toby Jones