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Atomic Blonde  : Doesn’t Quite Explode
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Friday, August 11, 2017
Thriller
David Leitch
Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Eddie Marsan

The dumb blonde cliché gets blown as MI6 agent Lorraine uses red high heels and mixed martial arts to become a kickass Jane Bond or Blonde.

 

The screenplay by Kurt Johnstad which is sourced from the graphic novel series The Coldest City, kicks in with an investigation into Agent Lorraine’s assignment in Berlin just before the fall of the wall. She was assigned to go into Germany to deal with a traitor in their midst and to return with what the whole world and its spy rings have been after – The List.

 

Lorraine comes up with a flashback narration that dizzies between East and West Berlin with the British, the Russians, the French and the Germans of course playing spy vs spy. After a point one isn’t sure who’s on which side. But director David Leitch creates a credible female agent who’s blase when she breaks bones. Like Bond, she drinks, smokes and yes, she even beds women if she has to. In fact, it’s becoming rather mandatory for Hollywood to script in lesbian sex. It’s here between Theron and Sofia Boutella playing yet another mystery agent.

 

By the time the investigation into Lorraine’s assignment rolls towards the end, she has kicked in the groin and brought down half-a-dozen professionals at a time. She has also, clever girl, found the traitor in Berlin, outsmarted him and wiped him out. But where’s the List?

 

Even if the investigation has ended, the film hasn’t. There has to be another cool session of crunching bones before the List comes home.

 

With a sombre grey hanging there as a consistent backdrop, at one point, the art designer has a lampshade with the same pattern as Lorraine’s knitted off-shoulder top. All the colour therefore comes solely from Lorraine’s non-stop action and a script that twists and keeps moving.  There is the expected stock of one-liners. But the sameness of spy stories never changes and that’s where the Blonde stops short of exploding into a wow-evoking experience. 

 

While staple ‘reliables’ like John Goodman are around, it’s James McAvoy who’s strangely out of depth. He who was so impressive in films like Split, comes off smirking and cocky as David Percival, Lorraine’s contact person in Berlin. But ultimately everybody around is incidental as this is Charlize Theron’s moment like Angelina Jolie had her Lara moments.

 

For an unpretentious, lightning-speed action film, Atomic Blonde gets a 3* rating.

 

Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan

Senior Journalist & Author

 

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