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article imageReview: ‘Atomic Blonde’ is the perfect secret weapon Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jul 29, 2017 in Entertainment
‘Atomic Blonde’ is a Cold War spy thriller starring Charlize Theron as the badass secret agent assigned to prevent an international catastrophe by breaking down doors and knocking heads together.
For a long time, strong female characters were usually relegated to the role of femme fatale — the male protagonist’s enemy and potential downfall. In spite of being equally lethal and attractive, she was rarely given the opportunity to lead the charge; instead she was defeated and discarded before the end credits so the hero can complete his mission and sweep his less threatening leading lady off her feet. But that’s all starting to change. Women are taking the lead in action movies and kicking butt in the process. The latest in this promising trend is Atomic Blonde.
Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is one of MI6’s top secret agents. Days before the fall of the Berlin Wall, she is sent to Germany to investigate the murder of a colleague who they believe was in possession of a valuable asset: a list of the names and aliases of every Western spy operating during the Cold War, including a double agent. Upon arriving in Berlin, she meets her contact, David Percival (James McAvoy), an MI6 agent thought to have gone native. Lorraine quickly realizes she can trust no one as each step closer to the truth brings an onslaught of brutes and a hail of gunfire. Surrounded by liars, she must be better at it than them if she’s going to survive.
A former stunt coordinator and second unit director, David Leitch has had a hand in some of the most popular action movies of recent years; he served as an uncredited director for John Wick and helmed the short, Deadpool: No Good Deed, before going on to direct the sequel set for release next year. Therefore, there was a lot of interest in what he would do with this picture. The trailer suggested it would be another hard-hitting action picture with an excellent soundtrack, and it certainly delivers on that front. Lorraine is a highly trained operative who can dish out as much as she can take, disarming and battling hand-to-hand with the KGB and anyone else that gets in her way. She never appears weak or less capable than her male counterparts, though some opponents are tougher than others (almost comically at times). Her fight against a group of armed men in an abandoned building is definitely one of the film’s best and most brutal sequences.
The music in the movie is an energetic and inspired mix of ‘80s pop rock. With songs from A Flock of Seagulls, The Cure, David Bowie, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, George Michael, New Order, Public Enemy and Queen, the soundtrack is almost always a driving element of any scene. Although the action isn’t exactly choreographed to the beat of the song, it tends to match the tempo and atmosphere of Cold War Germany.
Theron has never been afraid to put her body through the wringer or show an unattractive side of herself for a role. In this case, her gorgeous exterior is repeatedly pummelled so the first image of her on the screen is covered in head-to-toe cuts and bruises. Her remedy for this isn’t make-up, but an ice bath, a few bandages and some painkillers with a vodka chaser. Then she puts on her stylish, professional pants suit and goes to work. She exudes confidence and strength, and it’s stunning. Unfortunately the plot gets a little muddy around the middle as everyone goes behind everyone else’s back, but the basic mission regarding a priceless microfiche and man codenamed Spyglass (Eddie Marsan) is solid. Toby Jones and John Goodman also appear as high-ranking MI6 and CIA agents respectively, while Sofia Boutella portrays a novice French spy.
A cross between John Wick and James Bond, she doesn’t nearly approach the former’s body count nor the latter’s globetrotting — but she does look good in a suit, likes her vodka on the rocks and doesn’t back down until the job is done.
Director: David Leitch
Starring: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy and John Goodman
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