Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Beautifully brutal 'Atomic Blonde'

Published:Monday | July 31, 2017 | 7:00 AMDamian Levy
Academy Award winner Charlize Theron and Golden Globe nominee James McAvoy star in ‘Atomic Blonde’.

From one-half of the directing duo that brought John Wick to life, comes yet another film about a character with a very particular set of skills. This time, the titular atomic blonde is Lorraine Broughton, played by Charlize Theron, a spy for the British government.

Set in 1989, right before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Atomic Blond follows Broughton on a mission to secure a list of every working intelligence agent within the Soviet Union. Essentially, the pre-Internet version of WikiLeaks. Since her failure could mean the continuance of the Cold War, it's safe to say she is under a tad bit of pressure to succeed.

Theron carries the role with a steely-eyed charisma that would make James Bond blush. The character never speaks above a quiet hush, and much prefers to let her actions speak for themselves. Although she might move like a terminator, her humanity is still present. She doesn't rely on forced humour or quippy dialogue, but you do get a sense of the woman behind the spy.

As I was watching the film, it struck me that this was likely the most adult film I have seen in quite a while. Many films deal with mature themes and show explicit content, but something about the way Atomic Blonde did this, made it a cut above your typical R-rated film. There's nudity, blood and gore, cursing, and each is handled extremely effectively.

 

Incredible choreography

 

The fight scenes in the movie are brutal. There's the same incredible choreography that exists in John Wick films, with Broughton inflicting merciless punishment on her opponents. The movie's bleak cinematography gives way to action that was at times more visceral than entertaining. The film immerses you in spectacular fashion, as you go from admiring the way Broughton dispatches her enemies, to feeling every blow she delivers.

While the film has many successes, it is by no means perfect.

The first half of the film has pacing issues and the story is filled with so many details, it can be hard to follow. Both those issues are minimised by the end of the film, and the film does more right than wrong. I was always engaged and entertained.

It's worth the price of admission.