Movie Review: "Atomic Blonde"
When a fellow MI6 agent is killed for the sensitive information, known as The List, he carried on him, Lorraine (Charlize Theron) was sent to Berlin during the Cold War to retrieve it. Once there, she met her contact, Percival (James McAvoy), and the two immediately became under heavy fire from hostile forces in Berlin. Lorraine then believed that she was working with a traitor who was informing to the hostile forces. Lorraine then had to find out who killed her fellow agent, find The List and discover who the traitor was all while fighting her way through hostile forces that seemRd to know her every move.
In the present, Lorraine is being interviewed by a superior MI6 agent (Toby Jones) and a CIA agent (John Goodman) as they ask Lorraine to recollect these events so they can try to determine exactly what happened in Berlin.
The Pros & Cons
The Action (+10pts)
Charlize Theron & James McAvoy (+6pts)
Writing & Timeline (-10pts)
The Soundtrack (+2pts)
NSFW Charlize (-2pts)
Pro: The Action (+10pts)
The action was definitely where this movie was at its strongest. It is a film that is absolutely packed with action sequences and guess what, NO SHAKEY cam. Believe it or not, this movie utilizes awesome action choreography that is not unlike John Wick. Where this movie differs from John Wick, is that the best action sequences of this film do not involve guns. The action in this movie is brutal, well-shot and the characters walk away battered and bruised. With every fight, Charlize's character seems a bit weaker than her previous brawl which was an element that I really enjoyed watching.
Con: Satchel (-3pts)
I honestly do not know why this story point was even in the film. Basically there is this mystery person whose alias is "Satchel". We know literally nothing about Satchel. All we know is that Satchel is bad and absolutely MUST be caught. We know that Satchel is most likely a character we have seen but the mystery is finding out who it is. This was an extremely dumb plot point. If you are going to present a mystery like this, you have to at least mention what it is that this alias has supposedly done. Otherwise, why should the audience care about a plot point that the writers/filmmakers clearly did not believe in? They basically said "one of the characters goes by another name and all the other characters take it very seriously so you should too"
Pro: Charlize Theron & James McAvoy (+6pts)
Charlize Theron is great in this role as she has been with so many roles before this. She embodies this character very well. On the surface, it would seem like she delivers this character's lines in an emotionless way. She is able to convey, through very subtle glances of her eyes, the emotional pain and distrust that her character suffers through. We never learn the depth of it, but we know that this is an extremely layered character and we learn this through Charlize Theron's performance.
What can be said about James McAvoy? He absolutely transforms into another character flawlessly. After being blown away by performances in Split, I expected to never be surprised or further impressed by this actor. Yet James McAvoy impresses me once again. Not that this role could possibly be more challenging than Split, but James McAvoy seems to give everything he has into every role he takes on. He transforms into new characters, adds intrigue and depth and does so while making audiences (such as myself) temporarily forget about his past iconic roles. It would be hard for anyone to argue against James McAvoy being one of the best actors of our generation.
Con: Writing & Timline (-10pts)
The plot for this movie is extremely simple. An MI6 operative has been hunted and killed while he was in possession of "The List" which contains detailed information on active operatives. Now MI6 and the CIA want to get it back while enemy operatives are trying to retrieve it. Fairly simple plot, yet this movie tries desperately to make it a complicated story. They keep jumping back and forth between timeline from Charlize Theron running around in Berlin to being interrogated by John Goodman about the events of Berlin. The whole is technically Charlize Theron telling her interviewers about what happened in Berlin, yet we still see scenes of James McAvoy on his own with Charlize no where to be found. So how could she be telling the interviewers about those events? There are several other similar issues that I do not want to get into to avoid spoilers, but this movie has an over-complicated plot of a simple premise and it begins to fall apart the more you think about it.
Pro: The Soundtrack (+2pts)
While I do not think anyone will be running out of theaters raving about how great this soundtrack was, I do think the film utilizes its music very effectively. Each song sets the tone of this film very well and it keeps the movie feeling fun.
Con: NSFW Charlize (-2pts)
Charlize Theron naked in a bath tub. Charlize Theron standing nude in front of a mirror. Charlize Theron putting on lingerie/spy-gear. Charlize Theron engaging in some girl-on-girl action. This movie shows so many Charlize NSFW scenes and it feels pretty redundant. Do not get me wrong, she is in no way an ugly woman, but these scenes feel so unnecessary and feel like a desperate marketing plow to get men into theaters to see a female led action movie. How about just focus on making a good action movie?
Grade: C+ (78pts)
Atomic Blonde is a decent action movie that relies on action choreography rather than shaky cam. Its two lead actors definitely add depth to this film with Charlize Theron capturing subtle emotional pain and James McAvoy flawlessly transforming himself into yet another interesting character. The movie starts to fall apart when you begin analyzing the plot. The timeline makes no sense and creates an over-complicated story and the "Satchel" plot point is so underdeveloped that it ends up wasting screen time that could be spent elsewhere.
If you are going into this movie hoping for some good action, you will not be disappointed. If you are hoping for an interesting story then I suggest you find another film. I do not think this is a bad movie, but I do not think that it is worth your money in admission and concessions. Go ahead and wait for it to hit Netflix and Home Video.