Film Review

Film Review: Atomic Blonde


Directed by: David Leitch

Runtime: 115 minutes

This film, to me, came out of nowhere. One day, I was minding my own business, and the trailer dropped. Watching it, I remember thinking, ‘this is everything I have ever wanted in a film!’ and rushing like a giddy school child to show anyone that I possibly could. Lady spy? Lady spy who kicks ass? James McAvoy in a military jacket and sunglasses? New Order? This film was made for me! The marketing for this flick has been stellar – but does it match its hype?

It’s 1989 and Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron), M16 super spy, must go to Berlin to investigate the death of a fellow intelligence officer. Ordered to work alongside fellow agent David Percival (James McAvoy), Broughton must uncover a mystery, forge uneasy alliances, and, well… kick ass, as the Berlin Wall is about to fall. If I was to reveal any more of the plot, we would be in spoiler territory. What I can say, however, is that the plot is the weakest part of the film. Double-agents, triple-agents – I left the cinema confused about what happened, and unsure of whether I liked it anyway.

The issue with the plot wasn’t that it was incredibly stupid but, in fact, the opposite – it was trying to be far too clever. I felt like we, the audience, were not given ample information to even begin to scratch at what was going on. After a long discussion afterwards, and a convoluted mind-map of threads and character conversations, I believe I did finally work it out. And, in truth, it was quite empty.

Does this mean I hated the film? Well no. Everything else about it ranged from solid to stellar. Theron? Solid. McAvoy? Solid. The soundtrack? Stellar. Despite spending the majority of the film in a slight haze of confusion, everything else about the film kept me thoroughly engaged. It had the action of Bourne and the gravitas of Bond. Theron moved between calm and collected spy to aggressive killing machine with ease. In fact, this film goes some way to solidify her standing as one of the best action stars of today.

The best part of the film is, by far, the fight sequences. About mid-way through the film comes a sequence that lasts about five minutes, with no obvious edits, and straight, dirty, fighting. It was absolutely glorious. To be honest, I would recommend a viewing of the film for this scene alone. Like with any good spy flick, we are treated to a range of different fights: spy vs. bigger man, spy vs. multiple bigger men, spy car chases, etc. In this regard, Atomic Blonde gave me everything that I expected, and more. It is not often I am entranced by action, but here, I was looking forward to any slice of it I could get.

I hesitate to call this film a disappointment. To be honest, I do believe I would have liked it more if it wasn’t for its trailer. I expected a perfect film, the film I have been waiting for my whole life and… I got something solid, but flawed. That’s the issue with hype. If I went into this film without seeing the trailer, I would have been pleasantly surprised. Therefore, I would recommend giving this flick a viewing, just don’t take the hype train on the way to the cinema.

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