From the very first trailer, Atomic Blonde has been garnering comparisons to John Wick as Charlize Theron dodges gunfire and goes tumbling down stairs with two would be attackers. The comparison was inevitable with David Leitch at the helm, he being one half of the directing team that first brought John Wick to the world. Since then he parted ways with the Wick franchise in order to adapt Atomic Blonde from Antony Johnson’s The Coldest City. Do not fret because with Leitch also brought along that grit and raw action that worked so well with John Wick, except he decided to upgrade by replacing Keanu with the always incredible Charlize Theron.
Atomic Blonde is an action/spy thriller that takes place near the end of the cold war in Berlin, just days before the wall is about to come down. Lorraine (Theron) is sent into the divided theater of Berlin by the British government – MI6 to be exact. Her mission is to uncover a plot surrounding a dead counterpart and a missing list of field agents. She will quickly learn that though divided, both East and West Berlin are engaged in a game of deceit and double cross. Surrounded by many dangerous liaisons, Lorraine must find a way to stay standing longer than the wall in order accomplish her mission.
This film is an absolute delight! From the down and dirty realistic fight scenes to the tantalizing games of cat and mouse. The plot is not incredibly profound but it does the job of keeping the viewer entertained, and even holds a twist or two that you cannot label “predictable”. They use the right amount of mystery, suspense and action, while even finding the time for a good car scene. Atomic Blonde keeps you on your toes and smiling throughout the film.
What makes this movie extremely special is the amazing performances put on by a strong cast. From Charlize Theron’s amazing fight scenes where she must use everything to her advantage to best bigger adversaries, to James McAvoy’s shady performance as an off the rails operative that may be too deep under to ever come back. John Goodman, Sofia Boutella, and Bill Skarsgård help round out a strong theatrical performance by the entire cast.
While the whole cast puts on memorable performances, the films success relied on the Charlize’s portrayal of Lorraine. Like all her roles, she brought a high level of quality to her performance. Performing all of her own stunts, she bragged that she had to buy the stunt men drinks in order to be forgiven for the pain she inflicted. This dedication came out with every line and action sequence Theron was in. She created a character that women could envy and men could worship. Unlike everyone’s favorite Amazonian, she didn’t need power of a god or a cutesy innocent attitude to fire up the big screen. Fueled by Stoli, ice baths and a dry wit Charlize provided a heroine that reminds us that not all comic heroes need capes and powers. She brought a life to this character.
When it comes to the source material, Atomic Blonde excelled at bringing The Coldest City to life and improved on every aspect where the graphic novel fell short. Leitch brought more emotion to the personal connections among characters allowing for stronger development and a genuine attachment between actors and audience. He was also able to add multiple layers to the plot, resulting in making the film version a little more complex and a little more intriguing. Most importantly he improved on was the addition of many elaborate fight scenes. Though The Coldest City had a simple and realistic story – one you could believe possible – it was lacking in the action department. A department that you can not have a spy thriller without.
The fight sequences were everything you would expect from a director of John Wick. Unlike Wick though, this film’s high octane sequences laid off on the cheese and let exhaustion and desperation lead the fight over adrenaline. Leitch also gave this film a lot a TLC, from the small details in film editing to the subtle foreshadowing of plot twists. Not to mention a soundtrack that would cause James Gunn to pass an infinity stone. David Leitch proves that he is here to stay and his next comic film may even sell a few tickets.
Speaking of tickets, Atomic Blonde makes her world wide debut on Friday. Where it lacks in shields, hammers and spider senses it more than makes up for in tenacity and originality. So if you want to see the best comic movie of the summer you will have your chance this weekend. Theron and Leitch are not here to save comic book movies, just to remind us what they could be.
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