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Atomic Blonde review: Convoluted plot aside, Charlize Theron is smashing as female John Wick

Sahil Bhalla | Updated on: 11 August 2017, 0:30 IST
(Atomic Blonde movie still)

“Charlize Theron is a female John Wick” or “Charlize Theron is the female James Bond” is what was being thrown around by viewers upon watching the Cold War spy thriller. Rightfully so. Atomic Blonde is directed by none other than John Wick’s co-director David Leitch.

The movie may be a little bit over the top and the plot a tad complicated but if you’ve been longing for a female led espionage flick, then you’re going to want to see Atomic Blonde on the big screen.

The movie is written by Kurt Johnstad and based on Antony Johnston’s graphic novel, The Coldest City.

The plot

Charlize Theron is a Cold Warrior. On the eve of the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of Communism in 1989, Mi6 agent Lorraine (Charlize Theron) is dispatched to Berlin. She dips in and out of East and West Germany, recovering a valuable asset and to eliminate a double agent.

We first encounter Lorraine, in a bathtub full of ice, emerging with her face and body badly bruised. The audience has just one question what exactly happened?

Emmett Kurzfeld (John Goodman) of the CIA and Eric Gray (Toby Jones) have the exact same question for rogue agent Lorraine.

Once the plot flashes back ten days to the murder of an American spy, it moves on to some double-dealing, involving David Perceval (James McEvoy) and the hunt for a top-secret list. This is some John LeCarre Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy style double-dealing.

The queen of action cinema

Theron is captivating in nearly each and every scene during the 115-minute film, just like she did as Furiosa in 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road (she even had a cameo in The Fate of The Furious. In Atomic Blonde, she gets her due time with about half a dozen showdowns, which were reminiscent of The Raid movies.

When Theron gets going, she outclasses the likes of Bond and Bourne without breaking a sweat. There is a nearly 10-minute 'one take' stairwell scene that is the highlight of the movie.

The hard hitting action scenes offer a moment of release from the tension, which is something not seen in many other action movies. After a long-take fight choreography, there is a moment of pause, letting Lorraine and her enemies take a breather before the latter stumbles back to his feet, paler than ever.

Atomic Blonde movie still

The hard hitting action scenes offer a moment of release from the tension, which is something not seen in many other action movies. After a long-take fight choreography, there is a moment of pause, letting Lorraine and her enemies take a breather before the latter stumbles back to his feet, paler than ever.

Of thrillers and lighting schemes

If you’ve seen your fair share of thrillers, then you might be able to guess the film’s reveal within the first half hour. That isn’t to take away from the film though.

The dazzling choice of blue and pink neons - Nicolas Winding Refn-esque - lends to the nostalgia of an 80s period piece, dazzling throughout. Lorraine has been dressed up to the hilt, in certain scenes, but put Theron in anything and she’ll excel.

Atomic Blonde movie still

Should you watch it?

The plot may be flimsy and convoluted but the top-shelf action is what propels the movie to greater heights. Couple that with a top notch soundtrack that has a number of recognizable songs and you’ve got a winning combination.

Choosing style over substance is a decision one will never understand. Nonetheless, this movie is more for those wanting to see a mindless action thriller than those looking for an intelligent cold war espionage thriller.

Still, with its delightful action choreography and moody cinematography, Atomic Blonde is worth it on the big screen.

Rating: 3.5/5

First published: 11 August 2017, 0:30 IST
 
Sahil Bhalla @IMSahilBhalla

Sahil is a correspondent at Catch. A gadget freak, he loves offering free tech support to family and friends. He studied at Sarah Lawrence College, New York and worked previously for Scroll. He selectively boycotts fast food chains, worries about Arsenal, and travels whenever and wherever he can. Sahil is an unapologetic foodie and a film aficionado.

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