On paper Atomic Blonde is perfect: it has the color and flair of the punk 80’s and the action of John Wick. Plus, it features one of the greatest action stars currently working, Charlize Theron. Mix in a little cold war era spy intrigue, and things get even better. You look at everything Atomic Blonde has going for it, and you think it is going to be amazing, but sadly it falls a little flat in places, so it ends up being merely pretty good. Watching a good movie should never make you feel let down, but when it had so much potential, it is hard not to be disappointed.
The hook for Atomic Blonde is fabulous. You let Charlize Theron loose in Berlin just as the wall is about to come down, and she has to fight her way through every intelligence agency in town while trying to find some list with a bunch of spies’ names on it. Can she trust the people she is working with? Absolutely not, but we know she will claw her way to the top of the spy pile.
I was buzzing when I saw the first trailer for Atomic Blonde, and I was even more excited when I found out it was being directed by one of the guys that brought us John Wick, David Leitch. Here is the thing, while Leitch did a great job bringing the style and filming the stunts, the spy stuff was all pretty by the numbers. Sure there are the usual spy twists, but nothing that thrilling. You just have to wait through it to get to the next fight sequence.
However, the fight sequences and the style do almost make up for the lack of an interesting plot. I mean Atomic Blonde is so cool to look at, and you can feel every punch that gets thrown and every set of keys that get stuck is some dude’s face. Theron was meant to be in movies like this. I want to see her punch and kick everything and everyone. I would faint if she and Keanu Reeves ended up in a movie together.
So where does this leave us? With a movie that oozes style (and more than a little blood), and has some wonderful stunt choreography, but with spy-craft that is less than intriguing. Hey, if you are just going in for the action, you will probably like Atomic Blonde, but if you were expecting a little more because of all the potential, it is hard not to be disappointed, so just temper your expectations, and things will be fine.