ATOMIC BLONDE: kicks ass, looks great doing it

Charlize Theron and James McAvoy in ATOMIC BLONDE

Charlize Theron kicks ass and looks great doing it in the most entertaining espionage action thriller Atomic Blonde.  Theron plays a British secret agent on a mission behind the Iron Curtain just before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  The MacGuffins that she must recover are a list of clandestine operatives and the double agent who has memorized the list.  She runs into more shady characters than in The Third Man’s Vienna, chief amongst them a debauched British agent gone rogue (James McAvoy).

There is intrigue and backstabbing, double-crossing and  at least one major plot twist.  The brutal action is exquisitely filmed and edited, and the Atomic Blonde qualifies as a full-fledged martial arts movie.  Theron’s character is so Stoli-fuelled, that Stolichnaya Vodka must have paid a fortune for product placement.

Atomic Blonde makes excellent use of a more somber version of 99 luftballons (a 1983 hit by the German group Nena).  There’s a Bond-like opening song, too.

Theron is a superb actress with wide-ranging skills (Monster, The Italian Job, In the Valley of Elah).  And, as we saw in Mad Max: Fury Road, she can credibly carry an action movie.  The rest of the cast is also very good:  McAvoy, Toby Jones, John Goodman, Eddie Marsan and a bunch of scary-looking guys who play commie thugs.

Atomic Blonde is the first feature directing credit for David Leitch, a guy with a long resume as a stunt man as and a stunt coordinator  Leitch sure knows how to film fights and chases, and Atomic Blonde is really a top-notch action film.

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