Charlize Theron is an undercover MI6 agent sent to Berlin during the Cold War to find a list of double agents who are being smuggled into the West. From the co-director of John Wick and co-starring James McAvoy and John Goodman.... More
Lorraine Broughton (Theron) is the most elite spy in MI6, an agent who's willing to use all of her lethal skills to stay alive during an impossible mission. With the Berlin Wall about to fall, she travels into the heart of the city to retrieve a priceless dossier and take down a ruthless espionage ring. Once there, she teams up with an embedded station chief to navigate her way through the deadliest game of spies.Hide
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BY Liam Maguren Flicks Writer
If you're going into Atomic Blonde wanting a simple action film, I can guarantee you at least one moment of ass-kicking amazement that will make the whole film feel like it was worth seeing. But be aware: this isn't a simple action film. It's a complicated action film that isn't very good at telling a complicated story.... More
David Leitch, co-director of stupendous shoot-em-up John Wick, continues the command of vicious stunts and visual style that made his and Chad Stahelski's 2014 film a violent, classy classic. Set during the fall of The Wall, he and his crew make Berlin look like a neon glow stick party (without going full Joel Schumacher). Better yet, Charlize Theron does almost all her own stunts, with the steady camera work making sure you do not question this fact.
When Theron isn't throat-punching her way out of trouble, she makes for a solid, stoic, sick-of-everyone's-shit action hero. She's often humourless, which isn't a necessity, but there isn't much that humanises her aside from a love interest - and even that relationship is kept at a distance. (It's the same reason I never fully loved James Bond.)
At least James McAvoy's there to liven things up, playing a charismatic and shifty-eyed spy embedded deep in Berlin. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast get one-note roles like Frustrated Interrogator (John Goodman), The Rookie (Sofia Boutella), Mr McGuffin (Eddie Marsan), and Some Other Spy (Bill Skarsgård).
One-note characters work for something simple like John Wick, but Atomic Blonde tries to be as complex as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. These side characters aren't deep or memorable, so when the film drops a heap of plot twists and double-/triple-crosses, it's gonna leave many either confused or not caring for the backs that got stabbed.Hide
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BY Alissa-Warren superstar
BY cinemusefilm superstar
Set in 1989 against the backdrop of the imminent collapse of the Berlin Wall, the... More convoluted hall-of-mirrors storyline is framed as a series of flashback episodes. Heroine and M16 top spy Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is being interrogated by several bullying male superiors about an apparently failed mission to recover a microfilm list of undercover spies in Berlin. After the ultra-cool Lorraine recounts each separate phase of her mission we return to the interrogation for more questions which also help the audience make sense of it all. Narrative confusion is nothing compared to life in Berlin where nobody is what they appear to be and every spy she encounters is a double or triple-agent. The once trusted M16 operative in possession of the list has turned feral and Lorraine must get it back to London through a wall of Stasi, KGB, and French agents, and still finds time for a heart-warming lesbian encounter to show the softer side of a super spy. Along every corridor there lurks a gunman and every stairwell presents another opportunity for Lorraine to throw an enemy agent tumbling down in spectacular fashion. But who does what to whom is and why is not as important as the car chases, explosions, shootouts, and a neat finale twist that even Hitchcock would have enjoyed.
While the narrative is stock-standard espionage and not a single character is vaguely likeable, the standout features of this film are the cinematography and choreography. A lot of the filming is on location in Budapest and Berlin, and the free-range camerawork is superb in capturing the frenzied atmosphere of Cold War espionage. The fight scenes are notable for more ignoble reasons: they are incessant, repetitive and possibly among the most inauthentic seen in recent times. Not only is it a stretch to see Lorraine take massive blow after blow without smudging her makeup, it can be tiresome to watch the heads of bad guys begin to turn a split second before the heroine executes another textbook martial arts strike. Many agents take a full barrel of bullets to despatch, but others keep popping up like the decapitated Monty Python knight who will not lay down. If attention wanes at any point, the ear-splitting soundtrack lifts the heartrate to required levels. As for the CGI and those bright red head explosions, don’t even ask.
For many, the phrase ‘Hollywood genre films’ is not complimentary and films like this show why. Maybe filmmakers need reminding that there is more to the portrayal of strong women than making them more violent than men. The gratuitous non-stop carnage at times brings this film closer to a gore mashup than a serious spy thriller. Some people will love the action but apart from great camerawork, this writer found little to commend.Hide
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