Atomic Blonde – ★ ★ ★ DVD Review
I think Atomic Blonde was a little over-hyped, and that was the beginning of its downfall for me. I thought it was too stylish, and too concerned with the perfect “cool” shot than advancing the story. It is entirely possible that I’m a little jaded though. To me it was built up to be the next great spy film, and the titular Atomic Blonde was to be a “female James Bond”, but it just seemed too artsy to be a great spy film. It was entertaining, and there were things I enjoyed, but there were things that just frustrated me and kept me from loving this film the way I thought I was told to.
Set in the Cold War against the backdrop of the Berlin Wall, Charlize Theron plays Lorraine Broughton, an undercover MI6 agent sent to investigate the murder of a fellow agent named Gascione and recover a missing list of double agents. In Berlin she meets up with David Percival (James McAvoy), the lead field agent to try and recover the list of agents, and to discover the mole or double agent (code named “Satchel”) in their midst. The film is sort of told in reverse, which is a style I don’t really like for these sorts of stories. We open on Lorraine in London, being brought in for debriefing by MI6 after the mission in Berlin. After we’re quickly introduced to the principal players, we know that Satchel is going to be A or B, but I did have doubts for a minute that it may have been C….literally “C”, as in Chief “C” played by James Faulkner. Then we get the debriefing and the main story is told essentially in flashback. My problem with this style of storytelling for this sort of movie is that we now know Lorraine will not die during the course of the adventure. Sure, enjoyment can be found in the ride but the element of surprise and suspense is kind of ruined.
For a film that was touted as being a great and revolutionary action film, I didn’t really find it to have that much action. Sure there were fight scenes and they were fairly realistic; in so much that people got hurt and weren’t invincible; but there were great lulls too and the great action sequences I thought I was promised took far too long to be realized. There was a “long cut” fight, as those have become really popular all of a sudden, and it was cool, but I couldn’t help but think that it was just there to force the “coolness” and the style of the film.
There were positives and it was entertaining, but there were just too many clichés for me by the time the film ended, like the French spy. She was way too cliché as the love struck, doe eyed rookie, who’s in over her head. The film did do a decent job with it’s switchero, but it was still a little obvious who Satchel was. I suppose the worst thing was that the film wasn’t overly original for something that was seemingly being hyped up as a new leader in the genre. I didn’t really care about Lorraine’s character, partially because she didn’t seem developed or overly interesting, and partially because I knew she’d make to the end of the film.
I don’t know if I’m the only one who does this, but when I get frustrated with a movie I start to look for plot holes and more ways to not the film. I started to get that way with Atomic Blonde. My biggest problem was that with this flurry of agents from all sides trying to get the mythical “list” and figure out who Satchel is, they overlook that there are people who know who Satchel is. Gascione, Percivale, and Spyglass have all had the list at some point. Percivale has definitely read it, Spyglass has it memorized, so logically, all three of them know who Satchel is, but none of them call it in? Anyway, the movie was entertaining, it was actually pretty good, but it wasn’t great like I was led to believe it would have been.
Bottom Line: The most disgusting part of the movie happens in the very beginning. Lorraine is soaking her injuries in a bathtub full of ice before going to her debriefing. She gets out of the tub, pours a drink and adds some icecubes to it before drinking. THOSE ICECUBES CAME FROM THE DIRTY TUB WATER SHE WAS SOAKING HER BLOODY, DIRTY BRUISES IN!