Atomic Blonde review: style over substance

Charlize Theron.
Charlize Theron.

MOVE over Bond and Bourne, ’80s punk era MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton is here and she is downing straight vodka like it’s water, dropping heavyweights like they’re feathers and bedding women like… you.

When a colleague is killed, undercover Secret Intelligence Service agent Broughton (Charlize Theron) travels to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate his murder.

Also on her agenda is to recover a missing list of double agents, before it falls into the wrong hands and their true identities revealed.

But who can she trust? Her local contact David Percival (James McAvoy) or the sexy French agent she sleeps with, Delphine (Sofia Boutella)?

Probably nobody, if these films have taught us anything. But it is a ride and a half to find out.

Told in flashback with an energetic visual flair to a thumping ’80s soundtrack, Atomic Blonde often awkwardly borders on male teenage fantasy.

Stunt co-ordinator turned director David Leitch serves up some impressive action sequences; a one-shot staircase battle between Lorraine and a bunch of brutish goons is a tour-de-force.

It is a case of style over substance; Leitch’s vision is certainly hip and he is consistently inventive (it is no surprise he is set to direct the Deadpool sequel).

Theron kicks butt in more ways than one, further solidifying herself after Mad Max: Fury Road as a cinematic hero we all want and need.

Yet if one is to be picky, it is that she seems to takes the role a bit more seriously than she should; her performance here is more aligned with her other icy turns in Snow White and Prometheus.

It would have been nice to see her with a bit more of a sense of humour about it, considering this movie is, visually, about having fun.


Atomic Blonde (MA)

Directed by: David Leitch

Starring: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman

Three and a half stars

Review by Julian Wright

In cinema August 3

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