Atomic Blonde (2017)

Directed by: The Uncredited Director of John Wick (David Leitch)

Written by: The Guy Who Wrote 300 (Kurt Johnstad)

Starring: For British Eyes Only (Charlize Theron), The Young Professor X (James McAvoy), Always Good to See (John Goodman), and The Chick With Knives For Legs From Kingsman (Sofia Boutella)

After a long dry spell of action movies, I’m glad they’re making a comeback. Atomic Blonde is stylish and brutal. With it’s clear use of focus and design with every shot and fight scene, it’s a breath of fresh air for the genre.

I was surprised when reading up on Director, David Leitch, that Atomic Blonde is one of his first films as a director. He’s worked in stunts for the past twenty years and it shows.

Set in 1989, Berlin, Atomic Blonde deals with shifts in power structures at the end of the Cold War. Tensions in Berlin are rising towards action and our heroine, Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron), is tasked with retrieving intel both East and West want. Lorraine proves to be an unreliable narrator as she retells the events of her mission to Berlin to her superior officers at MI6 and the CIA. They’re audience surrogates, unsure as to whether or not they can trust Lorraine or her account of what went down. It’s effective in espionage movies and keeps us guessing.

The film uses the setting to its full potential. Many scenes are shot with neon lights illuminating the characters, the sets and costumes are detailed and authentic to the era. The soundtrack reflects this as well with well-known 80’s anthems fired off at rapid speed.

While Charlize Theron and James McAvoy are known powerhouses, it was Sofia Boutella who shined in this film. She plays Delphine LaSalle, the doe eyed French spy who develops feelings for Lorraine. We’re so used to seeing Sofia in roles where she plays “hard” characters. Characters who are either unemotional or unyielding. We’ve never seen Sofia play “soft” and she pulls it off with such a genuine performance.

Atomic Blonde is a spy movie classic I will put on my shelf next to ‘The Long Kiss Goodnight’ and ‘Inglorious Basterds’. It’s so good. Everything is slick and planned with a creative touch. Costumes, editing, shot composition, fight choreography, it’s all top notch. And, entertaining as hell. There aren’t many people I wouldn’t recommend this film too. Film buffs will get a kick out of how well crafted it is, whereas a layman will just enjoy a fun action packed mystery with a hot lesbian sex scene.