There’s a fight sequence almost two thirds of the way through Atomic Blonde that I’m convinced is going to go down as an all time classic. It will rock your socks, plain and simple. The whole movie actually is pretty strong when it comes to action sequences. That being said, the real selling point is Charlize Theron, who turns in her most kick ass performance to date. She’s truly spectacular here, showing that what she did in Mad Max: Fury Road (we can pretend things like Aeon Flux never happened) wasn’t a one off. This week, the film hits theaters and should delight those of you who wish more women would get to kick some ass. Trust me, ass is kicked here, to say the least.
Discussing the plot of this movie is kind of dumb, since it makes no sense, but here goes nothing. Told in flashbacks, we follow undercover MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Theron) as she’s sent to Berlin during the end of the Cold War. Her mission is to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents, one that could be disastrous for all covert operatives if it falls into the wrong hands. As she explains what went down to MI6 superior officer Eric Gray (Toby Jones) and CIA man Emmett Kurzfeld (John Goodman), we unravel a tale of deceit and murder. Through it all are her dealings with rogue agent David Percival (James McAvoy), who never seems to be sticking to one side. Who is playing who, though? Can David be trusted? Can French rookie operative Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella) be? Can Lorraine even be? You’ll see, but you’ll likely be puzzled during large parts of it. David Leitch directs a script by Kurt Johnstad (adapting the graphic novel series The Coldest City), while the supporting cast also includes James Faulkner, Sam Hargrave, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson, Eddie Marsan, Roland Møller, Til Schweiger, Bill Skarsgård, and more. Tyler Bates provides the score, while the impressive cinematography is by Jonathan Sela.
Theron and the action itself make this one worthwhile. Under the radar, Leitch has become a top tier director for this sort of thing in short order. After a long career doing stunts with partner Chad Stahelski, they co-directed the first John Wick. Stahelski is continuing that franchise, while Leitch moved to this project and now has Deadpool 2 coming up next. That property is definitely in good hands. He puts McAvoy and Theron through the wringer here. The former is chewing scenery, while the latter is just being the badass of 2017 so far. She’s terrific. The aforementioned action set piece, designed to appear as one take, is positively breathtaking. Kudos to Leitch and especially Theron for pulling it off. It’s a true achievement.
Here is how I would rank Theron’s ten best performances to date:
10. The Curse of the Jade Scorpion
9. In the Valley of Elah
8. The Yards
7. A Million Ways to Die in the West
6. The Life and Death of Peter Sellers
5. North Country
4. Mad Max: Fury Road
3. Atomic Blonde
2. Young Adult
As a bonus, here’s how I would do the same for McAvoy, ranking wise:
9. The Last Station
7. X-Men: Days of Future Past
5. X-Men: First Class
4. Atomic Blonde
3. The Last King of Scotland
1. The Disappearance of Elenor Rigby (Him/Her/Them)
If you love action, Friday brings a real treat for you with Atomic Blonde. It really does blow you away with its fight choreography, Theron performance, and overall style. The story is a weak link, but it hardly keeps this from being one of the most fun genre experiences of the year so far. If you’re a fan of Theron kicking ass, as I’ve mentioned numerous times here, you’ll more than get your money’s worth. The central fight scene alone is a must see. Everything else is almost just like a bonus. Give it a shot and I’m sure you’ll be delighted by its insanity…
Be sure to check out Atomic Blonde, in theaters everywhere this weekend!