Based on the graphic novel “The Coldest City,” John Wick’s Director, David Leitch, presents this intense, violent and sickeningly beautiful film to watch this summer. Amazingly well choreographed fights, fashion like every inch of the street is a runway and a cinematography that kills, Atomic Blonde is a bold statement in spy thrillers.
Placed on the verge of the Berlin Wall collapse in 1989, Lorraine Broughton, played by Charlize Theron, is a spy under Her Majesty’s Secret Service who is dropped in Berlin to look for a list containing the names and location of every British intelligence agent. The movie suddenly turns into a little bit confusing and hard to follow story of double agents from several agencies looking for the same list. At some point, Lorraine meets David Percival, a former Berlin bureau chief played by James McAvoy, and set up a strategy to find the list. Later, we find that it was destroyed but the last holder of it memorized it entirely and the pursuit turns into person search and retrieve.
The movie is a complete spectacle of intricate fighting scenes, car chasing and a complex camerawork that captures the total chaos happening in front of our eyes. The colors and tones used in the film make it worthy of an art exhibition. It is in its own way an amazingly beautiful film to watch, preferably in theaters. I doubt a regular TV will be able to capture the well accomplished cinematography and impression you get watching it in the big screen.
The film is loaded with astonishing, silent characters. One of them is Fashion. It seems like Lorraine is not only an international spy but also have an eye for great style. Every scene where Lorraine is on screen seems part of fashion commercial ready to be displayed on Times Square. Sometimes it makes you wonder how much spying is she doing while ‘catwalking’ around the city.
Berlin is also an important character in the film. Both sides of the city are shown as an ever-present atmosphere that give a framework to the movie. The modernity of the west and the sadness and despair of the east mixed with some cultural jokes of the time, are part of the context in display, which gives a little bit of fresh air to the film.
Another important character we don’t get to see but is always in display is the music. 80’s hits, including the German Favorite “99 luftballons”, are constantly on. In a way, the movie feels like an expensive and very well-done music video. This transports you to the decade and give some sense of familiarity to the audience even if you didn’t grow up in this period. The soundtrack for sure will revive the love for the 80s music.
The performances are what can be expected from this genre. Charlize Theron presence in the film is outstanding, her beauty and roughness is incredibly alluring and her “badassness” is, once again, established and extended. She is the ultimate femme fatale. On the other hand, James McAvoy does a little too much of his “bad boy” smirk which comes across as overacting. He is simply not convincing. The rest of the cast is buried in the background. Like in a music video, the rest of the cast would just be the dancers and Charlize, the ultimate performer.
The movie is good with a little too confusing story but with a cinematography that makes it up. It is definitely worthy to watch on the big screen. Just be aware that no matter your sexual orientation, you’ll end up in love Charlize Theron.