Coming as no surprise to anyone who saw Fury Road a couple of years ago, Charlize Theron cements herself as a bona fide action hero in Atomic Blonde. Kicking ass, drinking hard and romancing a beautiful lady, Charlize ticks all the 80’s action boxes, becoming 2017’s equivalent of 1987 Bruce Willis. Just a lot better looking.
Directed by John Wick’s David Leitch, Atomic Blonde is a taut, neon, 80’s-set noir action spy thriller. Despite the mix of genres, Leitch retains tight control over the story and we’re dragged along on a wild, twisty ride.
I suppose I’d better talk about the plot before I go on about the soundtrack and the visuals.
Willkommen in Berlin mein freunde! It’s November 1989 and the Berlin wall is weeks away from falling. British spy Lorraine Broughton is sent to Germany to retrieve the body of a dead agent and lands in a Web of intrigue and deceit. Who is the double agent Satchel? Where is the missing list of all of the secret agent’s real names? Along the way she encounters rogue agent David Percival, played by James “I’m having a great 2017” McAvoy, not wholly trustworthy but her key to survival.
Look, I can’t elaborate on the story any further. I’d break my cover. Oh and I would ruin the film. Based on The Coldest City, a graphic novel written by Antony Johnston and illustrated by Sam Hart, Atomic Blonde retains near enough the whole story, just adding a few new details and swapping a character’s gender. The book is fantastic and well worth a read, Johnston and Hart should be proud of this adaptation.
The supporting characters are fleshed out by some incredible actors, John Goodman, Toby Jones, Til Schweiger and Eddie Marsan all showing up and bringing their pedigree to the film. Fresh off being The Mummy Sofia Boutella plays Delphine Lasalle, a French agent agent gender swapped from the books, still being bedded by Broughton, adding a new level to the story. Despite being very much the co-star McAvoy comes close to stealing the show, getting all the best lines and hamming it up gloriously. He’s always been a great actor but since Split, I feel like he’s gone to that next level. Also look out for the future Pennywise, Bill Skaarsgard! He gets a few good scenes, but all I could see was that scary clown face every time I saw him.
David Leitch has crafted a gorgeous film, contrasting scenes bathed in neon lights with the icy blues of the debriefing room. It’s comparisons to his own John Wick are justified and I’m looking forward to his Deadpool sequel more than ever. The fight scenes and action choreography are simply stunning. There’s one 10 minute scene towards the end shot as if it’s one take. Mind blowing. Makes that legendary hallway fight from Netflix’s Daredevil show look like a schoolyard slap-fest.
So let’s talk about the music. The soundtrack is very, very cool. A mix of 80’s classics and, well, covers of 80’s classics, the right songs dropped at the right time. New Order, Bowie, A Flock of Seagulls, Depeche Mode. Some absolute classics and not always the obvious choices. Tyler Bates‘ score is also fantastic, acting as a heartbeat to some of the film, the pulsing electronica fitting so well to the visuals.
A well paced, action packed spy romp, not too over the top and never too po-faced, Atomic Blonde is in cinemas now, it’s very much worth your time.
Find my podcast interview with Antony Johnston here or search iTunes podcasts for Supernerds UK. He talks about Atomic Blonde and all of his other works!
For fans of:
Kingsman: The Secret Service