Angie Pedersen - Contributing Reviewer
In 1989, I was just starting college, and remember watching the Berlin Wall being torn down on the news. It was a bit surreal, being so far removed from what life must have been like in Germany at this time. This bystander-in-my-dorm-room experience was vastly different from what Charlize Theron experienced in Atomic Blonde.
Set against the backdrop of the Cold War in the late 80s, Atomic Blonde tells the story of MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (played by Oscar winner Theron), whose mission it is to find out who has been killing Western spies in Berlin, as well as recover a master list of spies and their locations. She is paired with another operative, David Percival, played by James McAvoy, to unravel the mystery.
The movie is based on the Oni Press graphic novel series, “The Coldest City” by Antony Johnston. I’ve been seeing the previews for Atomic Blonde for several months, and was immediately drawn in by Theron’s fight scenes, pithy lines, and the nostalgic soundtrack. Thanks to Kansas City Comic Con, I was able to get a sneak peek at the film earlier this week.
I have to admit - the movie was not what I expected. While definitely an action-thriller, I envisioned non-stop action, based on the previews. The film turned out to be more story-driven, setting the scene of other spies who had already failed at this mission, double agents, and an international assembly of intelligence agencies, both working together and at odds. At times, I found all the storybuilding to be a bit slow - I was anxious for more bad guy beatdowns.
Some who see this movie will likely call Theron a “female James Bond,” but that’s only because we have so few female spy comparisons. She takes out just as many bad guys as a typical Bond flick, but in a skirt and heels. My husband said the movie reminded him more of John Wick, which makes sense because they were directed by the same person, David Leitch.
The fight scenes are a thing of beauty - and brutality. They aren’t smooth and effortless - they are gritty, raw, and believable. Variety reported that Theron worked with a team of eight trainers for months, and even cracked two teeth during filming, as she did much of her own stunt work. As rough as they were, each fight scene had me on the edge of my seat and wincing, as well as marveling at her ingenuity.
I also really enjoyed the soundtrack, and plan to pick it up soon. It featured such 80s classics as “Major Tom,” “Personal Jesus,” “99 Luftballons,” “London Calling,” and more. This musical backdrop pairs beautifully with each scene - see if you can match up why each song was chosen.
Even though the movie wasn’t quite what I expected, I still enjoyed it. Theron was tough, brilliant, and hard-core. What’s not to love?
Atomic Blonde, directed by David Leitch and starring Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Toby Jones, and Sofia Boutella, opens nationally on July 28. Rated R for sequences of strong violence, language, and some sexuality/nudity.
Angie Pedersen is the Editor and Head Geek of KCGeeks.com, a resource hub for everything geeky in Kansas City. A self-dubbed “geek reporter,” her writing highlights local geek groups and events, with the goal of promoting and nurturing local geek culture. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @kcgeeks.