Atomic Blonde is not a bad film. However it doesn’t live up to what the trailer promised. Sure, this film has plenty of action in it. Even if it isn’t warranted. The action itself isn’t the problem. The problem is the fact the action is trying to cover up something. That something being how damn boring this movie is.

Just from seeing the trailers, I was excited. Kick ass action and hot lesbian kissing. Sold. And they used a cover of Blue Monday performed by HEALTH. Extra sold! They’re one of my favorite noise bands. I couldn’t wait to see this thing. Even if it kind of reminded me a bit of Salt.

I was so excited in fact, I read the comic it is based on. The Coldest City. I’ll tell you right now, that was a mistake. All the excitement I had for the film up and vanished like a fart. That’s not completely accurate, seeing as farts linger.

The comic was the complete opposite of what the trailers for the film were showing me. You could tell by watching the trailer that not a whole lot was changed. Then the fear started to seep in that all they did was add a bunch of pointless action sequences and gender swapped her love interest.

And after seeing the film, that’s exactly what they did.

I’ve been trying to think of an analogy or a metaphor to help describe this. And I think I came up with one.

Atomic Blonde is a boob job.

It’s based on something that’s pretty bland, boring, nothing all that special about it. An A cup if you will.

So they went in, trying to boost it up to a C cup. Not too big or show offish, perfect for the film’s frame. But as you look closer you start to notice things… They don’t feel natural. They look fine sure, but as you look closer you start to notice the scars where the doctors, in this case the writer, went in and stuffed it with a silicone bag, to give it the illusion of bigger boobs. The silicone in this case being the action sequences.

The only time the film really warranted an action sequence was at the end. That’s literally the only time in the comic there ever was any action. Everything else in this seemed like an excuse to wake the audience up from this boring plotline. I never thought I’d be complaining about action sequences that weren’t filmed by Olivier Megaton.

And the action in this is great, don’t get me wrong, but they are completely pointless to the plot. And as we get further into the plot of this, you’ll see how pointless they really are.

So spoilers I guess, I don’t care.

She’s a Russian spy. Or at least that’s the big twist in the comic. That is if you can stay awake long enough to get to the end. Seriously, who looked at The Coldest City and thought that would make for a great action film? All it is is 170 pages of people sitting around talking about shit you don’t care about.

And like the scars from the implants, you can see where the writer or director tried to find ways to make that interesting. Like for example, Charlize Theron’s character Lorraine goes to visit James McAvoy’s character Percival at his apartment. They talk for a bit before offering to continue their conversion outside for no real reason other than to get the characters moving instead of just standing around talking in one location.

Maybe include a throwaway line like, my apartment might be bugged or something, but to just have them suddenly walk around outside for no reason is weird and an obvious ploy to make it seem like shit is happening when really it isn’t.

Of course the alternative is to do what they did in the comic, just have everyone sitting around like in the Star Wars prequels, talking about boring shit we find ourselves zoning out to.

And the only reason it started in his apartment was so he could slip a listening device into her coat. I guess they couldn’t figure out how to do that if they started their conversation already outside. Or, just never leave the apartment in the first place. Sorry to get hung up on this, but it is shit like this that makes you notice how the sausage is made. If that makes any sense. Maybe I’ll just stick to my breast implant analogy.

The scars, man! You can see the scars throughout this entire film.

So as I was saying, Charlize Theron is a Russian spy. But she’s also a British spy. And she’s also an American CIA spy. Triple spy. But, making her secretly a Russian spy makes the action sequences not make any sense. Mainly because the people she’s attacking are also Russians. Who know she’s a Russian spy. Or at least they should know seeing as at one point one of them questions what the hell is wrong with her? He just wants to talk to you, him being her handler I assume. It’s hard to really tell people apart in this, mainly because they all have shaved heads and giant beards, so to be honest I never really knew who the fuck was who in this. They all looked like Zangief from the Street Fighter games.

When Charlize Theron first shows up in Berlin, she gets picked up by Russian spies acting as her British liaisons. Okay… why? They know she’s a spy secretly working for them don’t they? I mean, I think they show up at the end when she hands over the list to them, so why the façade?

Why then beat the living shit out of them for no other reason than to give us an action sequence? I’m all for action in my films, I love it. But there needs to be a reason for it. It can’t just happen because we need it. This film lacks any kind of motivation for anything really.

Take Dunkirk for example. The film lacked characters sure, but what it had plenty of was clear character motivation. One wanted off the beach, one wanted to stop the German fighter planes from sinking British ships, and another wanted to rescue any soldiers that needed his help.

Very clear and precise motivations. What is Charlize Theron’s motivation in this? Why is she doing any of it? And why should we care?

From the trailers, it made it out to seem like she had a secret affair with the spy who was murdered and took on this mission to find his killers. That’s not the case, hell I’m mostly convinced she was the one who had him killed. So there goes any real motivation she would have had to be doing this or why we should care. I mean, do you really give a damn who has a list of agent spies? Also, the man that has this list, Spyglass, says he memorized the whole list, a list that implicates Charlize Theron’s character as a double agent, most commonly known as Satchel. So wouldn’t he know he can’t trust her? Since you know, he’s put the list to memory.

Okay, so let’s get into this boring convoluted plot, shall we!

Gasciogne is a British spy placed in Berlin. He has with him a list of every known spy or something like that, it isn’t very clear. But he’s instantly killed by some Russian dude. Again, they all look the same. Shaved head, giant beard.

Gasciogne confesses before he dies that the only one who could get the better of him was this agent known as Satchel, who we later learn is Charlize Theron’s character. Cut to a few weeks later and Charlize Theron is being interrogated by her British handlers. She’s giving them the rundown of all the things that proceeded to happen in Berlin.

She was tasked by her superiors to find the missing list of agent spies. But also she is tasked to find Satchel and kill him. But seeing as she’s Satchel, that isn’t going to happen. Not without pushing the blame onto someone else. Now enter James McAvoy’s character Percival.

Some believe he’s gone native while being stationed in Berlin. He can’t be trusted! Though really he’s the only one who can be trusted. His methods might be a bit unorthodox, but he’s still the good loyal British spy. Really I found myself rooting for him to get the better of Charlize Theron, who I found pretty unlikable in this. Was she meant to be playing an emotionless robot?

Anyway, after she beats the shit out of her comrades in a moving car, she runs into Percival. She also notices another person following her, a young sexy baby French spy named Delphine, played by Sofia Boutella. Who I just watched in The Mummy. That’s all I want to say about The Mummy. She was it in.

In the comic she is played by some French guy whose cover is a restaurant owner. Usually a lot of their conversations took place with them just sitting around, drinking wine and talking about that stupid list.

So how do we spice that up? I know, just turn him into a woman and boom, instantly you ignore the fact the character is completely pointless. Ignore the implant scars, folks.

I really didn’t feel any kind of connection between the two. I mean, Charlize Theron knows she is a French spy, she knows she’s using her to get the list. So why play along? I mean, sure, look at her, I get it. But still. She’s meant to be on this time sensitive mission I don’t know why she’s risking it. Honestly it would make more sense to get closer to Percival, wouldn’t it? If anyone is going to find the list, it would be him. Which is exactly what happens.

I guess they needed a reason to make Percival slightly more unlikable by having him strangle Delphine to death. But it has less impact seeing as Charlize Theron had her last lover killed. I think. I’m still unsure of that.

Since no one can find the list, they instead decide to smuggle Spyglass out. The plan changes once Percival secretly gets the list off the big bald headed long beard Russian who killed his friend at the beginning of the film. Killing him as retribution.

By this time he knows Charlize Theron’s character is Satchel. We knew this way before this point, seeing as we are treated to a scene with her meeting John Goodman, who plays a CIA agent. Who we are already introduced to because he’s one of the people debriefing her.

Okay, starting your film out that way… not a fan. It’s a film mechanic I hate. Forget the fact it’s overdone but it also removes any tension of if she’ll make it out of this alive. I mean, she’s telling the story, obviously everything works out. Also I kind of hate it right now because I saw the exact same thing done recently in a terrible Jean-Claude Van Damme movie called Kill’em All.

Percival now has the list but can’t tell Lorraine (Charlize Theron) because he knows what she is. He also can’t let her hand over Spyglass. I mean, there can’t be two lists out there. So he arranges an ambush.

The plan is to sneak Spyglass out, using the growing protest marches outside as cover. But in the confusion of the crowd, Percival puts a slug in Spyglass’ gut. To make things even worse, snipers are perched in a building behind them, taking potshots.

This is the only time in the movie there needed to be an action scene. It’s also long enough to be the only action scene in the film.

The action sequence she had with the police seemed really unnecessary. Plus when she swings out of the window using a hose, I’ve seen that done better. In Machete. When the he instead used a guy’s intestines. But I guess a rubber hose is fine too.

Of course Lorraine fails to keep Spyglass safe, eventually getting him killed. Now she’s back to where she started. Though I guess she figures Percival was the one who set her up.

As she goes to confront him, he’s off taking care of Delphine, her lesbian lover. And no one kills her lovers but her! So she sets Percival up as Satchel, taking the list for herself and killing him.

Now back to present to where she is being interviewed. After successfully setting someone else up for her crimes, she heads to meet up with her Russian handlers, only to betray them as well. Turns out she’s actually a CIA agent too! Aren’t you surprised?! I mean, I know I spoiled it already, but still.

You see any twist coming a mile away, you know 45 minutes into the film she’s Satchel. Hell, a random thought of her being a Russian spy popped in my head just by watching the trailer. That might have to do with the film seeming a bit familiar to the Angelina Jolie movie Salt. I do think Atomic Blonde is a better film. It’s shot wonderfully, giving us that 80’s neon flare. Not to mention the music. Though at times I think it was a bit on the nose. I’m shocked they didn’t play Der Kommissar when Delphine was getting strangled. I mean, they did play the song when the two first meet.

I think they even played the Flock of Seagulls song I Ran (So Far Away) during the big exciting car chance at the end.

Of course they also used 99 Luftballons. I mean, how could they not?

The biggest surprise was when they used a Ministry song. I haven’t heard a Ministry song being used in forever. It was kind of like when I recently rewatched the trailer for Get Shorty, shocked to hear they were using a My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult song.

It’s also interesting whenever I see Daniel Bernhardt pop up in anything. He’s a stunt man and badass martial artist. He’s good pals with Keanu Reeves, having worked together on the Matrix films. I think as his stunt double. But since then they’ve done the John Wick films. Where you might remember him from. I however remember him from Mortal Kombat: Conquest. The terrible Mortal Kombat tv series.

All-in-all, Atomic Blonde wasn’t a terrible film, it was however very disappointing. The action was great, I just wish it was in a film that had a plot I gave a damn about. I’m going to have to say skip this one. Wait until it’s on Netflix.

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1 COMMENT

  1. I loved the first John Wick, but what you say about action here being used in place of plot is the problem that I feel John Wick Chapter 2 suffers from. Well that and the fact that from the opening scene of JW2 through to it’s end you are exposed to non-stop violence. I swear I was desensitized to violence by the end of the first hour and then as a result found the second hour repetitive and boring.

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