'Atomic Blonde' at its best when it lets Charlize Theron explode

'Atomic Blonde' at its best when it lets Charlize Theron explode

This distance adds to her mystery and it also makes the eruptions of violence more electric. ("I'm gonna kill you, bitch!" one villain smirks, second before she runs a corkscrew threw his trachea; "Am I still a bitch?" she comes back... uh, yeah, definitely!) Even the appreciative preview audience laughed as some of the will-not-die moments. Atomic Blonde is a flawless showcase for her steely action hero charisma, and for the fact that she can hand out a nicely-choreographed beating to nameless bad guys as well as anyone of any gender. The question you need to answer is do you want joyless, completely self-unaware stupid like Transformers or a movie that is in on the joke enough to revel in what it is without insulting you for enjoying it? Technically, it's his first film in which he is actually being credited (he is uncredited for his work on the first John Wick). She also looks every bit as stunning as the rest of the film.

Leitch brought what's being called a "neon noir" sensibility to every aspect of "Atomic Blonde".

As MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton, Theron fulfills her long-held desire to play a woman who beats other people up.

The story (based on the graphic novel series The Coldest City) follows MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron), who is assigned to Berlin on the eve of The Berlin Wall's collapse in 1989.

The plot is a paper-thin excuse on which to hang the action sequences, and sees her teaming with McAvoy's cagey David Percival to rescue an informant known as Spyglass (Eddie Marsan), who's in possession of a list of double agents, before Soviet baddies can get to him.

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Theron is more than a worthy action lead, but the underwhelming storytelling and characterisation in Atomic Blonde makes it the wrong sort of vehicle for her acting skill.

"Atomic Blonde" is centered around Lorraine's interrogation, 10 days after an incident in Berlin, by an MI6 investigator (Toby Jones) and a high-ranking Central Intelligence Agency operative (John Goodman) that mostly just serves to interrupt the movie's flow. The movie had good flow and pacing and just the right amount of action so it didn't go over the top. Theron is thoroughly convincing in the action but struggles a little with her underwritten part and an accent that shouldn't seem as self-conscious as it is. You know, the Atomic Blonde universe is its own universe.

Theron's action star credentials were established in Mad Max: Fury Road, and she burnishes them here. The script by Kurt Johnstad is based on the graphic novel "The Coldest City", by Antony Johnston. The world that they understood of lies and secrets and untruths and backstabbing, which was their truth, was about to be shattered and the world is about to experience something great. Should the producers seriously consider a crossover for the two action movies, there wouldn't be much red tape, and it may be a lot easier to film than originally thought. That would be David Leitch, who's at the forefront of doing stunts in many movies, even for Brad Pitt. 115 minutes. R (sequences of strong violence, language throughout, some sexuality/nudity). While Leitch is happy to see the two characters on one screen together, a team-up is not possible. In Atomic Blonde, Charlize and her adversaries finish fights wheezing, staggering around covered in blood, spit, and snot - like Patricia Arquette and James Gandolfini's bathroom fight in True Romance. Atomic Blonde is still good, stylish fun.

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The only other woman in sight - aside from a frosty coronor played by the great German actress Barbara Sukowa - is Delphine LaSalle (Sofia Boutella), a naïve French spy who falls into bed with Lorraine in a scene that plays as an awkward midway point between a Bond-girl seduction scene and the French lesbian drama "Blue Is the Warmest Color".