Review: ‘Atomic Blonde’ Charlize Theron Packs Major Action, But Lacks Identity
“Atomic Blonde” effectively culls elements from action hits like “John Wick” and “Mission Impossible,” but fails to bring to screen a unique identity that the audience can connect with.
After watching the screener for “Atomic Blonde” I can’t help but wonder, how could a movie featuring so many fascinating A-Listers turn out to be so lackluster? Charlize Theron even pulls a Keanu Reeves by very physically taking on the role and doing most of her own stunt work. Even still, top-tier cast and piercing action sequences aside, something is missing. That spark that defines a movie we rabidly love and one that’s, to be simply put, “meh.” Unfortunately for the cast and crew of “Atomic Blonde,” what was billed as the female John Wick is a strong “decent” at best.
Cinematics (Cinematography, Acting, Plot, Etc.) – 3
For better or for worse, there is a tried-and-true, time-tested action movie Trobe when it comes to naming the hero. Jason Bourne, John Wick, Frank Duke, Ethan Hunt, Lucy. All these names are simple straightforward and easy to embed in the minds of movie audiences. Lorraine Broughton and David Percival on the other hand…
Now while that may say something negative about us as moviegoer, a complicated name still makes for a forgotten hero. I get it, “Atomic Blonde” is adapted from a graphic novel. Nevertheless, the namesake is a bit too atypical to be easily embraced by moviegoers. Not to mention when you overlay the espionage-driven dialogue, the countless throw-away names and landmark references all clouding the identity of the characters almost to obscurity. And, it’s not in the “good spy movie” way.
Charlize Theron undoubtedly has an unrivaled on screen action prowess. Much like Keanu Reeves for “John Wick,” Theron very-capably physically embodies her character and with a genuine delivery. The complex action choreography made that aspect of her performance all the more impressive. Her movement is memorizing, which is both good and bad. Good in that it’s the most watchable element of the film, but bad in the sense that the rest of the film is bland in comparison.
Director David Leitch (“John Wick”) brings his signature heavy contact action style to this project. What ultimately fails this film is the exhausting dialogue and despondent plot structure.
Entertainment Value – 3
“Atomic Blonde” is splashy, violent, high contrast, sexy and boring… Still, the action IS really great. Charlize Theron sells every punch, kick, grapple and face-smash through a glass table. She also apparently sells Stolichnaya vodka, but that’s a different story. From the road to buildings to the open street, the stunt team puts on an ovation worthy performance. Even though all the set pieces are exhilarating and the action choreography is thrilling, and it is thrilling, the connective tissue is lacking often leaving the audience the drift in laborious blocks of dialogue.
Re-Watchability – 2.5
With only a handful of worthy scenes, there isn’t much that would call for a second viewing. While some other so-so films are visual candidates, worthy of muting the audio and making for a glorified screensaver, “Atomic Blonde” would quickly wear out the fast forward button on your remote. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of Charlize Theron or Sofia Boutella (“The Mummy”), then this may wind up on your media shelf anyway.
- Entertainment Value
"Atomic Blonde" fuses the plot from "Mission Impossible" and the fight choreography of "John Wick," but fails to create its own unique personality. With a slurry of action and a hyper polished aesthetic, Charlize Theron's latest action flick is good, not great.
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