The The Coldest City is a the first book of a trilogy of graphic novels written by Anthony Johnson. The novel did “okay” in the department of success but never set the world on fire. Director David Leitch has a unique opportunity here to make a movie that’s actually better than the book. The question becomes, can Atomic Blonde buck the trend and become a better adaptation than the original work or will it be seen as yet another lackluster retread? I spy a review ahead.
In a world of cloak and dagger, the year is 1989 and tensions are high between several countries during the Cold War. The events that occur take place right around the time that the Berlin Wall comes down with so many other things of significance going on behind the scenes. Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is at the epicenter of these spy games as she’s placed directly into harm’s way as she’s tasked with retrieving a list that contains the names and aliases of countless spies operating in secrecy. With little to go on, she’s placed in Germany with only an unknown asset (played by James McAvoy) to help her navigate the unfamiliar foreign terrain. Lorraine finds out quickly that there are a lot of moving parts and her life may depend upon steering clear of the many pitfalls in front of her. The more that she uncovers, the more unclear things become. Atomic Blonde races towards an explosive ending.
This is a fun experience. Let’s start with that right off of the top. The key to this type of success is due to the complexity of the plot, the quality of acting, the obvious well choreographed fight scenes and the excellent soundtrack. Those items right there are sure to keep you entertained throughout. With solid supporting performances by John Goodman, Toby Jones and Sofia Boutella, there are no glaring weak spots to be exploited. Charlize has proven in the past that she can handle these types of roles so she was a pretty safe bet. James McAvoy has great range and he calls on all of his to make is character both likable and despicable at the same time.
Atomic Blonde reminds me of another graphic novel that eventually became a movie. Wanted, which coincidentally also starred James McAvoy, had a shared a similar stylish feel that we also get to experience throughout this new feature. Being whisked away from the harsh reality that we live in, audiences will get to, ummmm, enjoy(?) a world of violence without the added baggage of realism. Kill after kill is acceptable because it feels more like a video game rather than a realistic version of events that will make audiences feel the least bit of sympathy for those that meet less than desirable fates. And it is this strange perverse feeling that makes it almost FUN to watch character after character get mowed down.
While not feeling totally sadistic, Atomic Blonde handles its violent business at hand without sacrificing a solid story. The twisting and surprisingly deep plot should keep viewers glued to the screen and interest piqued. And even though Charlize Theron is now in her 40s, she has never looked better. And as for stuntman-turned-director David Leitch goes, he seems to know what will resonate with audiences. We got a taste of these skills in John Wick (2014), even though he was uncredited as a director which is most likely because he only directed a few of the fight sequences. We were also given a small sample size taste of his ability to entertain in the smallest of his works, Deadpool: No Good Deed, a short little feature that teases fans about the upcoming Deadpool 2 sequel coming next June which, oh yeah, Leitch is also directing. The man has en eye for entertainment plain and simple.
In conclusion, Atomic Blonde lives up to its billing of touting Charlize Theron as the “female James Bond”. Fans of action thrillers will definitely want to put this one on their list of movies to see. Give it a go and check it out in theaters now.