Lorraine Broughton weighs about 100 lbs. And that’s including the Debbie Harry wig.
So, of course, she’s the leading commie basher in Her Majesty’s Super Duper Secret Service.
And where better to fight for truth, justice and the non-communist way than in East Berlin during the closing moments of 1989, as The Berlin Wall quivers, only days away from being busted into colorful concrete chunks small enough to be sold on eBay a decade later.
‘Atomic Blonde‘ is a spy vs. spy action tale that delivers exactly what you’d expect it to deliver. It’s slick, dark, violent, silly, overdone and predictably preposterous in every way that we’ve come to expect from a standard, big budget ‘who has the microfilm…???’ espionage narrative.
Charlize Theron stomps and slinks through the nondescript communist boulevards of East Berlin like a reved-up Sharon Stone for the 20-teens. (There’s actually an ongoing interrogation scene – complete with smoldering cigarette – that could be spliced with the interrogation scene in ‘Basic Instinct.’ The only thing missing in this version was the leg-crossing crotch shot.)
She’s great to look at as she spins, kicks, punches and dive-rolls her way through the elaborate fight scenes like a member of the Martha Graham dancers who’s trained with SEAL Team 6.
Likewise, she slithers and prowls with equal ease and skill though the trendiest nightclubs that the Iron Curtain has to offer, always aware that she might need to throttle anyone who attempts to strike-up a conversation with her.
It’s engaging stuff to look at, for sure – like a Depeche Mode video filmed by Adrian Lyne.
Ultimately, however, the look of the movie is the movie.
It’s harmless fun. But it’s really not much more than a 2-hour backdrop for an anachronistic MTV soundtrack, a lazy interpretation of ’80s fashion and some grimy, industrial lighting that lets us know that we’re in a bad place where bad things happen.
Everything else – including the exhaustive, way-too-perfect fight scenes – is just an ongoing excuse to keep dressing Charlize Theron in bulky, wool, turtle-neck sweaters, trench coats and stiletto heels.
Further complicating things is the constant double-crossing in which the lead characters engage, not only with each other but also with everyone whom them meet. It doesn’t take very long for you to feel as if you don’t need to pay attention to anything that’s happening at any given time. Why bother…??? The next scene will negate everything that you think you’ve just learned. It gets tiresome. Quickly.
As a movie, this one is obvious, heavy handed and kinda flat.
I’m sure that someone associated with the production probably would say that some of that effect is meant to be intentional, a reflection of East Berlin during the Cold War. But, I don’t think that the director was that smart. I think he just fell in love with a cool aesthetic, a throwback iTunes playlist and a lot of intricately choreographed Marvel superhero-esque fight scenes. He smooshed those things together and called it a movie.
This is a movie that tries to make you root for a hero – who may or may not exist – as she fights for a cause that you don’t really understand, much less care about.
It’s certainly nice to look at, though.