Movie Review: Atomic Blonde

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 3/5 stars

Bottom Line: Uneven action.  Convoluted story line.  Dull at times.  Exciting at times.

“Atomic Blonde:” is a spy movie filled with the usual spy intrigues set mostly in Berlin just at the end of the Cold War and the falling of the Berlin Wall.  There are some awesome Berlin sites to be seen in this movie.  If you have Berlin nostalgia, especially the Cold War variety, there’s a lot of visuals for you that most others may not appreciate.  Of course, you also have to get through the movie and that may be a challenge.

The challenging part: There are crosses and double crosses and triple crosses and it’s really confusing keeping them all straight and it might possibly all make sense in the end, but I’m not quite sure and I’m pretty sure a simple phone call at any given time would have cleared the entire mix up.  There is also a bit of a “trying too hard to be cool” vibe to it that kind of takes away from the flow some.  For instance, David Percival (James McAvoy) is supposed to exude cool and careless, but every scene he’s in, all I could think of was I’m watching someone doing a Tyler Durden cosplay.

The non-challenging part: The action is uneven in this movie, but when it’s good, it’s almost laughably good.  Seriously, I was actually laughing through some scenes I was enjoying it so much.  It’s as if they hired one choreographer for some scenes and a completely different choreographer for other scenes.  Charlize Theron, as Lorraine Broughton kicks all sorts of ass in these scenes.  And she takes quite the beating as well.  Which, come to think of it, is kind of fucked up.  How many male spy heroes go through hellish fights with only a black eye or a cut lip for show?  I, for one, love seeing the lead spy taking slightly less damage than is dealt for reality’s sake, but the disparity is there.  In fact, the very first scene in the movie is to show a naked and bruised from head to toe Lorraine climbing into a tub of ice water.  As if to say don’t worry your fragile little egos, boys, she’s tough, but not as tough as your manly spy men.  I think too much.

In the end, I think “Atomic Blonde” tries to promise too much.  It wants to be a legitimate spy thriller and a legitimate action move and, in doing so, fails at both.  It’s still decent fun, especially when it’s hitting on all cylinders.  Nothing about it screams “see me in the theaters”, but we’re getting to the summer lull and if “Atomic Blonde” stays in theaters for a few weeks, it’ll probably be the best thing worth watching.

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