Atomic Blonde

by Michael Cox

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday July 28, 2017

'Atomic Blonde'
'Atomic Blonde'  

It's a summer of female power, at least in the movies. Bad-ass women are taking on armies and nations - not with their beauty and their charm, but with their fists, their guns and their minds.

The strength of "Atomic Blonde" lies directly in its protagonist. As with Bond and Bourne before her, Charlize Theron's brings us British agent Broughton. Lorraine Broughton. A spy who doesn't drink her martinis shaken or stirred. She pours the vodka straight into the glass.

In the days before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Cold War is hotter than ever, and Broughton is called in after an MI6 agent is murdered for a list of names, every espionage agent working in Berlin, on all sides. In order to attain this Pandora's box of secrets, Broughton must team up with some untrustworthy allies who hail from countries like France and America but play by no one's rules.

First is her contact in the East, David Percival, played as part tiger, part jackal, by James McAvoy. Smarmy and sexy, he's a cross between the character Brando played in "Apocalypse Now" and Pussy Galore. He's not to be trusted, but he's the only one on her country's side. She's also forced to work with an American named Emmett Kurzfeld (John Goodman), a man who instantly makes her bare her claws, and the eager newbie named Delphine (Sophia Boutella), a Frenchwoman who just as quickly brings her to bare her body.

If the Queen can't get ahold of the list, it turns out one of her agents has it memorized. Codename "Spyglass." Played by Eddie Marsan, this man just wants to get himself and his family out of Berlin alive. His knowledge is his only bargaining chip, but it also puts him in the cross hairs of every superpower's scope.

Unfortunately, a prerequisite of the genre seems to be a convoluted and overcomplicated plot mixed with universal insincerity. Since we are instructed to "trust no one," we do just that. So the twists and turn don't end up being that exciting. Rather than empathizing with characters, we feed on bruising, bleeding and bone breaking accompanied by the pop hits of the Regan/Thatcher era.

Oozing with uber-style and ultra-violence, this espionage action film pretends a morally complicated worldview, which ironically questions the need for an alliance with any nation. Then in one final twist, it rips our disillusionment out from under us and says, "Just kidding, one nation is to be trusted, one nation - without ambiguity - is the good guy. We are."


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