Atomic Blonde is an action movie masterpiece on par with John Wick, Baby Driver and The Raid. But its story, about spies in Berlin at the end of the Cold War, elevates it far beyond the others. Wick, as mind-blowing as it is, tells a very straight forward story. Atomic Blonde on the other hand is far more complex and full of twists, not all of which involve its top-notch action scenes.
The trifecta of epic action, a great script and some of the best character actors in the industry create an almost perfect film. British spy Lorraine Broughton (Theron) is sent into the Berlin just before the fall of the wall to intercept top secret information. Basic spy stuff, right? Except this is the height of the Cold War and no one is ever who they seem.
Along the way she is helped by her main contact Percival (James McAvoy) who has been an agent in Berlin so long he’s gone full native. McAvoy shines just as much as Theron in the role and it’s pleasure watching him chew the scenery. If Theron’s character is the epitome of calm and collective as she kicks ass McAvoy is her polar opposite. He remains a wild card until the very end as his character seems to run on pure impulse and pleasure.
By bottling the movie in that specific time and place the entire movie feels like a powder keg. The entire country is about collapse around the main characters as chaos and rebellion takes over Berlin. That environment creates a punk rock vibe that permeates the whole movie and elevates every single scene. Add in a soundtrack that nails the period and the entire film just radiates with cool.
The film also cements Charlize Theron as one of the greatest action heroes of the 21st Century. After decades of films like The Fate of the Furious, Mad Max: Fury Road, Aeon Flux and now Atomic Blonde she has deserved a place in that pantheon. She can take a hit with the best of them and serve up the pain just as good. It would be a pleasure to see her go head-to-head in an action movie with Sylvester Stallone or Keanu Reeves, she would probably win.
In a month packed with amazing movies Atomic Blonde makes sure July goes off with a bang.