For those who enjoyed prior James Bond and Jason Bourne films, why criticize a similar film starring a woman?
Isn’t it ironic that when Hollywood finally starts to center on a woman in a violent, James Bond-like film, that it gets criticized by men because they had trouble understanding it. From my end, while I got lost on occasion with the plot, I must admit that I liked it.
Charlize Theron is magnificent in her role as a sultry, well-dressed agent of England’s secret intelligence service. She absorbs nearly as much physical punishment as she dishes out, which is remarkable given that you seldom saw a bruise on the face of Sean Connery (James Bond), Matt Damon (Jason Bourne) or Vin Diesel (Fast and Furious films). Her only real joy is derived from cigarettes and a handy bottle of vodka.
Atomic Blonde is directed by David Leitch, who previously was a co-director of the extraordinarily well done John Wick films. Here, you follow Ms. Theron, known as Agent Lorraine Broughton, as she is sent to Berlin alone in 1989 to try to recover a stolen list containing the names of fellow agents in order to keep it out of the hands of the KGB.
Toby Jones and John Goodman, two excellent actors, play superior officers to Ms. Theron, and most of the film operates as a flashback to her adventures while being questioned by them at a home office. In the process, she dominates nearly every scene, and she is helped by the performance of the enormously talented James McAvoy who plays a double agent.
The film is also helped by an unfortunately small role from Sofia Boutella, playing an agent known as Delphine. Though her agent is of unknown loyalty, she develops a personal relationship with Ms. Theron. In the process she becomes Agent Broughton’s Pussy Galore, and their sexual encounters, though very brief, rival any similar scenes appearing in any other film over the last several years.
Eddie Marsan, a quiet actor who has always made significant contributions in films over the years, plays Spyglass, an agent who has memorized the contents of the list in question. Ms. Theron seeks to find him and thereafter deliver him to safety if they are able to penetrate the Berlin Wall.
I should also note that Roland Moller gives a compelling performance as Beckmentov, the lead KGB agent. He has a commanding presence, and it is worth remembering his memorable contribution in last year’s Land of Mine, which was nominated for an Oscar in the foreign film category.
This is a film with style that should not be ignored. Never have you seen a woman kick ass and take names only to occasionally get the crap pounded out of her.