The first time I saw the preview for Atomic Blonde I wasn’t exactly delighted at the prospect of Charlize Theron as a spy in 1980s Berlin. But, and it’s a big but, Atomic Blonde is pleasantly surprising and enjoyable and Theron makes it all work.
Directed by David Leitch, Atomic Blonde centers, mostly, around Lorraine Broughton, a spy sent on a mission to Germany in the midst of 1989 and the fall of the Berlin wall. One of the most striking aspects of the film is undoubtedly its excellent cinematography. More specifically, the colour palette utilized throughout the film emphasis the eighties setting without being trite or an overtly obvious attempt to point out the time period to the audience. Similarly, in contract to modern filmmaking practices, the opening scene of the film includes most of the credits, which is further reminiscent of the eighties’ style of filmmaking.
In addition to the cinematography the other most impressive aspect of Atomic Blonde is Charlize Theron. Despite not being disguised or concealed in any way in the film Theron completely and seamlessly disappears into the character. As the audience you’re never conscious that you are watching Hollywood actress Charlize Theron. It seems that this should be a given but all too often actresses, and actors, deliver performances above the character and it’s these types of performances that often lack authenticity and believability. But in the case of Atomic Blonde Theron delivers on her strength as a great actress, which is to become the character rather than to simply portray her. Because of this ability Theron delivers an exceedingly authentic performance.
The directing choices in Atomic Blonde deserve some credit too. While the start of the film is a bit slow in terms of pacing you cannot fault the authenticity that went into this project. One such example being that while, as a female spy, Lorraine is fiercely physical she doesn’t have the brute strength of the male characters she has to overcome throughout the film. This fact isn’t simply ignored and neither is the character impractically endowed with an unrealistic super-strength. Instead, the action and fight scenes, which are easily the best sequences in the film, were choreographed and filmed in such a fashion to show Lorraine as opportunistic and highly skilled in combat scenarios and, most importantly, in a realistic way.
While a bit light in terms of plot at the end of the day it’s Charlize Theron’s ability to carry off the ferocious ass-kicking character with such ease and style that makes Atomic Blonde worth watching.