When I heard there was a new film starring Charlize Theron, it piqued my interest. Atomic Blonde was fun to watch most of the time—a leggy, platinum blonde super spy sounds pretty intriguing. But this movie is based on a graphic novel, and that partly explains why it strains credulity—to the point of interfering with its entertainment value. In short, there is an elaborate plot to keep a list that reveals the names of western spies out of the hands of the Communists. The action is set in 1989 East Berlin, just before the wall comes down. It is a chaotic time that lends itself to all kinds of international thugs: there’s the KGB, Stasi, CIA and MI6. Theron is engaging as the best operative MI6 can provide. She’s tough as she battles all of the above culprits, emerging from these battles with bruises (and a black eye) to prove it. I especially liked her super-cool outfits: over-the-knee boots, bustiers, red stilettos (which she used to sever a jugular vein!). And I admired that they showed her completely beaten up, the way a real person would look after all those scenes. I didn’t particularly like the vehicle they chose for advancing the plot, a series of flashbacks during an MI6 debriefing. And I found it glaring that a super spy wouldn’t take more pains to disguise her appearance—a 6-foot-tall platinum blonde doesn’t exactly blend in! On the plus side: the soundtrack was stupendous.
Should you see it? If you like action films, yes.—D.W.