Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10
Cast: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Eddie Marsan, John Goodman, Toby Jones, James Faulkner, Roland Møller , Sofia Boutella, Bill Skarsgård , Sam Hargrave, Johannes, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson , Til Scheiger, Barbara Sokowa.
It could be construed as Spy versus Spy but without the humour or anarchic level of higher learning and yet Atomic Blonde takes on the genre with surprisingly good value and with a storyline that is surrounded by one of the great moments in European history; the Berlin had stood as a symbol of the Cold War for 28 years but as the heat exchanged between Charlize Theron and all who stood in her built up, Atomic Blonde is nothing but explosive from start to the inevitable fall out.
Whilst based upon the Antony Johnston and Sam Hart graphic novel The Coldest City, there is no denying the legs that the film has in terms of a possible series, if anything it shows that the call for a female James Bond is one that should perhaps be forgotten, for why would you want to limit the potential available to a female actor when someone as sublime in the action/spy role as Charlize Theron in many ways either matches or exceeds what the institutionalised Bond can do. There are rules, boundaries, and certain expectations that come with the Bond franchise, however such confines are not in place in a world that has only been viewed thus far in graphic novel form.
Serving Queen and country, even when apparently having gone rogue, is still a sense of obligation that restricts Bond, not so Lorraine Broughton, mentally and physically tough, a spy within a spy, an independent woman playing completely against the rules and utterly dangerous to know. Both characters have their attributes, their appeal to the cinema public, both can exist in the cinematic perfectly.
Charlize Theron plays the part of the MI6 agent with absolute style and whilst the plot at times might be stretched thin, it doesn’t detract from the time line, the action of the piece. The backdrop of the fall of the Berlin Wall is inspired, to those who were watching history unfold, regardless of whether they were there in the rebellion of the last 50 years or watching with keen anticipation at home on the television, this was a pivotal moment and one that was exploited with considerable depth.
With James McAvoy, Bill Skarsgard and Eddie Marsan adding robust and durable performances to the Berlin scene, the striking dominant colours in the clubs against the grey and decaying buildings that dictated life along the line that separated East and West, Atomic Blonde should be hopefully seen as the start of a new spy franchise, the period of time is there to exploit as the James Bond films were not truly up to scratch in that era.
A really good film, arguably one of the more aggressive of the genre it inhabits but one that captures the feeling of optimism, trepidation and sense of freedom that came with those days when Berlin fought back against a symbol of hate, distrust and fear.
Ian D. Hall