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As an undercover MI6 agent is sent to Berlin, Atomic Blonde is an investigation into the death of an agent, but also an investigation into loyalty.
Shifting loyalties, a double agent in the mix, and East-Berlin excess are the sort of contents that make my mouth water. Couple that with fantastic and inventive action sequences including a ‘single-shot’ fight scene I should have been leaving the cinema ready and willing to buy another ticket. Unfortunately, Atomic Blonde doesn’t live up to its potential. Ultimately dull and shallow, Atomic Blonde has no personality.
With so much distrust and uncertainty, the inter-personal relationships between the characters are so devoid character that you’re left not caring who the double agent is and who’s not. You’re so aware of the distrust and the ‘life of spy’ that you can’t become invested in anyone. Charlize Theron does her best to rescue what is a wooden script but fails. Not even James MacAvoy’s usual brilliance can relieve Atomic Blonde from an obsession of style over substance.
The sequences are truly beautiful, the stylisation incredible and the fight scenes refreshingly realistic. To see two fighters so exhausted and hurt during a fight that they can barely move was refreshingly interesting and probably the most exciting part of the film. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t make up for films failings. Theron’s character Lorraine Broughton who began as an intriguing enigma became so complex there’s almost no way to understand her motivation, and for me, that’s where Atomic Blonde lost it.
The transition from graphic novel to film is always difficult. From a format where style is everything to one where stories need to develop quickly has been difficult for Atomic Blonde. It’s not terrible, and fans of fight scenes alone would love it, but it wasn’t great either.