“Atomic Blonde” Is a Bone-Breaking, Action-Packed Espionage ’80s Jamfest

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Don’t get it twisted. ATOMIC BLONDE is not a female John Wick. Even though both of the action pics are helmed by the stuntman-turned-director David Leitch, there are two things these movies share: 1.) The two main characters can kick some serious ass and 2.) both stars of the films appear in the 1997 bonkers religious drama The Devil’s Advocate. In this case, the former takes more precedence, obviously.

Set in the ’80s, Charlize Theron continues to showcase the skills she has learned from the “Post-Oscar University of Female Badassery” in Atomic Blonde as Lorraine Broughton, a top notch special agent in Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service. When agents start showing up dead, she is sent to Berlin (during the Cold War and right before the wall was torn down) to retrieve a special and very critical “List” that has landed in the wrong hands. With the help of her unorthodox point person, Chief David Percival (James McAvoy) she rumbles through some sticky situations to complete the mission and along the way encounters some surprises that change the game entirely.

Theron is a bonafide action star that we have been waiting for. The Oscar-winning actress delivers some major bone-breaking fight scenes that are ten times better than any recent American male action star has performed in the past years. In one phenomenal continuous shot, she makes bloody waste to two bad guys that will have the audience cringing and cheering while Theron gives and receives punches and kicks so spectacular that it will leave you in need of a Band-Aid.

Then again, this is all expected from Leitch. As a former stuntman, he certainly knows how to choreograph fight scenes and direct action sequences to where they are hysterically violent, but have a beauty of a ballet. And that’s where Atomic Blonde glows like the pink neon lights in the film. Meanwhile, the espionage storyline take a backseat as they are drowned out by the film’s high-octane brawls and ’80s Eastern Euro-pop art direction, and one a totally rad mixtape of ’80s hits from artists like Flock of Seagulls, New Order, and George Michael that will sure to be on rotation on my Spotify playlist for weeks to come.

From beginning to end this is Theron’s shining moment as an action star. She’s kind of like what Angelina Jolie wanted to be, but didn’t quite get there. She’s like James Bond, but a lot cooler. Instead of shaken martinis, she guzzles down vodka on eyes and instead of nifty gadgets, she beats guys with everyday items like hoses, hotplates and house keys. She even has her own “Broughton Girl” in the form of Sofia Boutella, who she has no shame in exploiting. Adapted by Kurt Johnstad from the graphic novel by Anthony Johnston and Sam Hart, Leitch has delivered another fine action hero which deserves her own franchise…or go toe-to-toe or partner with John Wick. Either way, another round of Lorraine Broughton kicking ass is more than welcome.

Not Yet Rated
Running time: 115 minutes

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Dino watches too much TV, enjoys reality singing competitions and laughs inappropriately during dramatic films. He’s a fan of comedy, podcasts, and comedy podcasts. He’s a reformed comic book geek and thinks “The Goonies” is the best movie of all time. When he isn’t stuffing his face with a burrito, he’s thinking about his next trip to Disneyland.
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 | Staff Writer

SXSW runs from March 10 through 19. For more of the Tracking Board’s coverage of SXSW, click here.

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Still quiet here.sas

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