Necessity is the mother of invention, and Lorraine Broughton is one bad mother. At one point in Atomic Blonde, she dispatches a squad of armed attackers with only a garden hose, a stove pot, a freezer door, and some well-placed below the belt kicks.
Move over Jason Bourne, 007, and John Wick. As Broughton, Charlize Theron has the lethal action chops and seductive style to burn. She doesn’t need gadgets like Bond. She doesn’t deliver quips like Schwarzenegger. All she needs is a stiletto-heeled shoe to make her escape from a car being driven by some suspect companions.
It’s 1989, by the way. Broughton, a British Secret Intelligence agent has been sent to East Berlin to find a Russian who killed a fellow M16 spy in possession of a list of every agent working both sides of the Cold War. “Trust no one,” she is told. That may include her contact (James McAvoy) who has really gone native and just loves Berlin’s forbidden thrills, a beautiful French spy (Sofia Boutella), who may be in over head, and perhaps even her bosses. “I chose this life,” she remarks at one point. “Someday it’s going to get me killed, but not today.”
This being a spy thriller, it’s sometimes hard to keep track of all the players and their shifting loyalties, but just stay focused on the Big Picture (list, elusive double agent, Broughton) and you’ll be dazzled by the gritty action scenes that literally leave the combatants (and the viewer) gasping for breath.
Like Baby Driver Atomic Blonde gets a lot of mileage from a killer soundtrack. If you thought you never needed to hear “99 Luftballons” one more time, guess again. It’s just one of the ‘80s tunes that help keep things moving at a breakneck pace.
Someday you may see a more badass action-packed movie than Atomic Blonde. But not today.