A Cold War spy flick directed bystuntman-turned-filmmaker David Leitch, after cutting his teeth with JOHN WICK (2014), as both the producer and uncredited co-director, now he is currently the helmer of DEADPOOL 2.
In the tumult of Berlin Wall’s impending collapse, this retro-futuristic action-er pits MI6 spy Lorraine Broughton (Theron) against a bunch of ruthless Soviet Union KGBs and a friend-or-foe local contact David Percival (McAvoy), to seek out a leaked list which will put all the field agents in the Soviet Union in danger and also, find out who is the mole with the appellation "Satchel".
Before anything else, ATOMIC BLONDE is a Theron’s star-vehicle, the point-blank, minutely choreographed fisticuffs between her and her co-stars/stunt-performers are brutal, visceral and bluntly female-empowering, they are divested of the usual veneer of sleekness and flaunting, but revert to a primal, beastly, clumsy combat exigency which could take place between non-martial artists, but lethal killers battling with instinct. The film adds another brickbat to her throne as Hollywood’s most redoubtable ass-kicker, and that title is not inclusively confined to the distaff circle.
Berlin, brisk, forbidding and sunless under the daylight,breaths an iridescent decadence and nihilism into its nocturnal life where this convoluted triple-agent shaggy-dog tale takes its shoddy shape through Lorraine’s stiltedly obfuscating recounting in the MI6 headquarter, sadly, the screenplay fails to live up to the standard of an arresting thriller, there are over-stretched longueurs moseying between fighting sequences which barely subsist to engage audience’s attention (including Lorraine's soft-headed lesbian relationship with a French tenderfoot), thus the tantalizing of its plot wears thin quickly, however, a cracking miscellany of Synth-Pop/Electronic hits becomes the unexpected grace note to render the restive zeitgeist.
Last but not least, James McAvoy emits some coruscating élan when he is not typecast as the salt-of-the-earth sort, his morally ambiguousPercival is an effervescent foil against Theron’s prosaic inscrutability, maybe Hollywood has been using him all wrong, instead of relentlessly priming him as a matinee idol, he is much more in his wheelhouse as a chameleon-like character player, a rogue with distinctive charm.
referential points: Gareth Evans’ THE RAID: REDEMPTION (2017, 7.0/10), THE RAID 2 (2014, 7.6/10).