There are three things ATOMIC BLONDE isn’t. It is not a female counter part to John Wick (so don’t go in thinking it is even though it is directed by the guy that directed the first John Wick film). It isn’t the action film of the summer. And most of all, it isn’t that great of a film. In fact, of it’s two hour run time I was bored for almost half of it. And we can blame that absolutely stupid unoriginal crappy plot/MacGuffin our characters spend the entire film trying to recover. Other than the incredible acting and one really fucking good 15 minute stairway/car chase that seems like it is an uninterrupted shot, this movie isn’t atomic at all, it is more like a fizzle, a short loud spark, and then fizzles until it is no more.
I won’t give away anything, but there are two big twists in the film. The first one you can see coming from a mile away. The second one I was even shocked by, but then I starting thinking, “wait a minute, did they first start out with this twist/idea and try to build a plot around it?” I started suspecting that they did, and then wondered if the writers got writer’s block, watched the first Mission: Impossible film, suddenly “had an idea” and built a cliched, meandering, stupid plot that has been done a million times before, just to yell “GOTCHA!” at the very, very end of the movie.
This isn’t giving anything away but I am going to tell you the MacGuffin/plot of the film. Charlize Theron is a British secret agent that is hired to recover a secret list that if uncovered will reveal a lot of secret agents, their whereabouts, and code names. I can see your face twisting in a grimace right now as you read this, and exclaim, “wait a minute, you mean the fucking NOC list from Mission: Impossible?” Yes, that is correct, they basically borrowed the entire NOC list idea from M:i, and that’s what they go with the entire film. It doesn’t lead to something else which leads to something else. The entire film is trying to uncover this list all while asking yourself, “who can you trust?” And then the big twist at the end is revealed, and you realized that was the true end game all along and that they really had nothing else left to offer.
It’s sad two, because David Leitch, is a good director. The first John Wick is an incredible awesome film. He knows how to shoot fight scenes and he knows how to bring a lot of style to his films. Unfortunately, he didn’t bring any substance to this movie. Which is okay, because I blame writer Kurt Johnstad, who barely has any screenwriting credits to his name other than the terrible Act of Valor film and 300 1 and 2. And don’t get me started on 300, yes it is a cool film but we can thank Zack Snyder for the brash, cool atmosphere where as if you look deep into that screenplay, it is filled with crap dialogue and not a lot of substance either. So David Leitch is still a good choice for directing the upcoming Deadpool 2, especially because Kurt Johnstad didn’t write it.
The acting though in this is aces. Charlize Theron can act her way out of a paper back, and in this she is pretty damn cool. So is James McAvoy. They always bring their A game to every film they are in, and it shows we can trust them to deliver performance wise. This movie is not their fault either. And the action, while there isn’t all that much, is pretty good. Not gun fu, but very good choreographed action that doesn’t look too choreographed. And the stairway/car chase fifteen minute action scene is really the only reason I would maybe recommend to watch the movie just once, or at least catch the scene on You Tube when it eventually appears. It looks like one whole interrupted take, even though we movie people know all the camera tricks involved.
The music choices were good too, for a film being set in the 80s. But two great actors, one cool action scene, and music can’t save the blandness that is the rest of the film. I just didn’t care about the plot so I really didn’t care about the characters, choices, or anything else that happened in the film. I almost fell asleep a couple of times. And it’s disappointing because I was really looking forward to this movie a lot. If only they had more time on the screenplay and completely scrapped the NOC list type scenario. We could’ve had something atomic. This isn’t nuclear, TNT, or even a shoe bomb. This is a firecracker that lasts about a second.