Atomic Blonde directed by David leitch, one of the co-directors of the marvellous sleeper sensation John Wick is one film I had high hopes for. It looked fantastic with its retro inspired late 80´s look and soundtrack. Like a Luc Besson film of the 80´s. It still does. But a missed opportunity was squandered here I think. It could have been a wonderful movie with the level of worldbuilding of John Wick but set in East Berlin at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
John Le Carré, a british writer of Cold War spy novels did that. Created all these mysterious organizations and shadowy characters that was and still is so compelling. Spy stories invite to world building I think thanks to the levels of intricacies involved.
But what we are left with is a fairly superficial nonsensical spy nonsensical film, that tries to blend genres, but perhaps it was the two genres that never should be melded. The action film and the spy drama.
Action films are propulsive by nature, moving forward, creating momentum. Spy stories are reflective with its elliptic narratives, quite the contrary to action films. And this film is an example of how bad they mixed.
I once tried to mix red and white wine in the same glass. A hopeless effort and stupid endeavour. They were never going to match.
So, what is the story?
Well, an East German defector with a list of spies needs to get across the border. And Atomic Blonde ( I can´t remember her real name) played by Charlize Theron is tasked by the British Intelligence to get the list back and the defector.
That is basically the story, but it is hidden by pointless elliptic flashbacks told through an interrogation after the events and ends with an even more pointless twist. Spy stories usually have unexpected turns, but I found this one ill fitted.
But what do we have, if we can´t rely on a solid story? Well, we have a soundtrack that at least deviates a lot from the usual nostalgic 80´s back catalogue, because a lot of these songs are German which frames the story very nicely. We also have the usual blue lighting commonly associated with late 80´s action films.
Since it´s a film directed by the co-director of John Wick, it is sprinkled with dynamic fight sequences throughout. I say, sprinkled, because unlike John Wick, this is not a very focused movie. John Wick- the character was a dynamic character with propulsion which fitted the narrative nicely. And the fights functioned well with the rest of the movie.
There is nothing wrong with the choreography here. In fact they are a highlight of a rather superficial effort. But Theron's character requires a rather more dynamic plot to suit her own dynamic presence.
In the end, we have a slight action film, with little to recommend it outside the phenomenal fight scenes. Charlize Thereon proves she can kick ass, but needs a vehicle to provide her so she can stomp the pedal and really go all in.