There is something extremely sexy about a woman that can handle herself in a fight. When that woman is Charlize Theron, she brings style and depth to the role. Bruised from head to toe in a bathtub full of ice cubes, you just know she’s been put through the wringer. ‘Atomic Blonde’ is helmed by David Leitch who directed ‘John Wick.’ The fight scenes are brutal but beautifully choreographed to a pulsating new wave soundtrack including New Order’s “Blue Monday,” Nena’s “99 Luftballons,” David Bowie’s “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)” and Depeche Mode’s “Behind the Wheel.” The film is set during the Cold War days before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The time period gives this spy thriller a moody and gritty feel. It’s Theron’s electrifying performance that makes it one of the best action movies of the year.
MI6 secret agent Lorraine Broughton is tasked to go to Berlin to retrieve a list of agents. Her bosses and CIA liaison Emmett Kurzfeld (John Goodman) warn her if the list gets into enemy hands it will be disastrous to the British and US intelligence community. There is a mole, code name Satchel that Lorraine must expose as a double agent. ‘Atomic Blonde’ is told in clever flashbacks. During a debriefing, she recounts the mission that goes terribly wrong. With bruises still visible on her pretty face, she lights a cigarette before taking the audience into her dangerous world. Theron’s performance is remarkable. She gets the award for the coolest persona on screen this year. You cannot take your eyes off of her. As she takes her ice baths and gulps a Stoli on the rocks, the blue colors represent her cold exterior. Later in the film, when she has a steamy tryst with French agent Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella) the color red signifies her passionate side.
After she lands in Berlin, she partners with fellow agent David Percival (James McAvoy) to rescue an informant known as Spyglass (Eddie Marsan) before Russian adversaries get to him first. There are double agents, betrayals and plot twists that keep Lorraine distrustful of everyone including loose cannon Percival. The fight scenes are impressive. The hand-to-hand combat is intense as Lorraine eliminates one threat after another. She is always dress to kill and even uses her red high-heeled shoe as a weapon. There is a gritty action sequence on a stairwell where Lorraine uses whatever is available to strike back at her assailants. The fights are violent as our heroine overcomes a barrage of death-defying situations. Theron already proved her grit in the Academy Award-winning film ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ but ‘Atomic Blonde’ firmly puts her on a pedestal as a bonafide action goddess.
The vague plot is excusable since the action sequences are so brilliantly crafted. There are no special effects or stunt women used during the filming of the fight scenes. That’s actually Theron throwing and taking a punch. Did you know that she broke a tooth during filming? The hand held camera work gracefully swoops and follows her as she beats up a network of Russian baddies. Cinematographer Jonathan Sela lights Theron’s character in pink neon and blues that reflect the nostalgic colors of the ‘80s time period. Many of the synth pop tunes from the exceptional soundtrack compliment the bone-crunching action. In between fight scenes, the retro ‘80s fashion captures the stylish decade perfectly. The character of Lorraine personifies all the qualities that make Theron so exciting to watch on screen. She is tough, sexy and cool that reveals just enough vulnerability to make audiences feel empathy toward her.
If you ever wanted to see a female 007 in the flesh, Theron’s Lorraine Broughton is the real deal. She is actually cooler and more stylish than Bond himself. Not only is she dressed to the nines in every scene but the fantastic ‘80s soundtrack compliments the major ass kicking she gives her adversaries. It is difficult not to enjoy a female action hero that completely owns her opponents. With the success of Gal Gadot as ‘Wonder Woman,’ it is clear that audiences are ready for a heroine like Charlize Theron’s stylish super spy in ‘Atomic Blonde.’