Atomic Blonde
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Atomic Blonde

Atomic Blonde feels like a punch in the gut. And not just because of the incessant, graphic violence.

Charlize Theron is fine as Lorraine Broughton, a top level MI6 spy brought in to Berlin just as the wall is about to come down. Based on a graphic novel, Broughton is as sleek, ruthless and relentless as they come. Sprinting in stilettos, this spy knows how to take as well as land a punch. And a shot. And a slash. And a puncture. She’s an Eveready Bunny of superspies. And, as we see from the initially snappy, but way too long series of fights, our girl’s got, you know, stamina. And, oh boy, can she rock a super slouchy sweater atop those thigh high boots.

All of this would be pretty great, a confident female super hero, plowing her way on smarts and strength. But director David Leitch and Kurt Johnstad sell her as short as her hemlines, leaving Broughton as icily self-involved as they come, never giving her even a moment where we can fall just a little bit in love with her.

And yes, speaking of love, or something, there is a balletic lesbian sex scene in the film that was not in the original book. So, why is it there? While some of us may think “hey, that’s cool” as the scene, like so many others, drags on, emotionless, we may begin to wonder otherwise. Did someone, at some stage of development, have the guts to admit this was a gimmie, a nod to some in the audience who needed the titillation? Not to worry, though, we are told early on our Lorraine also does men. Wouldn’t want any ticket buyer to think she’s actually well, one of “them”.

Happily, there have been actresses who’ve brought complex, ballsy action heroines to the screen before. Theron was one of them, with a great turn in Mad Max: Fury Road. But the lurid, incomprehensible and steely attitude here keeps us far from the joys of Bond and the emotional beauty of Wonder Woman. Just when we really could use all the heroes we can get.

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