If, like me, your first thought on seeing the Atomic Blonde trailer was a string of exclamations alone the lines of “YAS,” “DAMN,” and “ON BOARD,” I have great news. Atomic Blonde is everything we dreamed it would be. And more.
Atomic Blonde takes us back to 1989 and the final days before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Clandestine agents abound on both sides of the wall. And a recent death at the hands of the KGB has a list of all their identities out in the wider world just waiting for a buyer. Enter Lorraine Broughton, elite MI-6 agent. She’s sent in to find the list and told to trust no one. Not even the MI-6 Station Chief she’s meant to be working with, David Percival (James McAvoy). Percival knows Berlin better than anyone, but, it’s said, he’s gone a bit native.
No matter, Lorraine can take care of herself. And that she does. From almost the moment she touches town she is best on all sides by enemies — and would-be lovers. And we the viewers? We’re there to watch the Atomic Blonde explode.
Atomic Blonde is a two-hour exercise in watching Charlize Theron do her most vicious version of a relentless badass. And that on its own would be quite enough. But, it’s also a stylish picture with the kind of clever plot that earns the gratuitous action. The cat-and-mouse games are afoot between every single one of our players and Lorraine is at the center of it all, resolutely scrapping with everything from her red heels to hot plates.
If I expected Theron to be incredible and the movie to be a lot of fun as a result, I had no idea about one of its greatest strengths. A killer soundtrack. The synth and otherworldliness of the 80s pop that reverberates off the screen is the perfect punctuation to the thudding sounds of flesh on flesh and the whizzing pew pew of silenced bullets. Pair Atomic Blonde with Baby Driver and you have the perfect high adrenaline double feature, with substance to boot.
Atomic Blonde is the summer blockbuster we deserve, it may not recreate the tear-jerking warm tinglies that moments of Wonder Woman afforded us. But, you’ll still leave with your YAS QUEEN tank fully topped off — and a surprising desire to revisit some 80s fashion.