've spent the last month or two rewatching every single Bond movie ever made. There are three things Bond does in every one of his movies: 1) He fights bad guys. 2) He drinks a martini because he's a fancy dandy and 3) he very aggressively finds someone to have sex with until he gets what he wants, then he bounces and finds the "Main Bond Girl," and then the original girl is murdered horribly for her connection to Bond. I mean, shit, the girl in "Moonraker" gets torn apart by dogs for helping Bond. He rapes Pussy Galore and she becomes a good guy afterward.
My point is, screw James Bond, Ian Fleming and the time in history when all that was OK. "Atomic Blonde" deconstructs that sexist, misogynistic series of movies (even Daniel Craig creeps up on a sex slave in a shower) and creates a female spy that fights like "John Wick," drinks like Lucille Bluth and bangs whoever the hell she wants to...unapologetically.
The convoluted plot has Charlize Theron's MI6 agent, Lorraine Broughton, heading to Berlin in order to find the list: a piece of microfilm hidden in a watch that has the names of all the spies in the Soviet Union. This is also the plot of "Skyfall." Like, exactly. Broughton teams up with David Percival, a batshit crazy British agent who's been in Berlin for a decade and has basically gone feral. Played by a perfectly cast James McAvoy, Percival is such an enigma that as the film veers into double crosses, triple crosses and several giant twists, all you can do is admire the charisma on display and smile.
Not everything is that great. The pacing is scattershot, at best, with the film bouncing between bone crunching and perfectly choreographed fight scenes to long, drawn-out monologues of exposition. There's really a lot of plot for a movie that didn't need it. Director David Leitch is one half of the team that made "John Wick," (the other half, Chad Stahelski, stayed with the franchise and made "John Wick 2") so he knows something about burying the audience in plot.
he other thing that drove me nuts about "Atomic Blonde" is the music. The film takes place in 1989, right before the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Every single needle drop throughout the entire film is just as predictable as you're imagining. An action scene set to "99 Luftballoons," the finale to "Under Pressure," a car chase to "I Ran (so Far Away) and "London Calling" over the closing credits. Every one of these choices is so obvious and has been used in a period film in the exact same way before. How about a car chase to "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman or a slow motion gun fight to Madonna's "Like a Prayer?"
"Atomic Blonde" is fun and goofy, but takes itself very seriously. The tone is more similar to the "Bourne" films than I was expecting, and also about 30 minutes too long, but it doesn't really matter because Theron is a force of nature. You can't take your eyes off her and she deserves to get a "John Wick-esque" franchise out of this. Bond is a dinosaur and "Atomic Blonde" the meteor that should smash him to dust.
Dir. David Leitch
Old Mill Stadium 16 & IMAX, Sisters Movie House, Redmond Cinema