Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Atomic Blonde

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

Action films have had somewhat of a renaissance lately. From John Wick to Mad Max: Fury Road, action films have become increasingly great.

And Atomic Blonde is definitely one of those films. Following along the lines of those aforementioned action films, this film has perfectly mixed style & substance unlike most other action films, which prioritize the former rather than the latter.

Based off of the 2012 graphic novel The Coldest City by Antony Johnson & Sam Hart & set in 1989 Berlin, the film focuses on Lorraine Broughton (played by Charlize Theron), a top MI6 agent. After fellow MI6 agent James Gascoigne (played by Sam Hargrave) is murdered by KGB agent Yuri Bakhtin (played by Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannsson), MI6 superior Eric Gray (played by Toby Jones) sends Lorraine into Berlin to retrieve The List, a list of all active field agents in the Soviet Union, which Bakhtin is in possession of, & she must also assassinate "Satchel," a double agent who betrayed Gascoigne & sold secrets to the Soviet Union.

Once she arrives in Berlin, she is met by David Percival (played by James McAvoy), a fellow MI6 agent & Lorraine's main contact. Lorraine finds out that the List is now in possession of Spyglass (played by Eddie Marsan), a Stasi agent who has also memorized the entire List.

Lorraine also meets Delphine Lasalle (played by Sofia Boutella), a naive French agent, & they eventually begin an affair. Also, she meets Emmett Kurtzfeld (played by John Goodman), a CIA agent. As this happens, Lorraine begins to become suspicious of Percival, believing he may be Satchel. But that is just the tip of the iceberg.

The cast is excellent. Charlize Theron is excellent again. At first, I noticed her American accent kept lapsing into her fake British accent (which she does an excellent job of perfecting it), but I eventually forgave it. James McAvoy, John Goodman, Sofia Boutella & Toby Jones also give great performances. Eddie Marsan's performance is the best of the film. Marsan, who I consider to be one of the most underrated British actors, perfects an East German accent & shows so much emotion just with his body language, especially as his character tries to defect from East Germany.

David Leitch's direction is excellent. As I mentioned before, the film perfectly mixes style & substance. And his control of the action sequences is masterful.

Kurt Johnstad's screenplay is brilliant. It's filled with so many twists & turns that I was practically glued to my seat. And the characters he has adapted are so bad-ass. He has perfectly adapted this film from the graphic novel.

Jonathan Sela's cinematography is absolutely stunning. Like many action films lately, the film has a few long-take sequences. And one particular long-take scene, clocking in at 10 minutes long, is probably one of the best action sequences of all time. And that scene, like many others in the film, is perfectly photographed by Sela.

The editing by Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir is amazing. Unlike many action films lately, which poorly use a frenetic & quick style of editing, this film doesn't do that, instead letting the shots go on for long enough, especially the 10-minute long take. The film is perfectly paced & assembled by Ronaldsdóttir.

Tyler Bates's score is excellent. The usage of a synthesizer in the score is put to absolute perfection & it amplifies the cinematic experience.

And the soundtrack is killer. The soundtrack uses a lot of excellent new wave music from the 1980's, including Blue Monday by New Order & 99 Luftballons by Nena. This is probably one of the 3 best soundtracks of the year.

This is one of the best action films of the decade so far. The action sequences are some of the best in recent memory, & having an excellent actress like Charlize Theron at the center of the film helps astronomically.

Atomic Blonde was seen by me at the MJR Marketplace Digital Cinema 20 on Saturday, July 29, 2017. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 115 minutes, & it is rated R for sequences of strong violence, language throughout, & some sexuality/nudity.


  1. Hi, so I just saw Atomic Blonde and you really can't let your focus slip for one secons or you lose the thread of the complicated plot immediately. However after reading some plot explanantions (thank God i wasnt the only one with questions) i i understand everything, but for one thing: why did Lorraine, aka Satchel, betray Gascoine to the Russians, knowing he list, that she had to retreive for the CIA would end up in Russian hands this way? I hope you can help!

    1. Sadly, I can't help with that question. That's a question that's bugged me a bit since I saw the film.