After the success of R-rated movies like Deadpool and John Wick, there’s definitely been a shift in Hollywood to the more violent, adult-orientated, action flicks of the Eighties – just with a stylised modern day gravitas added to them.
David Leitch, the co-director of the aforementioned highly-acclaimed Wick, attempts to do for Charlize Theron what he did for Keanu Reeves in this 1989 end of Cold War-set action-thriller that kicks ass to the backdrop of Eighties hits such as Nena’s 99 Luftballoons and the David Bowie/Queen collaboration Under Pressure.
But despite boasting some stand-out action sequences – albeit borrowing heavily from the John Wick playbook – and some charismatic performances from the leading players, its enigmatic exterior is dampened by an interior that features convoluted plotting and a surprisingly bland script.
Theron’s MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton – the crown jewel of Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service – is the heroine of the piece, sent to Berlin just before the collapse of the legendary wall, to investigate the death of Sam Hargrave’s fellow agent (and former lover), who was trying to locate a watch which contains sensitive data of the world’s top security agencies, that could just extend the Cold War for decades.
She partners with James McAvoy’s shady operative David Percival, and through several twists and turns crosses paths with Eddie Marsan’s (Sherlock Holmes) Stasi defector Spyglass, Sofia Boutella’s (The Mummy) French agent, Til Schweiger’s (Inglorious Basterds) mysterious watchmaker, Bill Skarsgard’s (Allegiant) mission assistant, Toby Jones’ (Dad’s Army) MI6 chief, and John Goodman’s CIA head honcho.
And while the action makes Theron’s Blonde – based on the graphic novel The Coldest City – more than watchable fare, it’s almost too clever for its own good, with her Berlin playground ending up being intermittently dour, much like the tepid script.
Sadly, McAvoy is also in danger of becoming stereotyped, with another zany alcohol and fag-fuelled role that plays a bit too closely to a plethora of his recent performances – see Trance, Filth, Split and Wanted for reference.
But for all its wannabe intentions, Atomic does what it says on the tin and should satisfy most cinema-goers looking for a stylish actioner – but it just isn’t quite as explosive as it thinks it is.
Rating: 3/5 Gavin Miller