I don’t know if it was all the hype, but I walked away from Atomic Blonde somewhat disappointed. The unofficial synopsis/description of being the “female John Wick and Taken combo” raised my intrigue, let there be no doubt. I love Charlize Theron and her ability to just be a total bad-ass (see her in Mad Max: Fury Road…DO IT) is absolutely riveting…but with that being said…Atomic Blonde was just missing something.

The story flip-flops between Lorraine Broughton’s, played by Theron, debriefing with MI6 and beating down a trail of lies in divided 1980s Berlin. A cold war setting in the height of social discourse and political distrust is a heck of a backdrop…but again, the film is just missing something.

Broughton weaves her way through deceit, mistrust, double-crossings and incredibly under qualified baddies with a flair that does shine through. When Theron puts on her “I am gonna beat your butt” face, I am all-aboard. The Atomic Blonde train hits its top speed over the final 30 minutes, and that last rush of acceleration does raise it above the Mendoza line of action-espionage flicks.

David Leitch directed the entirety of Atomic Blonde after taking the helm of some scenes during the ABSOLUTE MUST SEE John Wick. You can tell he has a feel for the action having been a stuntman and coordinator in a past Hollywood life. When the action gets rolling in this, his latest endeavor, you can’t help but get engrossed in the fluidity of the exploits.

Atomic Blonde’s weakest points sometimes come from its desire to be fast and unpredictable. The plot sometimes shoots forward like a sprinter bursting out of the starting block. If Leitch sometimes took the 200-meter dash approach compared to a 100-meter or even 50-meter outlook, the plot would click better (though it doesn’t click poorly to begin with), the characters could shine brighter (allow more James McAvoy eccentricity), and the final twist would have resonated that much more profoundly.

I do not think that Atomic Blonde is a bad movie. Despite my pessimistic tone, I recommend that people watch it. Theron is sexy, scary and intense in all the right ways. The setting is truly engrossing and the story is for sure intriguing. I can just picture the movie being even more.

Maybe my expectations were raised too high to watch it with objective naivety. I wish I had the time to see this when it first came out before the social discussion took place.

Stanko Rating: B-

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