Atomic Blonde is atomic to a certain extent, not so much with the story it tries to build itself upon. The flick fills you up with extreme indifference for its character building part that runs till we almost reach the ‘half-time’. You wish for the real action to begin, as promised and sold in the trailers, but unfortunately, it is holed up in its later section. By the time you are there, you are already knackered by its punishing story-line, its unusual pace, and impoverished editing style that leaves you parched for some real thrill. But the good news is that the action bit finally arrives, and when it arrives, you realize it is outrageously dope!
David Leitch‘s latest is based on the graphic novel The Coldest City by Antony Johnston. Atomic Blonde is trying to sell itself as an action flick. Unfortunately, the number of times you see our lead protagonist Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) fighting the bad guys – Next to three or four times max! That’s it. The movie then runs nay rambles with Theron trying (no she doesn’t have to try) to look badass in her cool getup as she saunters on the roads of Berlin.
Plot of Atomic Blonde (Spoilers Ahead)
There is nothing out of the extraordinary that the plot of Atomic Blonde offers. In fact, what makes it really confusing is the whole setup, the way its stories oscillate back and forth in two different timelines. Events of the actual plot is narrated by Lorraine herself and we often come back to her every now and then for doubts and confusion raised in by an MI6 guy Eric Gray (Toby Jones) and CIA agent Emmett Kurzfeld (John Goodman). What might vex some is ‘their’ placement in the story. It is not intelligently crafted or edited as it might sound from the sound of it, and ropes in the first sign of bewilderment.
For those who might have accidentally dozed off while watching, I have decided to sum up the plot of Atomic Blonde for you. The story begins with the prologue of MI6 agent James Gasciogne (Sam Hargrave) being shot by a KGB agent Yuri Bakhtin (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson) for a list that’s on a watch. The list is the name of all active agents in the Soviet Union. So whoever has that list clearly has an upper hand in the entire Spy Industry, not to mention any moron could sell that list for an insanely huge price to whoever he thinks should stay ahead of the curve.
Lorraine Broughton, another MI6 agent is ‘brought in’ by the authorities for questioning about her Berlin mission. Her mission was to recover the list and slay a double agent Satchel who has been a constant itch in the crotch selling their secrets to the Soviets.
The story that’s been narrated is Lorraine’s story reaffirmed by Eric and Emmett as the events unfold. According to her story (the story we witness), Lorraine is set up to meet David Percival (James McAvoy) another agent already in action in Berlin. She is ambushed there by the KGB associates of hooligan Aleksander Bremovych (Roland Moller). Percival swoops in to aid her after. After visiting the dead man Gasciogne’s house, she begins to suspect Percival to be Satchel, when she is made by West German police, since he was the only guy who knew about her whereabouts. Meanwhile, she encounters Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella) a French agent who is like the Jon Snow of the movie. She knows nothing!
There is this really busy Watchmaker (Til Schweiger) who sets up meetings with agents and stuff. Bakhtin approaches him with his intentions to sell the list, but as he is making his way back he is killed by Percival who retrieves the list. Percival meets Bremovych with intentions to sell the list but is photographed in the process by Delphine. There is this Percival’s contact code-name Spyglass (Eddie Marsan) who has memorized the list and he is to be transferred along with his family across the border. Percival kills him and sends Bremovych’s man after him which Lorraine theatrically fights off in one of the most amazing fights of the entire flick. She is unable to save him though. Percival kills Delphine but ends up hunted down by Lorraine. She kills him and retrieves the list from him, although doesn’t admit so in front of authorities she was narrating the tale to.
The Ending Explained
Percival is painted as Satchel with the help of Delphine’s photographs by Lorraine and the case is closed. However, after a few days, we see a meeting being set up with Bremovych revealing Lorraine as Satchel. She doesn’t give him the real list though and before killing him admits that she had been manipulating everything right from the beginning. So right when you feel that Lorraine was always ending up getting the short end of the stick, we realize that she was, in fact, duping everybody. Okay!
On a private jet with Kurzfeld where we find him holding the watch with the list, it is revealed that she wasn’t just a double agent but, in fact, a triple agent! Whoa! That escalated pretty quickly.
The Amazing Fighting Scene in Atomic Blonde
Let’s talk about that peerless mind-boggling fighting scene in Atomic Blonde. The real talent of David Leitch as a great stuntman cum action director is revealed in that relentless breathtaking fighting sequence where Lorraine tries her level best to save Spyglass from Bremovych’s men. It is one continuous shot of an epic showdown that stops you from actually regretting to watch the movie. The sequence will make you jump on your seat. It is so good!
There is a certain rawness in that scene, where you feel the real exhilarating adrenaline rush. Walls get painted, Gore gets reworded, as Leitch moves alongside the demolished actors, shooting them nevertheless, as they literally rip each other apart piece by piece. It is hard not to applaud him for letting us achieve a theatrical action orgasm.
Watch out for that bit!
You can order Atomic Blonde from here:
The Fuming Questions
If you have watched Atomic Blonde, I know the first fuming question you must be having secretively at all times in the back of your head – “Who really cares about the list?” I know coz I didn’t really care at one point. And I often said, “Oh Cmon!” when the story didn’t ever come across a subtlety meter. While the creators decided to rotate an entire story around a watch that has the list, you can’t help but wonder why it is such an ingenious thing to do.
Why is there such a childish climax?
Just when you thought there was a good climax at the end revealing Lorraine as Satchel, in comes another one – she is a triple agent too. Paul Goodman, the good man he pretended to be, turns out he was just feigning it all, just like Lorraine trying to be super dumb in her tale, playing too dumb for a spy.
Then there is the question about being the smart one.
There is Lorraine’s unconvincing story you know. For the better part of the movie, we see Lorraine moving about the city of Berlin in shades, literally beating about the bush for her mission, falling in love with Delphine and doing really nothing to get closer to the truth. She is waiting for the truth to be delivered to her. She was failing her mission at all junctures. It makes her character really implausible to watch.
The Final Verdict
Atomic Blonde bores you in the beginning but when it tries to delve into action it becomes really exciting to watch. By the time you reach one of the most rad action scenes of all times, you realize you are thoroughly enjoying it. If it were not for its weird storyline and the indifference that it fills you up with owing to its yawning start, this movie could actually be called a good action flick.
With David Leitch’s involvement here, comparisons to John Wick are only quite natural. The good thing here is that at least Leitch worked on the story here, clearly, he didn’t do enough or maybe overdid himself au contraire to the first John Wick part. While a lot of people argued on the lines that you don’t need a story when you are trying to show just action, when the first part was shown, I would love to hear what they have to say about this movie where the action is quite frankly limited and the story building is just too much of building.
Check out the trailer of Atomic Blonde movie: