The format of “Atomic Blonde” is familiar enough. We open in 1989 Berlin, right in the middle of the Cold War, and just barely ahead of the fall of the Wall…and smack dab on top of the premise of countless spy thrillers.
Cut to chase scene ending in a British operative being taken out. Cue the entrance of our leading lady MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron), sent into the eye of the storm to recover the list which was lost in the opening scuffle.
If you didn’t know the story was based on a graphic novel — “The Coldest City” — the way this film is shot makes it pretty clear. And there’s a particular 10-minute sequence on stairs that is brilliantly shot in a single take, and I can’t help but bow down to that kind of precision.
I realize it probably sounds like I didn’t enjoy this movie, but I assure you, I did. And I love that it’s getting great reviews, because, you know what? It’s a delightfully entertaining spy movie with a ridiculously good cast (James McAvoy, Toby Jones, Sofia Boutella, Eddie Marsan, and John Goodman who continues to prove that he fits in everywhere…it’s a gift.). It’s a fairly smart story too that has fun with the genre.
But what’s most remarkable (or at least it’s being treated as such) about this film is its leading lady. By that, I mean the fact that our lead is a lady. Yes, the spy movie is yet another genre where women rarely take center stage.
And I have to say, I’m kind of okay with that. In the summer of “Wonder Woman,” it’s nice to have another kickass lady join a mostly male-populated space, and Charlize Theron pulls it off masterfully.
Do I dream of a day where it’s not extraordinary to see a woman lead a spy thriller? Of course. (Bond. Jamie Bond.) But as we make our way there let’s enjoy the thrill of the change and the kickass women who will get us there.