Atomic Blonde

Charlize Theron helms an impressive cast, including James McAvoy, in action-packed spy thriller  "Atomic Blonde"

Courtesy Photo

Movie lovers have always appreciated Charlize Theron’s willingness to take on the most challenging of acting roles. Those leading parts that push the beautiful actress well beyond her comfort zone and into shocking film territory. 

No one will soon forget her captivating and jaw-dropping Academy Award-winning performance in the grisly narrative, “Monster” (2003) playing a serial killer. Now the actress, named by Time in 2016 as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the world, steps up her game in an action-packed thriller that continues to test Theron on-camera--both emotionally and physically.

As one of Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service agents, Theron plays a British spy who must quickly identify friend from foe from within the MI6 organization, as well as other foreign nationals in 1986 Berlin. Everyone, including Theron’s Lorraine Broughton character, attempts to gain control of an invaluable list of undercover agents that has fallen into the wrong hands.  

David Leitch, who co-directed (uncredited) 2014’s wildly successful “John Wick” movie, takes the helm of “Atomic Blonde” in his first feature-length film as sole director. Fans of the former stunt coordinator and Brad Pitt stunt double will applaud Leitch’s drawn out fight scenes in “Atomic Blonde”. Leitch’s penchant for long, brutal beat downs between Theron and her enemies nicely captures the formidable leading lady exhausted after each challenge - with compounding wounds to prove it.

Theron’s charming and smart “Atomic Blonde” spy character draws immediate comparison to another British MI6 big-screen star: Bond, James Bond. With her own trust issues, a willingness to bed attractive female foreign nationals, and rapid-fire hand-to-hand combat skills to boot, Theron’s ready right now to be crowned the next 007.

“Atomic Blonde” succeeds with a two-punch delivery consisting of timely action sequences and a soundtrack dating back to chart-topping hits from the 1980s. A few slower moments in the storyline quickly get jump-started using several significant plot twists to keep viewers guessing until the final scene.

Between the various accents and foreign government power grabs, rests a powerful and bloodied performance (once again) from the versatile Theron. James McAvoy, whose multiple personalities earlier this year in “Split” caused audiences to collectively wince, conveniently rides shotgun to Theron in this spy story. But it’s the great John Goodman, who once again shines bright in a lesser role that brings out the best in “Atomic Blonde”. 

Grade: B-

(Patrick King is a resident of Tucson and writer for the REEL BRIEF movie blog at  You may email him at

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