“Atomic Blonde” – A twist on the traditional spy movie

Atomic Blonde Charlize TheronPrior to watching Atomic Blonde, I saw several comments claiming it was simply a “female Bond.” I disagree. I may be in the minority, but James Bond movies put me to sleep. Personally, I find that Bond movies lack a real plot. Atomic Blonde has a plot. The plot is an interesting, if strange one.

The movie features a flash-back style of telling. We see Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) in a debriefing as she tells her story to various higher ups.Debrief Atomic Blonde

Its R rating is well deserved with violence and sex featured heavily, so it is definitely not a spy movie to bring the kids to.

The Plot

The plot drives you to make many assumptions. All of those assumptions will be wrong. I quite enjoyed this, as I often am able to guess the endings of movies. I wasn’t even able to guess which scene of this movie was the real ending.

There are several spy movie tropes that permeate the movie, but I do not have a problem with them. The writers also did an excellent job of slightly twisting the trope to add something unexpected to each one.

The double agent: This one is carried throughout the entire film, only to be completely twisted around at the very end. They also add in a character who only works for himself – it is not an entirely new concept, but it definitely isn’t yet overplayed.

Lorraine Delphine Atomic BlondeThe promiscuity (warning: small spoiler here): This is where the movie is most like the James Bond movies – Mr. Bond always has a girl at his side. Lorraine Broughton? Well, she also has a girl at her side. Delphine Lasalle, played by Sofia Boutella, is very interesting. She is another spy with a knack for understanding intricacies and seeing what is actually going on. Lasalle was a man in the comic “The Coldest City,” but Kurt Johnstad, the writer, pitched to Theron changing the character to a woman, and she liked the idea. According to director David Leitch, who came on after Lasalle had been “gender bent,” it was a great idea to make the story more contemporary.

The Characters

Lorraine Broughton is incredible. One thing I often notice when watching action films is that they often choreograph unnecessary moves into the fight scenes. While this held true with Theron’s character, it was far less than what is usually included in movies. Lorraine is cold, hard, intelligent and completely indomitable.

Delphine Lasalle, my heart weeps for her. This character is too young and innocent for the world she is thrust into, but still she surprised me. She is naive and brave, and feels like a little sister. I wanted to protect her.

David Percival is a jerk. He is a self-absorbed, non-trusting, nihilistic prick. James McAvoy excelled at portraying an amazing character but awful person. However, he is not pushy which is a greatly appreciated characteristic coming from a man. It is common to portray men as if they can’t take no for an answer, so seeing a character who can is quite refreshing.David Percival Atomic Blonde

The higher ups of the MI6 are the perfect examples of the bosses no one wants. They have no initiative or chutzpah. They don’t stick to their promises. They are exactly what you expect of government cronies.

Spyglass, played by Eddie Marsan, is an interesting character. It is not abundantly clear who he is or why he interacts with the other characters in the way that he does. This is one of the largest shortcomings of the film. I want to know more about him and his history. That being said, his character is evident from small moments and it is a beautiful one. He is caring and sweet and, like Delphine, too seemingly innocent for what he is caught up in. He also surprised me a couple times.

The Stereotyping

This movie defied many stereotypes. A man never saves Lorraine. The sex scenes are not obviously geared towards men. Lorraine and Delphine’s relationship is not played off as an experiment or fling that doesn’t mean anything. However, the French are still portrayed as a bit of a joke.

While Delphine is a good character, she is still the worst of the spies. She is made quickly and is made out to be weaker than those around her. The whole joke about “the French always lose” is old and tired. Honestly, I am not sure the inclusion of this trope was intentional. Anytime a non-French film includes French characters they are obviously “lesser,” so there is a fair chance it is just habit now. That doesn’t mean it is right though, it is time to break this habit.

Bomb or Fizzle:

Overall, I enjoyed Atomic Blonde. It was engaging and had great characters. I love being surprised by the endings of movies. While there were a few improvements that could have been made, it was a good movie. The occurrences were a little tricky to decipher at times, but the intentional plot twists make up for it.

If you enjoy action and suspense, and can handle some gory and raunchy scenes, I would recommend you see it.

Movie times: click here

Genre:  Mystery, Thriller

Director:  David Leitch

Actors: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Sofia Boutella

Running Time: 1 hours 55 minutes

Rating:  Rated R for violence and scenes of a sexual nature

 

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Taylor is a 2015 Coronado High School graduate and now a senior at The University of Texas at Tyler getting her Bachelor's in Mass Communications with a focus in Multimedia Journalism. She is also minoring in Graphic Design and Spanish. After graduating college she will return to San Diego. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: manager@coronadotimes.com