David Leitch’s Atomic Blonde: Spy vs Counterspy Never Looked So Good

Atomic Blonde almost has it all, says reviewer Dennis D. McDonald. Here’s what it’s missing.

dennis d. mcdonald alien

aNewDomain — There’s much to like about this movie. In Atomic Blonde, you’ve got Charlize Theron, some serious late-1980s pop culture and all manner of wonderfully choreographed action scenes.

Based on Oni Press’ graphic novel series, “The Coldest City,” the story follows a Cold War-era undercover MI6 agent (Theron), who is sent to Berlin to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents.

The overall look of the film is unique. Color and lighting shift constantly from bright and garish to cold and frigid; Jonathan Sela’s cinematography is exceptional. Sela also directed photography on tjJohn Wicktk.

It’s also nice to see a Eurocentric film built around the time the Berlin Wall fell. We have a token oafish American — a CIA chief played by John Goodman — but the director wisely eschews standard-issue anti-Americanism.

If there’s a catch, it’s that the story is a mix of spy vs. counterspy clichés. These clichés almost had me asleep during the first third of the movie but, once things get going, they really get going.

And the seven-minute staircase fight, in my opinion, is one of the great movie fight scenes ever filmed.

Atomic Blonde, when all is said and done, totally revolves around Theron’s master spy. She lends an icy credibility to her character and her character’s actions that raise the level of this movie way beyond its Cold War roots.

I recommend this movie.

For aNewDomain,  I’m Dennis D. McDonald.

An earlier version of this story ran on Dennis D. McDonald’s DDMDC site. Read it here .