SXSW 2017: Atomic Blonde Review by Ashley Menzel
The co-director of John Wick has brought a new film to SXSW, Atomic Blonde. The film stars Charlize Theron as an MI-6 agent who is sent to Berlin to help recover an asset that is missing and could jeopardize every country in the world. She is tasked with working with Percival (James McAvoy) another MI-6 agent already undercover in Berlin.
The setting of the film is perhaps what makes it interesting. Being set in 1989 Berlin just before the fall of the Berlin Wall gives a unique and tense setting to the film. The gritty nature of the setting is the perfect backdrop for this type of film. The music chosen for the film works perfectly in tandem with the setting and costume design to create a very distinct atmosphere that is a ton of fun but also puts the audience on edge. It conveys a sense of disorder and disarray.
The action in the film is incredibly well done and Charlize Theron is kick ass in the lead role. I love seeing women who are in strong and in charge. Her character is a blast to watch on-screen and hopefully will usher in many more female driven action films. James McAvoy’s character, Percival falls kind of flat for me. He is supposed to portray more of a layered character but what comes across is very one note and doesn’t see much development. The only thing that seemed to change with his character was the costume. The performances are pretty good otherwise but the real problem with the film lies in the pacing.
There are plenty of really awesome, tense, and meticulously created and choreographed fight scenes that stir up the audience. The one that stood out the most was the stairwell sequence. Unfortunately, these moments become wasted when the following scenes of dialogue are both not that greatly written and are incredibly boring and drawn out. The story itself is pretty predictable. I left the film before the end credit scene and could easily tell you what happened, which should tell you the predictability level of the story.
David Leitch as a director had a great vision of what he wanted the film to look like and the atmosphere he wanted to create. The film is a visual treat with great cinematography and really impressive visuals. The opening scene is beautiful with the snow falling and created an almost surreal and otherworldly aesthetic. He continues along that theme with creating well-framed shots that are both interesting and well-crafted. I wanted to like Atomic Blonde, but it ended up being just mediocre.