If Charlize Theron‘s current goal is to firmly establish herself in the action movie pantheon, she’s doing one helluva job. She was already there thanks to her work in Mad Max: Fury Road (and playing a villain in The Fate of the Furious certainly helps), but there’s probably no faster way to action immortality than teaming up with one of the co-directors of John Wick.
Enter Atomic Blonde, the new film from David Leitch, which finds Theron playing a spy sent on a deadly mission to Berlin during the Cold War, where she has to, you know, kill everyone.
I saw Atomic Blonde at its world premiere at SXSW and I had a great time with it. This is the kind of action movie that values style over substance, but the style is so slick and so entertaining and pulled off with such bravura by the cast and crew that it’s hard to complain. Even when the film gets bogged down in its plotting, you know that there’s another bone-splitting action scene right around the corner. And until the bullets and fists start flying, you can just enjoy Theron glowering as she changes into outfit after outfit, usually with a mood-setting ’80s song blasting on the soundtrack.
The centerpiece of Atomic Blonde, the moment that everyone will be talking about when the movie hits theaters, is a lengthy fight scene set in an apartment building where Theron battles a group of assassins to the death. As I wrote in my review, it’s unlike any action scene I’ve ever seen:
This is especially evident in the film’s best scene: a ten-minute long fight through an apartment building (stitched together to look like a single shot) where Lorraine battles a team of Russian agents. It’s a tremendous fight scene because it’s staged with so brilliantly and shot so audaciously, but it becomes remarkable because it acknowledges just how hard fighting someone to death must be. By the final stretch of this real-time brawl, Theron and her opponents are noticeably battered, panting, unsteady on their feet, and frequently backing away from each other to catch their breath and summon a second (and third and fourth and fifth) wind. It’s the alley fight from They Live, the street fight from that infamous Deadwood episode and any scene from The Raid were all combined into one of the most impressive action scenes…of the past decade? Hyperbole may be earned here.
Atomic Blonde is set to open on July 28, 2017.
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