Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Atomic Blonde

(USA, Germany, 2017)

I was in the mood for an action movie, and this one got off to a fairly good start … but then I just couldn’t take it. The level of cool was relentless and increasingly silly. Sure, I know this takes place in that James Bond fantasy world where spies are glamorous. I don’t need all my spy fiction to be like John Le Carre, where the espionage trade is revealed as what it actually is: the filthiest, nastiest, drabbest, most faithless, unprincipled, contemptible job in the world. I’d rather clean out septic tanks with my tongue than be a spy.

But here, instead of Bond, James Bond’s elegant suits, Charlize Theron wears a different outfit in every scene. This is supposed to be 1989, a few days before the Berlin Wall finally came tumbling down. I’d guess the clothes were by folks like Dior, Versace, Pucci and Gucci. Not exactly designed for hand-to-hand combat, but our girl does just fine against a dozen Stasi soldiers in the close quarters of an apartment.

I said this movie was cool, ultra-cool. So cool you might get a brain freeze. Theron bathes in ice water, that’s how cool she is. She looks tragically hip, totally bored with whatever is going on. So does everyone else. They don’t look at each other, they don’t look up when someone comes into the room. That would be so un-cool. As to what’s going on … some sort of hugger-mugger with a stolen list of double agents. I never quite knew which one was which, and why I should care. And I did not care. Not a whit. If any of these characters were to be run over by a steam roller I would yawn. The whole movie is as glossy as the celluloid it was probably not shot on (digital recording being the standard these days), and just about as deep.

I say the whole movie, but I can actually only speak about the first hour. That’s when Lee and I agreed that we were bored, and shut it down. We had just finished a sex scene between Theron and another female agent dressed (then undressed) to kill. And I don’t object in the slightest to lesbian sex, but I just didn’t believe it, you see. It was clearly thrown into the script so the writer-director, a former stunt man named David Leitch (any relation to Donovan?) could show just how cool and uninvolved a sex scene could be. Total rubbish, this film, a total waste.