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‘Atomic Blonde’—nothing you haven’t seen before

T. A. Moreland | 8/3/2017, 11:21 a.m.
A British undercover agent is murdered in East Berlin.

A British undercover agent is murdered in East Berlin. But to Western governments, it’s not the spy’s life that matters but the secret files embedded in his watch, recovered by his killer, which puts their nations at risk. British Intelligence agency MI6 sends in Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) to recover the lost timepiece.

If the film’s entertainment value was placed on one scale and its filmmaking flaws placed on a counter-balancing scale, they would be equal to each other.

On one hand, Broughton’s goals are clear: find the watch and locate a traitor among the spy network she encounters in Germany. There’s violence in epic proportions, and the movie advances the notion that women can play the lead in an action film.

But on the other hand, the title of the film, “Atomic Blonde,” sounds like the name of a cartoon character. And this movie is so formulaic: one spy investigating the death of another and locating lost and invaluable secret files. Then there’s the constant guessing game of who can she trust among the various contacts and intermediaries involved. However, I give a nod to the screenwriters; although spies in passionate lovemaking screens are run-of-the-mill, “Atomic Blonde” gives that practice a new twist with the two participants being women.

There are Hollywood’s usual stretches of credibility, such as a female undercover agent who is already very tall but then decides the best way to blend in and be inconspicuous is to be a platinum blond. And if these characters really received this many crushing blows to the head from their numerous fist fights, they’d be nuttier than a veteran NFL running back.

For the first time ever, a film gets an “F” in cast diversity. The film is set in Eastern Berlin in the late ’80s. There is not a person of color to be found in this film. None of the stars. None of the individuals in background scenes.

The verdict for “Atomic Blonde” is don’t rush to see this movie. Enjoy summer activities instead. And if you get a chance, Rent It, sometime in the future.

“Atomic Blonde” is rated R for sequences of strong violence, language throughout and some sexuality/nudity. It is 115 minutes, which could have been edited down to 100 minutes.