Can a woman step into James Bond's shoes? Duh, says Charlize Theron as she performs the cold-as-ice secret agent shtick backwards, and in red patent-leather stilettos, in the engaging spy-vs-spy thriller Atomic Blonde.
You don't go to operas for dancing or ballets for singing, and you don't see Atomic Blonde for anything but a badass female protagonist crunching bones and pulping faces in gratifyingly long takes or remarkable simulations thereof.
Perhaps it's not surprising that [Leitch] winds up with something that feels like a tough-minded drama rejiggered into a hard-bodied action-adventure. But it is a bit disappointing. Still, there are consolations.
Atomic Blonde is bold, brazen and frequently bonkers. But it's also killer.
The way it detonates off the screen makes the film live up to its name. It's atomic, and it's a blast.
Theron makes one hell of a superspy, and it's high time she got her "John Wick" moment.
While it's still an enjoyable novelty to spend time during an action movie wondering where I could buy the hero's boots, it's no substitute for a good story.
Atomic Blonde may be high in empty calories, but craftsmanship of this level is rare and exhilarating, and worth surviving some muddled plotting to appreciate.
Atomic Blonde is the proverbial stained-glass window, only made of very bright and unsubtle neon. Unhindered by other pretensions, however, it marks a brilliant new phase in Theron's career.