Film Review: “Atomic Blonde”

Starring: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy and John Goodman
Directed By: David Leitch
Rated: R
Running Time: 115 minutes
Focus Features

David Leitch’s first solo directed movie comes after the success of his work on the “John Wick” franchise. While a lot of the “Wick” DNA is on display in many of its action sequences, “Atomic Blonde” suffers from a choppy narrative and lack of character intrigue outside of its two leads.

MI6 agent Lorraine (Theron) is first seen, covered in bruises and burning the memories of a former ally. She walks into a soundproof room to give her recorded recollection of her undercover week leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. She recounts her tale of infiltrating East Berlin, in search of an allusive watch containing information on every agent deployed during the Cold War. Failing to retrieve that token, may result in another 40 years of nuclear arms muscle flex by the U.S. and Soviet Union.

The premise is alluring as Theron’s character radiates macho gusto and calm precision. She speaks in short, biting simplistic sentences and delivers angered quips under her breath. She’s matched by a Berlin ally, David (McAvoy), who’s underground smuggling and cocky smirk covers his secretive intentions. The two, while relatively friendly, aren’t about to become buddies as they spy and record each other. “Atomic Blonde” should be an interesting blend of spy-thriller and action-survival, but is bogged down by its jumbly plot.

There’s plenty of exposition to munch on, but nothing clear or meaningful. There are dozens of characters brought in and out of the woodwork to offer their allegiances and services, but none bring a unique personality or influence to the script. The exquisite opening for “Atomic Blonde” quickly sinks into uninvolving plot progression that feels like an assigned household chore before the film’s real goodies, the action sequences.

Hand-to-hand combat is filmed tightly, but fully in frame to put the viewer right in the middle of fists, kicks, groans and gunshots. They’re some of the film’s most inspired moments, but they’re shoehorned in towards the end and sparse. The sagging middle cuts between uninteresting character interactions and posturing that only pays off in the final 10 minutes of the movie. It makes the entire storyline a lot clearer; however the bad taste of wasted talent meandering aimlessly doesn’t leave your mouth.

This graphic novel adaptation displays an attractive visual flair along with an 80’s best-of soundtrack that keeps your eyes from wandering to far from the screen although there’s no substance beneath its neon portrait. Despite her best efforts, Theron (who also helped produce the movie) can only carry the film so far. Her mix of femme fatale and impenetrable action star is humbled by a late emotional reveal towards the end, that’s more impactful than it should be. Her recent run of action films, like “Mad Max” and “Fate of the Furious” are commendable. But “Atomic Blonde” is more bark than bite.

MediaMikes 2017 Summer Movie Preview

Summertime, summertime, sum, sum, summertime. Yes indeed, time for school to end and the non-stop days of fun to begin. Unless you have a full time job, like all of us at MediaMikes do. Then it’s just time to find a few hours a week to watch something good. And there appears to be plenty of good for everyone from now until school starts again. “Summer” has gotten off to a big start, with “Fate of the Furious” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2” already kicking serious box office ass. But not to worry, there are plenty more movies to see.

Once again, some synopsis information courtesy of our friends at the Internet Movie Data Base and, please remember, opening dates are subject to change at the whim of the studios.

MAY 26

“Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”

Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and, I swear to God, Paul McCartney
Directed by: Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg
Synopsis: Captain Jack Sparrow is back and this time he’s searching for the trident of Poseidon. Looks much better then the last installment. I interviewed the directors a couple years ago and they seemed to have an enthusiasm for the project that had been lost.


Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron and Alexandra Daddario
Directed by: Seth Gordon
Synopsis: Lifeguard Mitch Buchanan and his team uncover a criminal plot that threatens the future of the Bay. Go for Zac Efron’s abs, stay for, I hope I hope, a sweet David Hasselhoff cameo.

“War Machine”

Starring: Brad Pitt, Ben Kingsley and Anthony Michael Hall
Directed by: David Michod
Synopsis: A no-holds-barred look at the career of US Army General Glen McMahon. Ooo-rah!

“Berlin Syndrome”

Starring: Teresa Palmer and Max Riemelt
Directed by: Cate Shortland
Synopsis: A passionate holiday romance leads to an obsessive relationship when an Australian photojournalist wakes one morning in a Berlin apartment and is unable to leave. I’ve been to Berlin. The apartments were THAT amazing.


“Wonder Woman”

Starring: Gal Gadot, Robin Wright and Chris Pine
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Synopsis: The best part of “Batman vs Superman” gets her own origin film. Fingers crossed for a Lynda Carter cameo.


“The Mummy”

Starring: Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe and Courtney B. Vance
Directed by: Alex Kurtzman
Synopsis: An ancient princess is awakened from her crypt beneath the desert, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia, and terrors that defy human comprehension. This is not Brendan Fraser’s father’s Mummy!

“Megan Leavey”

Starring: Kate Mara, Tom Felton and Will Patton
Directed by: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Synopsis: Based on the true-life story of a young marine corporal whose unique discipline and bond with her military combat dog saved many lives during their deployment in Iraq. Love dog movies. As opposed to movies that ARE dogs.

“It Comes at Night”

Starring: Riley Keough and Joel Edgerton
Directed by: Trey Edward Shults
Synopsis: Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, a man has established a tenuous domestic order with his wife and son, but this will soon be put to the test when a desperate young family arrives seeking refuge. Keough’s grandfather passed away 40 years ago. You may have heard of him: Elvis Presley.


“Cars 3”

Starring the voices of: Owen Wilson, Armie Hammer and Larry the Cable Guy
Directed by: Brian Fee
Synposis: Lightning McQueen sets out to prove to a new generation of racers that he’s still the best race car in the world. And that “Cars 2” was just a bad dream.

“The Book of Henry”

Starring: Naomi Watts and Jacob Tremblay
Directed by: Colin Trevorrow
Synopsis: A single mom raises a child genius. Tremblay was the best thing about “Room.” Maybe in his next film he can actually have a father.


“Transformers: The Last Knight”

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Gemma Chan and Anthony Hopkins
Directed by: Michael Bay
Synopsis: Seriously? You actually care about the PLOT of this movie? Fine. Humans and Transformers are at war, Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving our future lies buried in the secrets of the past, in the hidden history of Transformers on Earth.

“The Big Sick”

Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan and Holly Hunter
Directed by: Michael Showalter
Synopsis: A couple deals with their cultural differences as their relationship grows. Just like real life.

“The Bad Batch”

Starring: Suki Waterhouse, Jason Mamoa and Jm Carrey
Directed by: Ann Lily Amirpour
Synopsis: A dystopian love story in a Texas wasteland, set in a community of cannibals. I’m just getting into “Breaking Bad.” I thought this had something to do with blue meth.


“Baby Driver”

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Lily James and Kevin Spacey
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Synopsis: After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail. You know who has never failed? Edgar Wright.


“Despicable Me 3”

Starring the voices of: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig and Trey Parker
Directed by: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin and Eric Guillon
Synopsis: Balthazar Bratt, a child star from the 1980s, hatches a scheme for world domination. Oh, and the Minions.

“The Beguiled”

Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst
Directed by: Sofia Coppola
Synopsis: At a girls’ school in Virginia during the Civil War, where the young women have been sheltered from the outside world, a wounded Union soldier is taken in. This is a remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood/Geraldine Page film.

“The House”

Starring: Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler and Ryan Simpkins
Directed by: Andrew J. Cohen
Synopsis: A dad convinces his friends to start an illegal casino in his basement after he and his wife spend their daughter’s college fund. Bet with your head, not over it!


“Spider-Man: Homecoming”

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton and more than one Avenger
Directed by: Jon Watts
Synopsis: Following the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” Peter Parker attempts to balance his life in high school with his career as the web-slinging superhero Spider-Man. The few minutes he was featured in the last “Captain America” film showed Holland to be perfectly cast as the young web-master.

“A Ghost Story”

Starring: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara
Directed by: David Lowery
Synopsis: In this singular exploration of legacy, love, loss, and the enormity of existence, a recently deceased, white-sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to try and reconnect with his bereft wife. Is that an Oscar under your sheet or are you just glad to see me?


“War for the Planet of the Apes”

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn and Andy Serkis
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Synopsis: After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind.



Starring: Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Synopsis: Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, Canada, and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.

“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”

Starring: Dane DeHaan, Clive Owen and John Goodman
Directed by: Luc Besson
Synopsis: A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.


“Atomic Blonde”

Starring: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy and, once again, John Goodman
Directed by: David Leitch
Synopsis: An undercover MI6 agent is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents. Director Leitch is also helming the second “Deadpool” film.


“The Dark Tower”

Starring: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey and Jackie Earle Haley
Directed by: Nikolaj Arcel
Synopsis: The Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, roams an Old West-like landscape where “the world has moved on” in pursuit of The Man In Black. He’s also searching for the fabled Dark Tower, in the hopes that reaching it will preserve his dying world. Good thing I’m going to read this later…until just now I thought Ron Howard was directing.

“Wind River”

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen and Graham Greene
Directed by: Taylor Sheridan
Synopsis: An FBI agent teams with the town’s veteran game tracker to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation. Director Sheridan wrote both 2015’s “Sicario” and last year’s Best Picture nominee, “Hell or High Water.”

“Ingrid Goes West”

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, O’Shea Jackson Jr and, once again, Elizabeth Olsen
Directed by: Matt Spicer
Synopsis: Ingrid Thorburn, a mentally disturbed young woman, becomes obsessed with Taylor Sloane, a social-media star who appears to have the perfect life.


Starring: John Krasinski, John Boyega and Anthony Mackie
Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow
Synopsis: A police raid in Detroit in 1967 results in one of the largest citizen uprisings in the United States’ history. Another team up of Oscar winning writer Mark Boal and Academy Award winning director Bigelow.


“Logan Lucky”

Starring: Daniel Craig, Channing Tatum and Adam Driver
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Synopsis: Two brothers attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina. And then run moonshine?