starring Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Toby Jones
screenplay Kurt Johnstad, based on the graphic novel The Coldest City, written by Antony Johnson and illustrated by Sam Hart
directed by David Leitch
by Walter Chaw SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT. Essentially No Way Out with less hot sex but better action sequences, David Leitch's Atomic Blonde is a lot of truly dreary Cold War spy intrigue interrupted periodically, but not often enough, by the good stuff. It proposes the antiquated notion that collusion with the Russians is treason in having heroic MI6 agent Lorraine (Charlize Theron--Mr. F after all, all this time) take ice baths and try to figure out who mysterious mole "Satchel" is in the last days of East Berlin. Her contact there is skeezy Percival (James McAvoy) whose handlers fear has gone a bit "feral" in the field. We're introduced to him trading Jim Beam and blue jeans for information and waking up with two girls (two!) to pick up Lorraine at the airport. There's also a French spy named Delphine (Sofia Boutella) who offers up a Sapphic love interest for Lorraine and ends up the way that lovers end up in spy movies. Leitch, an uncredited co-director on John Wick, brings the same style of kinetic, close-in martial arts and, eventually, gunplay of that film, but missteps badly by, among other things, making this about more than avenging a dead dog. Without an emotional charge--and there isn't enough of one generated by the loss of two of Lorraine's lovers--there's no real sense of emotion or energy in the action scenes. They're super cool, don't get me wrong (at least they are until Leitch decides at the very end to overuse slow motion), but they lack motivation and investment. But that's the least of Atomic Blonde's problems.