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Atomic Blonde, you’ve seen it all before [MOVIE REVIEW]

Charlize Theron (center) fighting off assailants in the movie, Atomic Blonde. Photo Courtesy of Focus Features Charlize Theron (center) fighting off assailants in the movie, Atomic Blonde.

A British undercover agent is murdered in East Berlin. But to Western governments, it’s not the spy’s life that matters but instead the secret files embedded in his watch, recovered by his killer, which puts their nations at risk. M16 (British Intelligence) sends in Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) to recover the lost timepiece.

If Atomic Blonde’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 also locate a traitor among the spy network she encounters in Germany. There’s violence in epic proportions and the movie advances the notice 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; while spies in passionate love making screens are run of the mill, Atomic Blonde gives that practice a new twist with the two participants being women.

There’s Hollywood’s usual stretches of credibility. Like a female undercover agent who is already 6 foot tall but then decides the best way to blend in and be non-conspicuous is 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.

And for the first time ever, I am giving a film an “F” for cast diversity. Set in Eastern Berlin in the late 80s, as in any large European city at that time, even under communist rule, there would have been people of color, likely African and Asian. There is not a person of color to be found in this film, none of the stars and not one individual in background scenes.

The verdict for Atomic Blonde is, do not rush to see it. Enjoy your 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.