The first problem with Atomic Blonde is the soundtrack. It’s completely overbearing and is reminiscent of the Suicide Squadsoundtrack. Because this is a period piece that takes place in 1989 the movie is slathered with hits of the era but in a way that’s just distracting. These are songs I like, but the way they’re used just made me roll my eyes, and even made me mad because it prevented the movie from from developing its own identity and style. It feels like some studio hack swept in and slapped these songs on after the fact (although I have no idea whether that really happened or not).
The one time the soundtrack lets up is easily the beat part of the movie. Somewhere in the middle of this mess is a top rate, legitimately great action sequence. Its a great example of how great action doesn’t need punch up help from the soundtrack. Which also means that this movie’s best scene makes me kinda hate the rest of the movie, or at least resent it, for not being that good.
Another problem is that while this movie is at its best with brutal violent action, most of the action is unremarkable or bad (there’s a lame slow-mo shoot-em-up at the end of the film). So I can’t even say the action is good, it’s just that one remarkably great sequence.
Worst of all this movie isn’t really an action movie at all. It’s more of a spy thriller, which is unfortunate because the movie is really had at being a spy thriller. There’s way too much explaining. This is a movie that can’t help but blurt out to you how clever it is when it thinks it’s being clever which is exasperated by how un-clever it is.
A thriller like that doesn’t necessarily need to be actually clever, if you obfuscate and build mood you can get away with a lot. But again, the soundtrack doesn’t let a mood build, and the movie explains everything that happens right after it happens.
So there were two ways this movie could have gone to be better: it could have cut the soundtrack and all the segments that surround the things that happen. Or it could have just gone all out as a brutal violent action movie. Honestly the latter is what I wanted. Charlize Theron doesn’t get to kick enough ass in this movie and that’s the problem. This movie should have been more like The Raid and less like a bad Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
As it stands I recommend watching the good action sequence whenever it shows up on youtube. This movie was a disappointing frustration.