Charlize Theron as the Atomic Blonde
According to our friends from UrbanDictionary.com, the colloquial definition of Hot Garbage is “Extremely foul-smelling fart, usually created by a mix of beer and foods including but not limited to garlic, broccoli and beans, that slowly creeps across a room and lingers in the nostrils. Usually of the Silent but Deadly variety. Reminds you of the vicious, rotting scent of your trash cans waiting to be picked up on the hottest day of summer.” Well, this is summer time 2017, andAtomic Blonde is a film that has been released this past week. What do the definition and the movie have in common? They are both, in a sense, hot garbage in and amongst themselves.
Charlize Theron is a world class actress who is radiant well into her forties. However, regrettably for many of her fans, she is politically toxic. She rarely misses (this is not an uncommon phenomenon for Hollywood starlets) an opportunity to espouse her political views that 50% of the entire nation disagree with. For full context, I have written before that I was truly disappointed in Mel Gibson’s racial epithets (ignorance), but I separated the man from his work. Having provided said context, I have never not liked a Charlize Theron movie until Atomic Blonde.
Atomic Blonde has only one real saving grace (and one minorly enjoyable part to be discussed in a moment), and that is Charlize herself. She is so compelling and interesting and dynamic. It is a joy to watch her perform. Unlike many other critics, I will not laud Atomic Blonde merely because a woman is kicking ass, because women and men alike kick ass every day in a multitude of ways and no one individual deserves acclaim for being a badass. Were I to subscribe the badass title on a woman it would be to/on Kate Beckinsale (see Underworld parts 1-100 for details!) or Milla Jovovich (See Resident Evil apoca-whatever for details), not on Charlize for this particular role.
Set in near-reunified East and West Berlin circa the late 1980s, Atomic Blonde is the story of a double agent surrounded by other double agents. The movie is chock-full of hot and steamy sex scenes, fatal attractions, eighties music at deafening volumes, and actors that try as they might, could not defeat a script devoid of anything remotely interesting. Please do not misunderstand me, there is an absolute dearth of pre-unification movies to choose from if one were so inclined, but that fact alone does not resurrect Atomic Blonde from the garbage chute from Star Wars.
There are two great things about Atomic Blonde that I can recommend; Charlize Theron at her sexiest, and the 80s music en fuego in stereo. What I cannot bring myself to enjoy is James McAvoy’s weak performance or John Goodman’s attempt at playing a cutthroat bureaucratic killer. Nothing connects, and the film becomes worse by the second despite starting out fairly mildly. Indeed, Atomic Blonde ends up where it started, mired in a characterization as being nothing more than hot garbage.