Movie review: 'Atomic Blonde'

Charlize Theron blasts the male-dominated spy genre to pieces


With “Atomic Blonde,” there are the expected comparisons to Bond and praise for feminizing a movie genre that has been largely dominated by six-pack-totin’ guys. All of that is missing the point. “Atomic Blonde” is really an outgrowth of a manga tradition that has been ongoing for decades throughout Asia and Europe. In fact, this film is an adaptation of a graphic novel series by Antony Johnston and illustrated by Sam Hart titled “The Coldest City.”

In the movie, Charlize Theron plays Lorraine Broughton, a highly skilled covert operative for the British MI6 spy agency whose latest ultra-violent exploit is told in two converging timelines, one in the present as she is being debriefed by her superiors and the other as she is dropped into communist East Berlin.

Oh, did we mention this takes place amid the tumultuous moments when a certain wall separating freedom and oppression was torn down? When Ronald Reagan added his voice to calls for the end to the symbol of the Cold War? Yup, it’s November of 1989, when David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” is still on the radio and in Berlin, spies are hard at work front-stabbing and back-stabbing their way through detente.

Director David Leitch, a major-league stuntman according to his page, dives into his roots and puts Lorraine through her paces as she attempts to locate, protect and extract an important dossier to the west, all while being shadowed at every turn by allies and foes, most of whom fly both ways in the scheme of things. Suffice it to say, Lorraine is experienced enough to know you cannot trust anyone, anywhere.

All of this is not unlike any workmanlike spy flick, but here the emphasis is on clever style, characterized by glorious fashions, sexy attitude, gleaming surfaces punctuating the grit and grime of a decaying political structure and, of course, Theron in full-on mega-warrior mode. We’ve got to say, the action-fight sequences are real knuckle crunchers. Bloody, brutal and, forgive me, balls to the wall, they are some of the most realistic seen today – even, dare I say, better than Bourne.

As her contacts, there’s a guy named David Percival (James McAvoy), who is supposed to provide a way for Lorraine to locate the dossier, a nebbishy guy code-named Spyglass (Eddie Marsan) who’s got a secret of his own, and a beautiful and surprising ally named Delphine (Sofia Boutella). Back in the west, as she is being debriefed, she is subjected to prodding from her MI6 superior, Eric Gray (Toby Jones), and an unwelcome U.S. CIA official named Emmett Kurzfeld (John Goodman).

Of course, some of this is played for laughs, but don’t settle in for a few chuckles because the action will yank you to the edge of your seat before you can say, “Bond who?”

This might just be a franchise to watch. By the way, there’s great soundtrack music, too.

“Atomic Blonde” is rated Rfor sequences of strong violence, language throughout and some sexuality/nudity.

It is showing daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit

Also showing in Taos

The following were edited from press materials.

Emoji Movie

MPAA rating: PG for rude humor

Mitchell Storyteller 7

The animated “Emoji Movie” unlocks the never-before-seen secret world inside your smartphone. Hidden within the messaging app is Textopolis, a bustling city where all your favorite emojis live, hoping to be selected by the phone’s user.

In this world, each emoji has only one facial expression — except for Gene (voiced by T.J. Miller), an exuberant emoji who was born without a filter and is bursting with multiple expressions. Determined to become “normal” and like the other emojis, Gene enlists the help of his handy best friend, Hi-5 (James Corden), and notorious code breaker emoji Jailbreak. Together, they embark on an epic “app-venture” through the apps on the phone, each its own wild and fun world, to find the code that will fix Gene.

When a greater danger threatens the phone, the fate of all emojis depends on these three unlikely friends who must save their world before it’s deleted forever.

Additional actors lending their voice talents include Anna Faris, Maya Rudoph, Steven Wright, Patrick Stewart and Jennifer Coolidge. This film was directed by Tony Leondis.

This film will be screened daily.

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit

The Big Sick

MPAA rating: R for language including some sexual references

Mitchell Storyteller 7

In this comedy directed by Michael Showalter, Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani), in the middle of becoming a budding stand-up comedian, meets Emily (Zoe Kazan). Meanwhile, a sudden illness sets in, forcing Emily to be put into a medically induced coma.

Kumail must navigate being a comedian, dealing with tragic illness and placating his family’s desire to let them fix him up with a spouse, while contemplating and figuring out who he really is and what he truly believes.

Co-stars include Holly Hunter, Ray Romano and Aidy Bryant.

This film will be screened daily.

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit

Spirit Game: Pride of a Nation

MPAA rating: Not rated

Movies at the TCA

This documentary from directors Peter Spirer and Peter Baxter follows the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team on the road as it competes in the 2015 World Box Lacrosse Championships. For the first time ever, the championship games were held on an Indian reservation, in Onondaga in upstate New York, the capital of the Iroquois Confederacy. Thrilling and inspiring, this film is highly recommended.

This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (Aug. 6), and at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (Aug. 7-9).

Movies at the TCA film series, Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call the Taos Center for the Arts at (575) 758-2052 or visit