Despite being a fan of Marvel, and a huge supporter of Wonder Woman, the film I anticipated watching the most over the summer was Atomic Blonde. I saw it twice.
I can’t quite put my finger on why.
Was it because the trailer was beautifully done; using musical cues more effectively than some entire films? Because it was immediately evident that, not only was the lead of this movie a woman – but a queer woman? Maybe, it was because Charlize Theron is amazing, and the supporting cast was impressive in its own right? (Probably yes, to all of the above.)
Overall, it was because Atomic Blonde promised something I see far too seldom; a female-led action movie that leaned into the main character being both incredibly badass and incredibly vulnerable.
I don’t want to spoil the movie, but her job takes a physical and emotional toll. The director succeeds in doing so without using a sexualized, disgusting, male-gazey shot of a naked woman.
It’s an achievement in and of itself.
A beautifully shot Cold War-era spy thriller with a fantastic soundtrack and a variety of morally ambiguous characters you can sink your teeth into.
Atomic Blonde takes every seemingly-invulnerable, untouchable, ice-cold-bitch, make-up-still-flawless lady spy/action heroine and says “B for effort,” before presenting their own take; a woman who is allowed to succeed and fail (look bad while doing it,) without being penalized or dehumanized for either.
They make her into a person.
She’s clever, well dressed, and undeniably a badass. She has to make hard choices to get her job done, and sometimes she fucks up. Don’t take my word for it – Atomic Blonde is available for purchase in October for those of you who missed it in theatres.