The Movie Guy: Charlize Theron back in starring role

Theron, who should definitely be on the "next James Bond" shortlist, goes from withering to warrior in seconds flat.

"Atomic Blonde" doesn't have the elegant simplicity of "John Wick's" tale of a hit man revenging the death of his dog but it's refreshing to have a woman without super powers taking charge in the male-dominated action genre where she both dishes it out and takes her fair share of abuse. Technically, it's his first film in which he is actually being credited (he is uncredited for his work on the first John Wick).

Should this be a series, audiences can look back on Atomic Blonde as the erratic-but-on-to-something near miss that it is, in the way that 007 fans honour Dr. She does note that she'll be 42 in August though, so she wants to get to it sooner than later. Fights in the film are extreme, and incredibly personal, bringing to the violence to the foreground and leaving little to the viewer's imagination. Twenty years ago, stuntmen Chad Stahelski and David Leitsch formed the production company 87eleven, and in the past few years their experiment has borne a bloody and beautifully choreographed fruit: two John Wick movies full of operatic scenery, brutal gunplay, and beatings that are filmed like a good dance number. The world that they understood of lies and secrets and untruths and backstabbing, which was their truth, was about to be shattered and the world is about to experience something great. But as she gets in deeper, other potential enemies reveal themselves including a seductive but panicked French agent (Sofia Boutella), a Stasi agent (Eddie Marsan) with an inconvenient photographic memory, and a crusty Central Intelligence Agency chief (John Goodman), who seems to suspect Lorraine herself is not as untainted as her reputation suggests. This form of storytelling, of course, can result in some potentially unreliable narration. The British government needs an undercover agent to try and get that list before it gets in the wrong hands.

Along the way, she encounters French operative Delphine (Sophia Boutella), who has her own motives for being in Berlin, as well as various KGB agents who are determined to cut her visit to Berlin short. You can make a grungy, cerebral, slow-burn spy movie along the lines of the excellent 2011 John le Carré adaptation Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (which also happened to feature Toby Jones as an effete MI6 spymaster). And here is where the film truly shines. From there, he offers a striking range of different looks, including a bravura single-shot scene of close combat near an stairwell, an apartment melee where Lorraine relies on available materials (chiefly a garden hose), and a behind-the-screen silhouette fight at an East German theater showing Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker. The 20-minute scene includes uninterrupted two-minute takes of Theron fighting off men from all angles. She's obviously an fantastic actress, and she's more than proven her ability to be a complete badass.

Lorraine has been sent to Berlin to retrieve a microfilm with a list of foreign agents working in the region. He exudes an easy charm that belies his hidden agenda.

It really doesn't get much better than this.

Meanwhile, Goodman, a welcome addition to almost any film, steals the few scenes that he is in.

It should come as no surprise that Theron can hold her own in an action film.

Charlize Theron grew up being inspired by the likes of Sigourney Weaver in Alien and Aliens, which gave her a new perspective on womanhood completely.

While the days of non-franchise films supported by a single star may be more or less over (this time, talk to Melissa McCarthy about being a significant exception to that), casting is still crucial.

  • Kyle Peterson