Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is the ultimate secret weapon. She packs the skills of Jason Bourne, the charisma of James Bond and the energy of Lola (of Run Lola Run). She’s lightning in a bottle, and the storm’s about to break free.
The story is presented mainly in flashback sequences as Lorraine recounts the frenetic details of her latest mission to her insistent British superiors (Toby Jones and James Faulkner) and a skeptical CIA lead (John Goodman). It all takes place against the dark chaotic backdrop of the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989.
Theron’s performance is scintillating. Few actresses today boast the ingredients required to play the lead role and do it with such authenticity. Her ice-cold, steely eyes; limber figure; and whirlwind reflexes practically melt the screen. It’s a shame that she couldn’t find a way to loan some of her ample talents to the writing. The plot left me feeling like a junkie on a mix of amphetamines and Ambien.
The action is a raucous romp of hand-to-hand mayhem turbo-charged by pitch-perfect ’80s pop hits. Like a game of musical chairs, once the music stops, the film screeches to a grinding halt. The finer points of the plot are often mired in layers of impenetrable, unnecessary complexity that give the sense of a writer too smart for his own good. On the plus side, we’re not really here for the dirty details. We’re here for the carnage, and Atomic’s impact will make you swear that you’ve been knocked into the neighboring theater.