I’ve been watching Atomic Blonde excerpts and trailers since last March, and the cartoonish cyborg quality in the fight scenes is starting to turn me off. I’m starting to weaken, slump over. The apparent “joke” is that Charlize Theron‘s lezzy Cold War agent isn’t quite human, but it doesn’t amuse — it numbs you out. Director David Leitch‘s refusal to show her getting winded or pausing to catch her breath is irksome. I didn’t really buy the robo-badass aesthetic in the John Wick films either, although I found the first installment (which Leitch co-directed) amusing here and there.

Yes, Charlize is more believable as a kick-ass queen than little Angelina Jolie was in Salt, but she’s still not Gina Carano in Haywire. What a thrill when I first saw that Steven Soderbergh film in 2011. Over the last six years no would-be female action star has come close to matching Carano in terms of believable toughness, much less besting her.

Last March HE commenter Abby Normal claimed that Leitch “supposedly hates bullshitty, unrealistic, Fast and Furious-style violence” and is “leading a movement back to coherent action sequences and that ole timey thing we used to call ‘blocking’ as opposed to ‘quick cut and who gives a fuck.'” Yes, Leitch is aiming for a greater degree of choreographed realism than what the Furious films deliver, but it still feels pushed to the nth degree.

I just can’t buy Charlize “demolishing big guys with blows to the face,” as Roger Thornhill noted, because she just doesn’t seem brawny or heavy or strong enough, not to mention those identical thud-whunk sounds every time someone gets hit.

Based on a graphic novel called The Coldest City, a Cold War-era Berlin thing (circa 1989) about double agents and whatnot, pic costars James McAvoy, John Goodman, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella and Toby Jones.

The premiere happened last March at SXSW. Atomic Blonde won’t open for another two and a half weeks (7.28). The all-media will happen on 7.24.

From Andrew Barker’s Variety review, posted on 3.13: “Toward the end of Atomic Blonde, David Leitch’s hyperviolent, hyperstylized action pic set in Berlin just before the fall of the wall, Charlize Theron’s MI6 superwoman Lorraine Broughton is tasked with protecting a Stasi defector. He’s been wounded on the street, and she drags him into a building lobby. ‘Wait here,’ she says, and proceeds to do brutal battle with waves of henchmen up an elevator, down a staircase, into an apartment, out of the apartment, with a gun, without a gun, with an unloaded gun, with stray bits of furniture, back out into the street, into a car, forward in the car, and then in reverse.

“The scene lasts a good five minutes, and does not contain a single obvious cut. It is worth the price of admission alone.”