Esther McCarthy reviews this week's new releases
Atomic Blonde (16) ***
The action movie boasts a decent performance from Charlize Theron, some terrific action sequences and a sense of urgency that initially draws you in.
But when you scratch the surface, the movie’s an entertaining but ultimately frustrating mess, bogged down by a convoluted plot and a sense of self-regard that ultimately proves to be distancing.
Set in late 1980s Berlin amid civil unrest calling for that wall to come tumbling down, the movie is set to an enjoyably thumping, though occasionally overpowering, pop soundtrack from the period.
Told partly in flashback, we meet Theron's Lorraine Broughton during her debriefing interview, where she’s required to explain her actions following a job that went dramatically insane.
We learn that she was sent to Berlin to take down a foreign spy ring that has killed an undercover agent for reasons not initially revealed.
On the ground, she’s ordered to join forces and cooperate with the local operative David Percival (a typically manic James McAvoy) but the two do not form an easy alliance. They are tasked with retrieving a list of agents in the field, drawn up by a rogue operative named Spyglass (Marsan), that could be lethal in the wrong hands.
The movie is adapted from the graphic novel The Coldest City but the exaggerated drama does not always translate effectively to the big screen.
The Nut Job 2 (G) ***
A BIG-NAME cast including Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Maya Rudolph and Jackie Chan lend their voices to this slight but moderately entertaining animated sequel.
The Nut Job 2 sees the return of the enjoyably grumpy Surly Squirrel and his fellow critters who populate Liberty Park.
The area's mayor, egged on by his spoilt and temperamental daughter, announces radical new plans for Liberty Park.
He intends to build a big new entertainment complex there, and in doing so destroy not only the squirrels’ natural habitat but the creatures themselves.
It’s up to the gang to come up with a plan that will enable them to reclaim the park. The movie lacks the verve, wit or storytelling power of, for example, some of Pixar’s greats, and the plot never throws up any great surprises.
But there’s enough colour in the animation and fun in the characters’ antics to hold the attention of younger children in particular.
The Verdict: Moderately fun.