Multi-faceted actors that seamlessly transition between jaw-dropping action and tear-jerking drama are few and far between.
These true talents are generational treasures that often cover every magazine, control whole summers with their blockbusters, and occasionally get notable Academy recognition as well.
Among these screen legends of past and present one iconic actor from South Africa currently sits as both a wrecking ball in her action performances, and nearly unparalleled performer in her dramatic roles…
Charlize Theron is often referred to as a bombshell, but honestly, that is such an understatement… she’s a nuclear presence of pure talent that seems to get better with each explosive performance.
Note: As this is a genre-specific blog, I thought it would be only right to highlight Theron’s best comic book, fantasy, or sci-fi roles over her illustrious career.
Atomic Blonde (2017)
Modern spy thrillers nowadays are usually forgettable due to the fact they feel like placeholders as audiences wait for either a new James Bond or Mission Impossible movie, which leaves any other studio attempt looking like a $100 million dollar knockoff.
Theron’s starring role in this graphic novel turned film not only surpassed others of its genre in terms of both story and tone, but it beat them into a merciless pulp when it comes to action.
With all the rage and gunfire of the John Wick franchise, the 80s nostalgia of Stranger Things, and an A-list spy performance that only Theron could pull off, Atomic Blonde is a gritty bloodbath that has no espionage equal.
It moves at the speed of a freight train and then crashes into your senses even harder than you expect, which was a fun deviation from artistically snobbier British spy films of previous eras.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Audiences around the globe rushed to see a continuation of the Mad Max franchise but were ultimately surprised when the film was heavily centered around Theron’s character Furiosa, who easily stamped her place as one of the most badass characters in sci-fi after only one movie.
The grueling effort that it took to play the role was evident in every single scene and the pay off was so visceral that it feels like you should have to wear goggles while watching to avoid getting scalding hot sand in your eyes.
In my humble opinion, Theron behind the wheel of her behemoth vehicle and battling against a maddened dehydrated cult was not only worthy of an Oscar but also one of the best action roles of the previous decade.
Theron and Hardy’s brutal shooting experience translated into a timeless cult classic, making their battle against the odds and oddities a film that seems to never lose its luster even with repeat viewing.
The Fate of the Furious (2017)
Genre fans may not classify this film as a sci-fi but given the serious lack of physics throughout the franchise, calling it just an action seems like a bit of an understatement.
Theron’s appearance in the Fast and Furious franchise seems out of place, yet among the ensemble cast, she is a clear stand out performance as the film’s charismatic villain.
Within the film universe that doesn’t take itself too seriously, Theron managed to be both a fun bad guy and also one who you wish had her own spin-off.
Playing a cerebral nemesis to the team of former car thieves turned super spy squad made for a refreshing challenge in a series of films that in the past have had pretty one-dimensional baddies.
If you haven’t seen the previous movies you can honestly start from this one and figure out the gist of the overarching story, which is worth it just to see Theron’s character outsmart a number of our current biggest action stars.
The Old Guard (2020)
As we creep past the halfway point of an expected slow 2020 for movies, this streaming service release may have stolen the spot for the best action film thus far.
Anyone leading a team of immortals against onslaughts of nameless bad guys is an incredibly easy sell for me, but again, with Theron as the lead it turned out to be so much more.
What should have been a flash in the pan forgettable Netflix action movie turned out to be a shotgun face blasting, battle ax dismembering, body riddled with bullets and kept coming stylized thrill ride.
With an already fun premise, Theron also managed to easily elevate every scene with her exceptional assemble cast, and set up a franchise that deserves a big screen reception when the world goes back to normal.
If you’re looking for a masterfully put together small screen foray on Netflix, I can not suggest this movie enough and it truly is worthy of its recent online ravings.
For those who have already seen the movie, it goes without saying that a prequel series that stars Theron and Van Veronica Ngo is beyond necessary as tie-in for the franchise, and Netflix should just pay them whatever it takes so it becomes a reality.