Atomic Blonde

#58

After the most recent SXSW there were two films that were on everyone’s lists: Baby Driver and Atomic Blonde. Both had 100% on Rotten Tomatoes for some time after. I was less than impressed with Baby Driver as I felt mislead by the reviews; expecting more action and/or more plot. The music and how it was utilized was the star of that movie, even if I felt it didn’t meet my expectations. As for Atomic Blonde, it was praised for the action scenes that were being compared to John Wick. It is a fair comparison since they share a director. So how was it according to me?

I give Atomic Blonde 6 “there was as much Russian involvement as our last election” out of 10.

FOR THE UNITIATED

We start out seeing British agent Gascione running from an unknown attacker only to get killed and have his watch that contained top secret information stolen by a Soviet agent named Bakhtin. To recover the information, Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) to meet with David Percival (James McAvoy) in Berlin. Things are not what they seem since the intelligence officer nicknamed Spyglass (Eddie Marsan) who made the list also memorized it and wants to get out if East Berlin. Soon the plot thickens as a French operative (Sophia Boutella), a CIA superior (John Goodman), another Soviet agent, and Lorraine’s own British handlers all seem to be pushing and pulling their truth in different ways.

THE BEST

David Leitch is a name more people are starting to recognize after he co-directed John Wick, this movie, and is directing Deadpool 2 as well. He has put in his work behind the scenes as a stuntman, stunt coordinator, and second unit director (generally handle directing all stunts, set up shots, and other photography that helps supplement the main director) for 20 years. He brought that knowledge to Atomic Blonde and it shows in the fight scenes. There is one fight scene that I don’t recall seeing in any trailers and it is PHENOMENAL! It is a one-shot style fight that lasts over 8 minutes ans covers Lorraine fighting over half a dozen other people. This fight might be my favorite fight scene of recent memory. While it might not have been as precise as John Wick or as stylized as most superhero movies, the brutality and skill from both sides of the camera shows. It is worth the price of admission alone.

THE WORST

This movie uses an interrogation to go over details of the mission. Several movies do this and it generally adds another layer of depth, but every time Atomic Blonde goes back to the interrogation it just takes away all momentum. This doesn’t really add anything to the story aside from the beginning or end in my opinion. I assume that it was pulled from the graphic novel, but the transitions would have likely been better formated to tv instead of movies.

OVERALL

Charlize Theron is definitely continuing her role as a badass woman after Furiosa in Mad Max. I wouldn’t say it is a direct comparison to John Wick like all the ads would have you believe. The action scenes aren’t as clean or well shot and the movie tried to be a much more artistic than its spiritual predecessor, which knocked it down a few notches in my opinion. With that said, as good as some of the cinematography is … I wouldn’t rush out to see it in cinemas. If you wanted to see it and can’t wait, maybe go for a matinee.

RECOMMENDATION

The movie that came to mind is one that used the interrogation style much better: The Usual Suspects. It’s one of my favorite Kevin Spacey roles along with fantastic performances from Benicio Del Toro, Stephen Baldwin, and several others. If you have seen it then you know what makes it great. If you haven’t seen it and have avoided spoilers, treat yourself to a great action mystery movie!

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