Aug-17-2017

Reel Snippet – Atomic Blonde

Summary: The year is 1989, before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and an MI6 agent named Gasciogne (Sam Hargrave) gets gunned down in East Berlin. As he was carrying a list of deep cover agents, MI6 taps their best agent, Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron), to get to Berlin and get that list back. Coincidentally, Lorraine and Gascionge were lovers, so this is now very personal. In Berlin, she learns from an ally named David Percival (James McAvoy) that someone named Spyglass (Eddie Marsan) has the entire list memorized, making him just as important. Now entrenched in Berlin, Lorraine has to navigate the many factions in play with only her new lover, a French agent named Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella) keeping her grounded. If she’s not careful, the Cold War might just get colder.

Review: Atomic Blonde was good. Not great, but good. A big problem is that in the mass of events and glamor, it becomes very hard to tell why any of the characters are doing what they’re doing. Truth be told, I can’t even remember their names, at least not until I go to Wikipedia to help write the synopsis above, and a big reason for that is that they are not compelling characters. They’re cool and sexy, but not too memorable.

But what the film lacks in substance, it makes up for in style. I love the underground punk aesthetic it immerses itself in, right down to the text it uses and the awesome soundtrack. While it takes a while for the movie to kick into gear (around the time of the umbrella scene, to be specific), the action becomes amazing from that point on with breakneck fights that look like they were filmed in one take. A friend compared the action to John Wick, which fits because they both share a director.

I suppose the movie’s fine enough, being sexy and awesome when it needs to be. But that’s the thing: it’s as good as it needs to be and doesn’t reach any further. Then again, a lot of the criticisms I could aim at it can apply to most James Bond films, so I guess there’s no harm in giving women their own James Bond. Check it out, but you won’t suffer if you wait to rent it.

Fun Tidbit: This was apparently a very physically taxing movie on the actors. Charlize Theron had eight personal trainers to help her deal with the intensity of the action and even trained with Keanu Reaves when he was preparing for John Wick 2. She wound up cracking two teeth while filming, but that’s nothing compared to James McAvoy, who broke his hand during the filming of Split and had to do all his action scenes while still injured. That… is awesome.


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