Thursday, July 27, 2017

Atomic Blonde - Movie Review

The Movie: Atomic Blonde

The Director: David Leitch

The Cast: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Sofia Boutella, John Goodman, Toby Jones, Bill Skarsgård, Eddie Marsan, James Faulkner

The Story: An undercover MI6 agent is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents.

The Review:
Yes, we've all heard that this movie is basically a female John Wick and in some ways it is, but in a lot of ways, it is very different. Director David Leitch actually helped Chad Stahelski bring the now famous Keanu Reeves character to life (IMDB gives him uncredited director credit, if that makes sense) so parallels and comparisons are definitely warranted if not inevitable. Both Leitch and Stahelski have a background in stunt work and this film shows off Leitch's expertise in some very creative and original ways which really helps with the wow factor.

There were many times where the action had the audience gasping, cringing, cheering, and just generally being in awe of what was going on, I just wish there had been more. When the focus is on the fight scenes, it ranges from very good to flat out brilliant although, when trying to tell an actual story, it was very predictable and quite honestly not that interesting. My first big "uh oh" moment was when the movie's McGuffin was introduced: a stolen item that contains a list of every undercover operative which, if released, would really mess up the cold war for everyone. This exact thing has been used in movies numerous times, most notably in the Mission Impossible series. So yeah. yay.

For me, the soundtrack was also cringe worthy as it tried way too hard to make 80's new wave music hip and trendy, but the persistent redundancy of the sounds just got annoying about halfway through the movie and never got any better. I can see why this was done as it fits with the time frame of the story and it matches the neon infused visuals, it just didn't work for me.

Even with a flawed story, we all know the real reason to see this movie is to watch Charlize Theron whoop some serious ass and she does all of that and then some. Her character's fighting style is intense, efficient, and pretty freaking brutal and she actually takes about as much punishment as she dishes out. Seriously, there was a lot of shock and awe from the audience at just how hard core the fight scenes got and I was feeling the pain right along with her and her unfortunate adversaries.

The centerpiece of all the action takes place in the middle of the film as Theron's character has to fight her way through a gauntlet of heavies while protecting a man whose survival is vital to the success of her mission. A lot of it plays out as if it was shot in extended, continuous takes although there are a few places where I spotted opportunities to sneak in a cut or two. Either way, this really helps to dial up the the urgency and intensity all the way up and the payoff is oh so satisfying.

The Verdict:
So, is Atomic Blonde the female John Wick? I guess if you want to label it that way, I'm not going to argue against it. Ultimately, it's a solid action movie with some pretty intense fight scenes, a decent yet unoriginal story, and a leading lady who continues to elevate every project she gets her hands on.

By the way, Atomic Blonde is an adaptation of a 2012 graphic novel called The Coldest City, written by Antony Johnston and illustrated by Sam Hart, so yes, it does count as a comic book movie.

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