Randy gets a sneak peek at ATOMIC BLONDE!
Randy here-back from the movies!
I’ve been waiting to see Atomic Blonde since the first trailer hit a few months ago. Never get tired of seeing a new, kick-ass female action star-and Charlize Theron delivers. Just watch that first hallway fight in the trailer. I’ll wait…
No. Cuts. I can dig that!
Thanks to AMC Theaters Stubs program, I managed an early peek at the film, opening July 28th in the US.
Atomic Blonde is a throwback to 80’s spy thrillers, a trip through the twisty espionage world led by Charlize Theron, who comes ready to win-on her terms. This is John LeCarre by way of John Wick.
So Atomic Blonde has been advertised as being a new John Wick with a female lead. Between the long-take action scenes shown and being directed by David Leitch, co-director of JW, it’s understandable and makes sense for marketing. But this isn’t some kind of knock-off action film, but a different way to tell a spy thriller.
Taking place in Berlin in the late 80’s, we get to go back to a “classic” time of secret agents vying for control of secrets for their respective countries’ Good. It is a twisty tale, making you question everyone involved and their motives, just as a good spy movie should be. But how it is presented is what makes it the most interesting.
M16 agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) isn’t Jason Bourne, Jack Ryan, James Bond, or any other of her male movie spy counterparts. She’s a cipher that takes the length of the film to start to understand who she is. I found that refreshing. Lorraine’s there with agendas upon agendas, constantly having to re-evaluate how to complete here mission and stay alive. Theron does an excellent job at cold & aloof, without feeling dull. It’s the way she keeps herself alive, only occasionally letting it down, regretting it almost immediately. There’s a history of her character that comes out in these moments, showing how much she’s given up as an intelligence agent and survivor.
I found myself having moments that reminded of the movie TINKER TAILER SOLDIER SPY, which I find one of the best classic spy thrillers of recent years. Not comparing them, per se; just reminded me of some of the spycraft.
That’s not to say there isn’t any action here. Director Leitch, as he did with Keanu Reeves, uses Charlize Theron’s physical abilities to tailor the fighting to her. And Theron is more than up for it! The trailers and “Chapters” released show a great deal of the action, so I’d avoid them if you want the full surprise & enjoyment. But the in-close, visceral hand-to-hand combat scenes are excellent, showing both the expertise of those fighting and the toll it takes on them. There’s one action sequence in particular that is brutal and constant and reaches a point of being funny… then does a call-back! The cost of this kind of combat is not ignored, which is such a rare thing in so many films today. You see the amount of damage she takes after so much fighting.
By going a different route in telling the story, it comes down to choices, both within and in the making of the film. Do you go for highlighting the action over the spy story or do you have intrigue over action? I think the film does a balancing act between the two. It doesn’t sacrifice action for the on-going intrigue, and keeps the action well within the scope of the story.
The supporting cast are a great mix between older characters actors (Toby Jones, John Goodman, James Faulkner) and younger blood (James McAvoy , Sofia Boutella ). They are great at representing the changing of the guard at that time. The setting, in both time and city, gives the movie an energy & rock n’ roll vibe, right down to the soundtrack. McAvoy seems to reveal in the fun sleaziness of David Percival.
I thought it a little odd at the fact that the only two major women characters in the movie seem to spend time alone always in lingerie. But with Theron as both star and producer, I hope that was a decision she was part of.
Atomic Blonde is a good place for a both action and thinking. Between the story and the structure, I’m thinking a second viewing will be necessary. Some have said it is convoluted, but I had no problem, as you just commit a little extra to following along.
And I’m really hoping Charlize Theron will be back for further adventures of Lorraine Broughton!
I’ll keep a glass chilled glass of Stoli ready for you.
WORTH PAYING: Evening Prices… especially if you’re looking for something classic told a new way. WORTH MAKING TOYS: With her several different outfits and weapons, I think a 12” figure from Hot Toys would be excellent!
NOTE: There are no post-credit scenes
That’s it for now.
Back to toy stuff shortly!
Be seeing you!