Sunday, July 30, 2017

Atomic Blonde review

Many of you probably don't remember The Cold War. It was a time when the communist Iron Curtain nations and the West fought each other through proxies and spies. The year 1989 marked the beginning of the end of communism. What would emerge and what will happen to communist spies? A new ideology will arise. It will be criminal greed. Atomic Blonde takes place in this new dawn. The film's arrival is relevant as we are currently in the middle of a Russian scandal of hacking our democracy that is not about old communism but greed.

Atomic Blonde
is told through a series of flashbacks. The place where most of the action takes place is East Berlin. The East German government is about to fall as protesters take to the streets  demanding freedom.  Enter Bourne. Jane Bourne. No. How about    Bond?   Jane Bond. Nyet. Try Broughton. Lorraine Broughton. (Charlize Theron) She is a MI6 agent sent to Berlin to recover a list of agents that if exposed would endanger them and lead to continuation of The Cold War. Hold on. Isn't this the plot to Mission Impossible? Anyway, Broughton is to meet her British contact, David Percival (James McAvoy) who is a entrepreneur when it comes to forbidden Western goods like whiskey. Broughton must follow the trail of a  dead agent to find out where the list is. There are other spies who want the same thing and they will resort to killing for it.

The movie has one hell of a cast. Joining Theron are also Toby Jones and John Goodman who play MI6 and CIA supervisors. Sofia Boutella plays Delphine, a sultry French agent who has an affair with Broughton. There is real chemistry between Theron and Boutella. Their bedroom scenes  smolder and ignite  the screen. James McAvoy is good as the sleazy MI6 agent. But it is Charlize Theron who turns in an Oscar winning performance. It's the small things that make up a whole. The good British accent. The cool and professional way she shoots a gun. And her bad ass fighting skills. She is a fury of punches and kicks. She takes pain and inflicts it. This is one brutal ballet of death. Yet with all the bruises, she still rocks stiletto heals and an evening gown.

Writer Kurt Johnstad adopted a graphic novel, The Coldest City to make Atomic Blonde. It's competent but could use a little more hints for the ending of the movie. But this film has the powerful dominance of its director, David Leitch. First, he drains the movie of much of the color. And when he does use it, the effect is that the color sticks out against the darkness. Theron's blonde heir. Red neon lights. Add to that, the expressionistic use of shadow and you have film noir or should I say spy noir. It's all pat of the mystery and moral ambiguity.  . Furthermore, the use of eighties pop music also helps transport one to 1989. Good to hear 99 Luft Ballons again.

Leitch also knows how to stage action scenes. The fight scenes are carefully choreographed. Then instead of relying on editing, he shows full bodies in motion. I wish every film director would take Leitch's cue. Excessive editing leads to confusion and doesn't give you the idea of the dangerous struggle. The fight scenes though violent are exciting and simply marvelous.

Atomic Blonde is stylish. Thrilling.  Sexy. Go see it. The grade is A Minus.

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