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Friday, August 4, 2017

ATOMIC BLONDE EXPLODES

 
ATOMIC BLONDE EXPLODES

Atomic Blonde is being marketed as a start to finish kick-butt action film comparable to the director’s other action series, John Wick. This is not only misleading, but a disservice to a film trying—not always successfully—to be something different. To be sure there are some terrific set pieces of brutal, balletic, violence in which Charlize Theron proves she’s the real deal when it comes to being an action star. She’s not quite up to Wonder Woman standards, but there is no doubt Theron is giving everything she has to the part. 

Beyond the excellent execution of this expected action, Atomic Blonde is mostly a smoldering slow burn, allowing bits and pieces of its end of the Cold War plot seep out before the next explosion of violence. This works much like a pressure cooker without a release valve, which ratchets up the film’s concept. However, the issue with these scenes is they suffer from a standard espionage cross, double cross, triple cross plot line. The search for a microfilm with the names of every agent the British and the Americans have in Eastern Europe was old after the first season of Mission: Impossible. My question about his trope has always been, who would know all the names of the agents from both countries and why in hell would they write them down? 

Despite this cliché, you do have to pay attention to the details in order to understand the whole—which by the end of the movie not only comes around, but comes around again. The Accountant did this payoff better last year, but Atomic Blonde almost pulls it off.

Atomic Blonde also tries had to make up for its plot shortcomings with a stylish neon color palette and some amazing fashions for Theron to strut her stuff in. The excellent fight scenes are well choreographed, but the biggest plus is you can actually see what is happening and follow the action. For once there is no herky-jerky, motion sickness inducing, handheld camera crap with so many cuts as to render the sequence totally devoid of any interest. When Theron goes into action, you are watching and riveted by her every continuously flowing move.

Best of all, Theron’s character not only gets beat up as she fights desperately against multiple stronger foes, but she wears the unglamorous results from start to finish—she has not only been put through a preverbal thrashing machine, but displays the ravages. Theron’s acting, while stylistically wooden in the quieter scenes, subtly allows her character’s core of inner strength and determination to believably overcome the physical damage she has sustained. In a genre where subtly is usually distained, this is a welcome surprise.

Atomic Blonde is not a movie for everyone—certainly not for those with gentler sensibilities—but action and spy junkies will find a lot to like, while wishing there was just a bit more tactile strength to hold it all together...

Big plus: The '80s sountrack kicks butt as much as Theron does...


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