Monday, July 31, 2017

[Review] Atomic Blonde

Charlize Theron throws down in Atomic Blonde, an ultraviolent action and espionage thriller from stunt specialist David Leitch, who made his directorial debut with the sensational John Wick.

Berlin. 1989. On the cusp of the wall collapse. Theron plays Lorraine, an icy and immensely skilled spy who teams up (sort of) with a punky firecracker played by James McAvoy, in order to retrieve a compromised list of identities, and most importantly--kick A LOT of ass.

Based on a graphic novel, the film packs a highly stylized visual punch. The cold moon colors... The neon-soaked lighting... The deep shadowy streets... The flush framing that captures it all... It's full notably striking shots. Speaking of notably striking shots--fists, bullets, blunt objects, and sharp blades all land with brutal impact. They want you to imagine the pain. The combat sequences here are just relentless. There's even an unbroken, single-camera fight scene of Theron beating up a bunch of dudes in an apartment stairwell, and it goes on for damn near 15 minutes. It's a tenaciously violent and technically astounding showcase. The film's blaring soundtrack of '80s new wave synchronizes with the mayhem in a way that might remind you of this year's surprise hit Baby Driver.

Charlize Theron, who's no stranger to cutthroat action, is in full command here, and as the late great Stuart Scott would say, she's cooler than the other side of the pillow. As for the plot, this isn't the easiest mission to follow, and it gets more muddled as it goes on. It's who's who story is just too complicated for its own good, which is unfortunate. But even if you get lost amidst the cluster of deception, Atomic Blonde is still an engaging, visceral watch. There's pleasure (and pain) in the details.

( 8/10 )

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