Directed by: David Leitch
Screenplay by: Kurt Johnstad
Based on the Graphic Novel by: Antony Johnston & Sam Hart
Release Date: July 28, 2017
The problem with movie trailers today is you get the entire plot and the best jokes before you even get to the theater. At the very least the trailer is an awful representation of the film. The trailer for Atomic Blonde however, is absolutely perfect. Everything you need to know about this film is right there in the trailer. The look, the feel, the amazing soundtrack – it is all there in the trailer and yet, it doesn’t give away any of the amazing twists and turns.
Do you like Mission: Impossible? James Bond? Did you always wish those films were more neon artwork starring an incredible Charlize Theron? Then guess what. Atomic Blonde is that film.
I don’t want to give away too much about the plot, because I loved how little I knew going into it. I’ll set it up a little bit though. Charlize Theron is a MI6 operative, Lorraine Broughton, tasked to go under cover in Berlin in 1989. Her mission is make contact with David Percival (James McAvoy), another agent posted in Berlin, and uncover a McGuffin list. Along the way there’s violence, secrets and many twists and turns. As apart of the audience you never quite learn who you can or should trust.
First let’s just say this film is gorgeous. At any point, you could press pause and you’d have a gorgeous photograph. I’m not exaggerating when I say, I would definitely print and frame just about any shot in Atomic Blonde. The most accurate way to describe the aesthetic of Atomic Blonde is to call it a two hour music video. The amount of choreography visible in this film is incredible. Whether it is the fight scenes (which are things of beauty) or the camera flowing effortlessly through scenes, everything in this film comes together to create something that is so pleasant to the eyes.
This will sound like I’m contradiction myself, but it was so stylized and gorgeous, I actually wished the film would chill out for a few seconds just so I could catch my bearings.
I’m going to skip the paragraph where I individually gush over the actors, because I love entire cast. Everyone in this film is amazing and perfectly embodied their roles.
Okay, I lied because I have to say one thing.
Charlize Theron is a goddess. I will always remember the video she did for Snow White and The Huntsman in where she gives instruction on how to walk like a queen. “Shoulders down and just think Murder”. There’s a power that is evident behind her eyes. She’s wonderful in this movie and I would watch hours of her just walking down the street with the confidence that she could take anyone apart with a single glance.
Okay, I lied again. I have one more thing to say.
James McAvoy is always a pleasure to watch on screen. You love him, you hate him and you can’t ever get an accurate read on him the entire movie. He’s so sketching and it’s amazing.
The fight scenes were so incredibly tight. There’s a scene towards the end-ish of the film which is a work of art. It was like watching a very violet ballet. It struck me at one point that other films might have cut to wide shots to make sure to showcase the entire action, but instead the camera stayed close. It was personal and intimate and the entire audience felt every single punch. When the characters swayed (because of their head traumas and very likely concussions), the camera swayed with them becoming a barometer for our character’s health. With a film that is already so very much like a music video, a scene like this could have become cartoonish, but instead the fight choreography brought us realism as characters stumbled and fell and dealt with their exhaustion.
Here’s the part of the review where I have to talk about one of the things I took issue with. The fate of the character Delphine (Sofia Boutella), an inexperienced French intelligence officer. She meets and falls for Lorraine and they share some touching moments. The relationship between Delphine and Lorraine had so much potential and had this ended with them meeting at a moped rental place on the beach a la The Bourne Identity, I would have been more than okay.
*BEWARE OF SPOILERS*
This next part is a spoiler, even if it is heavily implied in the film trailer. Delphine finds herself in over her head and while trying to run is brutally murdered. Its a little unclear whether it is her attempts to aid Lorraine or simply her close relationship which is the cause of her undoing. The scene is by far the most upsetting and I would maybe even say the most brutal. Even the characters in the film call out how unnecessary her death was.
The film showcases only two woman in the entire film and one of them is brutally murdered while help is literally moments away. There are many more people who are capable of intelligently discussing the “Bury Your Gays” Trope, and just mentioning it is literally the very least I can do. This is a problem in the film and it is something that should be called out. For all the previous points I made earlier in this post about reasons to love this film. This is a very large reason not to love it and I couldn’t finish this post without mentioning it.
So, in all. This film isn’t perfect. It has at least one very glaring problem. So I won’t recommend this movie to everyone. In fact, I’ve found myself telling my roommate she would not have loved this movie. I did love this movie, however, and I can foresee myself watching it again. The lighting was gorgeous and the fight scenes were wonderfully choreographed. I loved it’s twisty nature and it’s wonderful casts of characters.