Movie review: Atomic Blonde

Movie reviews

Hello!

Accidentally, this week my blog has a theme – alternative (not DC or Marvel) comic book movies. On Tuesday, I reviewed Valerian (based on a French comic book) and today, we are talking about Atomic Blonde!

IMDb summary: An undercover MI6 agent is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents.

Writing

The movie Atomic Blonde is based on a 2012 graphic novel ‘The Coldest City’ by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart. The screenwriter Kurt Johnstad (writer of the 300 movies) was the one who adapted this property. It was actually quite refreshing to see a film written by a single person rather than a group of screenwriters of varying experiences. And yet, the writing was still a mixed bag. I loved the main narrative and its structure – the story was presented in a flashback with the verbal exposition being given in an interrogation room. So, the plot was both told and shown. The set-up for the story and the decision to start it from almost the very end also helped to establish the main character. In the first seconds of her appearance, we realized her occupation, her relationships, and her vulnerabilities.

The spy-world was also well realized, with some of its details being quite fascinating. I loved how the film spotlighted the way spies deal with their lives, both physically and emotionally (ice baths, drinking, smoking). The historical tie-ins – the TV announcements about the state of Berlin Wall – were cool too and help to ground the movie. The ideas of spies deceiving each other and always having multiple ulterior motives were quite neat as well.

My few gripes with the film were a single logical flaw and the conclusion of the story. The thing that didn’t make much sense was the fact that James McAvoy’s character was trusted by others when he was obviously acting shady. Plus, the picture’s motto was ‘Never Trust Anyone’, so the fact that the characters turned a blind eye to his deceptions was kinda dumb. Secondly, the film’s story had a lot of twists and turns at the end, which were really heavily piled one on top of another. I wish that these reveals would have been given earlier or handled in different a way because it felt like the movie had multiple endings and didn’t know when to stop.

Directing

The longtime stunt coordinator, stuntman, and fight choreographer who recently transitioned into directing – David Leitch – helmed Atomic Blonde. His previous directing credits include the first John Wick (with Chad Stahelski), while his upcoming project is the Deadpool sequel. Not surprisingly, Atomic Blonde has been nicknamed online as the female version of John Wick and, while the comparison is valid, Atomic Blonde is also very much its own thing. It has its own cool action scenes, which were choreographed superbly and showcased fighters using a lot of everyday props rather than guns. The way these fight scenes were modified for someone, who is physically weaker (a female body) was interesting too. I also loved the car chases with all the old, now vintage, cars (no yellow Fast&Furious Lamborghinis here). 

The overall tone of Atomic Blonde was also really cool. I’d describe it as gritty glamor. The gritty part comes from the bloody action and the truthful depiction of the life of spies. The glamor could be seen in the costumes and the hairstyle of its lead – Charlize Theron had an impeccable look with her long, classic coats and platinum blonde hair. The cool color pallet added to the glamor too. The punk influences of 1989/1990s Berlin (the combo of grit and glamor) were also felt in the movie, from the locations of the underground clubs to the visuals of the graffiti on the wall. The soundtrack of the picture also emerged up from this general feel and tone. The composer of John Wick and Guardians of the Galaxy films, Tyler Bates, did a great job on the Atomic Blonde score, by mixing together 90s English and German songs as well as their more modern reworkings.

The director Leitch also did a brilliant job of filming the action in a variety of angles. Every trick in the book was used – from long panning shots and zoom ins/outs to close-ups to handheld shots with and without the cuts. That continuous action sequence in the apartment building was especially amazing. Genre wise, Atomic Blonde certainly felt more like a drama/thriller rather than just an action film. Its pacing wasn’t super fast – the movie didn’t really drag (except maybe the ending) but it never got as exciting as it could have been.

All in all, though I had some problems with the directing of the film, I enjoyed it overall and I still think that Leitch can nail Deadpool 2. We all know that he can deliver a magnificent action sequence, I just wonder whether he can do humor and comedy.

Acting

Atomic Blonde had quite a stellar cast. Charlize Theron (The Huntsman, Mad Max, FF8, Kubo) was front and center, demanding all the attention for the best reasons. She was amazing in the role, especially in its physical aspects (she did lots of stunts herself). James McAvoy (X-Men) was cool and creepy in his role. His persona in this film felt like just another personality of his character in SplitSofia Boutella (The Mummy, Star Trek, Kingsman) was also good, though her performance was brief. John Goodman (Kong, Trumbo), Eddie Marsan (Their Finest), and Toby Jones rounded out of the cast.

In short, Atomic Blonde is a very entertaining thriller that has a lot of cool aspects but also some minor flaws. Not a perfect film but definitely worth a watch.

Rate: 3.7/5

Trailer: Atomic Blonde trailer

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Captain America 1&2

Movie reviews

So recently, I started to get into superhero – comic book type movies. Right now I am watching all the Marvel universe ones and then I am going to move on to D.C. ones.

I have seen the first film (Captain America: The First Avenger) couple of months ago so I don’t remember all the details. However, I really enjoyed the fact that they connected this fantasy superhero story-line with true events a.k.a World War II.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier The script and writing for this movie were really good. I loved overall story-line and character development. I also enjoyed the fact that there was this really great connection between the 1st and 2nd movies; it gave a strong feeling of continuity. This was truly a sequel to a first movie and not just another action film with the same main character. I also loved the fact that, despite this being a fantasy movie, they showed a real life problem -massive governments control over all military equipment and misuse of personal information.

I also really enjoyed all the bromances: The new one between Steve and Sam was so nice. In my opinion, Sam is a great trustworthy friend that will always have Steve’s back. The closing shot practically gave away the fact that we are going to see this bromance continued to a 3rd film. “On your left” Another friendship that I really enjoyed was between Captain America and Winter Soldier/Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes. I loved the way they brought back the character of Bucky and once again showed us that Captain America fights for people and for his friends even if they are against him. “Cause I am with you till the end of a line”.
The pairing of Captain America and Black Widow was also fun and fresh.

The Shield and Hydra plot line was also very interesting and exciting. It showed us that we always need to be careful because the evil might lurk in the unexpected places. Speaking about the opening shot of the movie, did you know that Captain’s “to do” list is different in the all the countries movie is screened? The last 5 items are the same but first 5 are different. It is a nice detail and shout out to all the different countries. You can read all the different versions here: http://sploid.gizmodo.com/captain-americas-to-do-list-is-different-depending-on-1562463536

The Captain America 3 is planned to be released on May 6, 2016. My favorite video reviews: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8j-hFXaNkE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BicG3dDbbDA

UPDATE: Cap’s 3rd movie will be based on Civil War storyline and Robert Downey Jr. will join the cast as Iron Man.

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