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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 07.27.17] action thriller crime



It seems like every few years the action genre gets an infusion of new blood. In the 80s it was Jackie Chan and his crazy stunts, in the 90s it was John Woo's Hong Kong cinema. In 2006 Neveldine and Taylor blew our minds with Crank and 2011 brought us The Raid: Redemption which seems to have kick-started a return to balls-to-the wall action culminating in John Wick, its sequel and now Atomic Blonde.


Based on Antony Johnston's "Atomic Blonde: The Coldest City" graphic novel series, the movie stars Charlize Theron as Lorraine Broughton, an MI6 agent sent to Berlin in final weeks before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Her mission is to track down an informant, code mane "Spyglass," who is in possession of a list of active field agents, among them a double agent. Her contact on the ground is Percival (James McAvoy), a lone operative who has been working the Berlin office for a decade and who British Intelligence thinks may have gone rogue.


Broughton is made as soon as she walks out of the airport in West Berlin. She's picked up by the Russians which kicks off an intricate game of manoeuvring and double-crossing. This is very much your typical Cold War spy movie but with a dash of style and insane action. Director David Leitch has referred to it as "Neon Noir." It is a an apt description.



A long time second unit director and action choreographer, Leitch's skills lend themselves beautifully to Atomic Blonde which plays out like an action opera. The sequences move the story along, they inform the characters and perhaps most importantly, they feel real. The characters get hurt, they bruise, they tire, the run out of ammo. They hesitate, miscalculate and make mistakes. Having one or two of those in a movie is not unusual but seeing it all together is refreshing.


Theron has always been a physical actress, her award winning role in Monster is as transformative as anything she's done since, and though she's not new to the action genre, with the one-two punch of Mad Max: Fury Road and now this, she's cemented herself as a bonafide action superstar. She also happens to be a great actress who can convey depths with a single look which works to her advantage in Atomic Blonde as so much of the movie is without exposition.


Though it has a few stand-out sequences, the apartment scene and the stairwell fight are particularly notable, Atomic Blonde starts taking names almost immediately and doesn't stop until the credits roll. Throw in some amazing set design and costuming (the big, off-the-shoulder sweaters made me long for 80's) not to mention one of the best 80's soundtracks not of the 80's and you've got yourself a kick-ass movie.


It's not without its problems; notably some of the plotting and double-crossing spy business is needlessly convoluted and the final scene seems unnecessary, definitely cool but unnecessary, and you've got yourself a fantastic new spy. I'm all in for this franchise.



Recommended Release: Atomic Blonde: The Coldest City


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Genius (2 months ago) Reply

none of the fighting she does would work in real life, her body is to small. It's not like she is trying to blind her opponents.
Amazing fight scenes though.
Any of these guys could just grab her throw her to the ground and break her neck.
Great Action Film.

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Username (optional) (2 months ago) Reply

# "her body is too small"
Ignorant people said that about Bruce Lee, too.

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Genius (2 months ago) Reply

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moron I was in Jeet Kune Do and multiple Martial Arts kung fus
She would be crushed in a real situation. This isn't the movies.
She would have crush her opponents Adams apple, or blind them. All that stuff in the movies is not happening.
A guy that is way bigger then her could rush her from the side and take her down with his weight. Please remember this is entertainment not reality.
In combat fighting is distance, it takes one slip up fighting multiple people to end your life.

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marck (2 months ago) Reply

The average movie goer, who at best has a very tenuous grasp of reality, sees this nonsense and
probably believes these feats of athleticism are actually possible...with enough training.

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Wumpus (2 months ago) Reply

I don't think this is intended to be a documentary...


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