Look at me, back again with more movie reviews! There’s always a busy time of the year when it seems like there’s a new movie we want to see every week, and it seems like this is that time. Today we’re going to talk about another one that I was really excited for: Atomic Blonde, which is based on the graphic novel The Coldest City. No spoilers ahead, so let’s jump right in.
I’d like to start by saying how much I am loving all the kickass ladies we’ve been getting this year. As someone who likes movies in the comic book and action genres (among others), it’s great to see some awesome female characters. Real characters, not a sexy sidekick/sidechick/damsel in distress. Laura/X-23 and Diana/Wonder Woman have been two of the biggest ones so far, and now we have Lorraine Broughton. We need to keep making this happen, folks!
Anyway, on to the movie. Atomic Blonde is directed by David Leitch, co-director of the first John Wick film, director of the upcoming Deadpool 2, and a veteran of stunt work and stunt coordinating. So that sounds pretty cool on paper, right? Well, it’s also pretty frickin’ cool on screen too. I had so much fun with this movie and there’s a lot I want to talk about.
Okay, I’m going to talk about the soundtrack first, given that it’s the thing mentioned most often in my notes. The story is set in the days leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall, so the music is all appropriately, gloriously, egregiously 80’s dance/pop. I loved it so much. I mean, it also served to set up the time period and the locations really well, too. I’m not going to sell it short in that regard. The soundtrack is fantastic, there’s not much else to say.
Also fantastic is the cast. Charlize Theron is ferocious in this movie as Broughton, a veteran MI6 agent. She’s amazing to watch, whether she’s taking down a whole crew of baddies in a stairwell, or talking to her superiors back in London. No one else in the cast is slouching, either. James McAvoy is another fascinating watch in this, as are Sofia Boutella, John Goodman, Toby Jones, and Bill Skarsgard (who we’ll see later on this year as Pennywise the Clown), among others.
In a film like this, the big question is the action, which is warranted given how central it is to the genre. For how slick the film looks, the fights are dragged-out and dirty in comparison. It’s not pretty fighting, stylish yes, but no fancy flips or kicks or outlandish stuff. John Wick was 95% headshots, Atomic Blonde is mainly hand-to-hand, often using whatever is available as a weapon. It’s not overly gory or graphic (there’s only one instance I can think of where someone’s brain matter repainted a wall), but it doesn’t skimp either. And even better, there’s no tropey wounds either. Lorraine doesn’t end up with the fashionable cheek cut, or any of that crap. In one particularly nasty fight, both her and her opponent are legitimately bruised, bloody, and exhausted by the end. When do you see that? People actually getting realistically tired and hurt in a fight? Not often enough.
In conclusion, go see Atomic Blonde. Think of it as a James Bond story with a John Wick look. It has a fascinating setting, a story I’m purposely not talking about to avoid spoiling all the twists and turns, and a great cast. Its super fun and I definitely recommend it.
PS: the reviews don’t stop here! We are T-minus 2 days until The Dark Tower. So, for good or ill, expect a review for that sometime not long after!