Monday, July 31, 2017

Movie Review: "Atomic Blonde" (2017)

Director: David Leitch
Year: 2017
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes

An MI6 agent is asked to go to Berlin to retrieve a top secret list that has been stolen by a KGB operative. 

"Atomic Blonde" is directed by David Leitch. This is his first time directing a feature length film by himself, though he was an uncredited co-director of "John Wick." It is written by Kurt Johnstad, based on the graphic novel "The Coldest City" by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart. It stars Charlize Theron as MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton. It takes place in 1989 just prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. Lorraine is sent to Berlin to retrieve a list of Soviet field agents that was taken from a French operative by a rogue KGB agent. Joining her is James McAvoy as her MI6 field contact David Percival, who is supposed to guide her through Berlin. Also in the film are Sofia Boutella, John Goodman, Toby Jones, Bill SkarsgÄrd, and Eddie Marsan.

We have heard some critics call "Atomic Blonde" a female version of "John Wick," which to us is a bit of an erroneous comparison. It also may be a disservice to this film. Such a comparison may give viewers a certain expectation of what this movie should be, and they may be disappointed when it's not. Sure, there are a lot of tremendous action sequences similar to "John Wick" in terms of the way they are shot and choreographed, but that's really where the comparisons end. "Wick" is a balls-to-the-wall action revenge thriller, and "Atomic Blonde" is more of a mystery spy thriller with bouts of well-crafted action and glorious fighting sequences. When these moments of action do happen, they are fantastic and done well enough to keep the audience engaged, especially during the third act of the film when things really start to really pick up and get bloody. Charlize Theron is one badass actress. She plays her part with resounding conviction, though her character is muddled by the attempted twists in the story. James McAvoy is also a standout here as his dingy appearance and unconfirmed allegiance makes him a captivating character. These two actors are excellent.

This is a bit of a slower paced film, which is one of the problems we have with it. There are many moments when it drags on and on as it tries to set up a spy game of cat and mouse to see who will get the upper hand. There are many one-ups, twists, and turns, but we wish the mystery aspect had been more enthralling and unique. We found ourselves a little bored, though as we mentioned, it does pick up again in the third act. The color palette is very muted as the movie is set up in two parts: flashbacks and current day interrogations. The scenes washed in blues and grays happen on one side of the Berlin Wall and offer a cold tone to juxtapose the brighter, more neon pinks, greens, and aqua colors found on the other side of it. These bursts of color are sparse in comparison to the amount of muted tones. It might seem strange to say, but we think the difference in color added to the "blah-ness" feelings we felt midway through the movie. Luckily, there is a bitchin' 80's soundtrack that runs through the whole thing, and the way specific parts are set to specific songs enhances the viewing experience.

In the end, "Atomic Blonde" isn't as fantastic as we hoped it would be, but it is still a solid movie worth a watch if you're interested in such things. It's always fun to watch Charlize Theron kick major ass!

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~75%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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