Monday, August 28, 2017


From the moment I saw the first trailer for ATOMIC BLONDE I knew I was going to see the film. First of all, I love Charlize Theron and will watch her in almost anything. She's beautiful, talented and completely captivating on screen and this would be far from the first film in which she had proved herself as an action hero. Hell - she was arguably the star of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.

The preview trailer for ATOMIC BLONDE made it clear that the movie was going to be an action filled cross between John Wick (with whom this film shares a director) and the James Bond movies. As far as spy thrillers go this one is a throwback in more than one way. First of all, plot-wise it is very old school. Hell - the plot actually involves the recovery of microfilm and even in a movie set in 1989 that's a story point that perhaps was out-of-date by even 1985. But as with any good James Bond film the McGuffin is hardly the point. We are here for several reasons, none of which involve microfilm or paper documents or anything else that the hero may actually be hunting for. We're here to revel in dark characters, interesting situations and - above all - stylish, exciting action. Luckily this film succeeds on that count easily.

Theron plays Lorraine Brown, an MI6 operative who just has just returned from Berlin and as she is debrief by her handler Toby Jones and a mysterious CIA figure played by John Goodman she explains how she may or may not have succeeded in her most recent assignment. Since we've already seen how bruised and battered she is after this little German adventure we're already interested to see just how everything went down. Watching Theron as this world weary agent trying to stay on task amide multiple nefarious players with clashing agendas is incredibly entertaining for me. One of the things I love about espionage tales is seeing the harsh price paid by field agents who often have to trust their instincts as well as their training to survive deadly encounters. Shifting loyalties, questionable motives, bad choices and hidden desires can alter the calculus of a situation for the worse leaving only seconds to decide on the correct option. ATOMIC BLONDE takes the spy thriller back to the days of more carefully plotted, dark stories that refuse to spoon feed the audience the pieces that the main character is struggling to understand right along side of us. I found that refreshing and maybe it's enough of a throwback to raise eyebrows and interest in modern viewers.

There's been a lot of talk over the past few years about doing some interesting casting in the James Bond franchise with the idea of Idris Elba possibly taking the role. I doubt that will ever happen (no matter how much I'd love to see it) but I would say that this film is probably the starting point for a parallel female James Bond series. Theron is excellent in the lead, the supporting cast is fantastic and the period detail is phenomenal all the way down to the smart choices made in the soundtrack. I'm sure there is an actual score written for this film somewhere in the mix but all I can remember are the mood setting songs from the  1970's and 1980's that set everything in place and push the story forward in interesting ways. Much like this summer's  Edgar Wright film BABY DRIVER, ATOMIC BLONDE uses songs as an integral part of it's storytelling effort. They aren't just there to set the scene and to remind you of the time. They actually become an important part of the storytelling, showing you why and how characters are acting and thinking in the ways they are. ATOMIC BLONDE isn't the best movie I saw this summer but it was damn good and it's one that I know I will enjoy revisiting many times in the future. Fingers crossed for a sequel!

1 comment:

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

I gave this one a so so review but I can't get that last line by John Goodman out of my head. Knowing what he said changes the way you watch the film for the second time and it's so much better the second time. It's acquires a laser focus that is not always apparent the first time through. Charlize can do no wrong with me.