Monday, 14 August 2017

'Atomic Blonde' Review

Everybody moans that every action or big budget film now is a sequel, reboot or part of a franchise in some way. Despite being based on a graphic novel, 'Atomic Blonde' looks to offer a new, fresh and vibrant story to the action genre whilst kicking a lot of ass along the way. With Charlize Theron on board, the film certainly fulfills the latter.

Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is a secret agent working for the MI6 who is willing to use any skill or weapon to stay alive during any mission. With the Berlin Wall about to fall, Lorraine must travel to the German capital to retrieve a priceless dossier that is vital to the government. With a few allies, Lorraine must do whatever it takes in order to succeed and survive in her latest mission.

Based on the graphic novel 'The Coldest City', 'Atomic Blonde' is the solo directorial debut from former stuntman and stunt coordinator David Leitch. Leitch has come into fame in recent years with his work in 'John Wick' that has received many plaudits for its sleek look and tremendous action scenes. It comes to no surprise that 'Atomic Blonde' at times seems like what the female version of 'John Wick' would look like.

Leitch's background working with stunt work is yet again clear as 'Atomic Blonde' is filled with many brutal yet brilliant action scenes. Leitch clearly knows how action should be shot, using long continuous takes to make everything seem as realistic as possible whilst maintaining that the viewer can easily see everything that is going on. These techniques were highly successful in the 'Wick' series so far and that has transcended into 'Atomic Blonde'. This is most evident in the truly brilliant stairwell scene where the editing helps keep up this illusion of one continuous shot in what is the best action scene of the year. The action is brutal and inventive as the characters use any object available to them to get the upper hand whilst keeping a feel of realism during the fight scenes. 

There is a slight noir feeling to this film as it the settings are mainly kept bleak whilst occasionally being lit up with neon colours. This gives the film a really sleek look which helps give the film an identity to stand out from many others. From a visual stand point, the film is a joy to look at and everything from the cast, costume, and lighting really helps make this possible. The film has a real sexy vibe to it that adds another layer to the film. Charlize Theron is completely enigmatic in her role where she truly glows which helps bring a new dimension to another action film. Her physical acting in the action scenes is to be admired as it always makes a difference seeing the real actor/actress involved in the big action scenes. Theron certainly will have picked up some injuries from her work as she truly commits to her role.

Although there are some great points and moments about this film, the problems lay heavily with the script. The story is convoluted and filled to the brim with plot points that are all over the place. The film clearly has the ambition to try to be this clever, intricate story that ultimately misses the mark. There is simply too much information and plot lines that the film tries to show and convey which become all muddled up throughout the 115-minute runtime. Due to this, you often forget about most of these elements as they are briefly mentioned or introduced but are then not talked not about again for a long period. There is some decent conflict within the film with the shady nature of the characters leading to some unpredictability in their actions. But there isn't enough of this as the film bounces between different plots surrounding different characters which are simply too complicated within the short time they are given.

It doesn't help that there is an abundance of characters that lack any quality that makes them remotely interesting. As previously mentioned, Theron is fantastic as his her co-star James McAvoy who plays a sleazy untrustworthy ally whose character and relationship should have been explored more to create a greater conflict. With there being so many characters, there is a great lack of emotion or feeling to them. Apart from Theron, you don't really root for any of the allies as you don't know anything about them. There also isn't a villain to detest which would lead to an intriguing yet entertaining climax to the film. Instead, it's just a lot of random faces that you are not invested in at all. Sofia Boutella's character Delphine seems to be the exception as there is development with her character and you actually care about how she progresses as the film goes on. We see a human side to her which makes you take an interest in her which shows that the scriptwriters were more than capable of creating interesting characters that you will care for. Unfortunately, this only happened a few times.

The soundtrack features many great 80s hits from the likes of Eurythmics, Nena and Depeche Mode that do install an 80s feeling to the film. However, the track list does seem very out of place at times, especially in regard to the tone of the film. The likes of 'I Ran' from A Flock of Seagulls felt very out of place during a car chase in what seemed to be a dramatic and serious part of the movie. The tones certainly didn't mix well which made some of the songs feel entirely out of place. With the recent successes of films such as 'Guardians' and 'Baby Driver', it seems like the film felt the best way to get success out of some action scenes was to blare a recognisable pop song alongside it. 'Atomic Blonde' is very different to these in regards to tone so it is no wonder that this same use of music was not nearly as successful.

Sleek, sexy and full of great action, yet 'Atomic Blonde' doesn't reach its full potential, meaning that the film will only be remembered as simply a decent action flick.

Final Verdict: 

So have you seen 'Atomic Blonde'? If so, what did you think of the film? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing the film or not. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor

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