You should go see Atomic Blonde. You should go see Atomic Blonde, once you see Wonder Woman, Baby Driver, Spider-Man: Homecoming, War For the Planet of the Apes, and Dunkirk. Yeah. In any other year without such “nerd” superiority — seeing how this one’s an adaptation of Antony Johnston and Sam Hart’s The Coldest City graphic novel via Oni Press — Atomic Blonde would be one of the year’s most infectious “geek” films. Charlize Theron masters every scene she’s in as Lorraine Broughton, a smokey cool sorta female John Wick (directed by David Leitch, who also not ironically co-directed the Keanu Reeves tentpole). If you’re a big fan of Theron, who was this SDCC’s sole focus for the Con’s annual “Women Who Kick Ass Panel” (to which I highlight following the review), then you’ll love this film.
The supporting cast is quite enjoyable, as well, with lots of James McAvoy (a.k.a. Charles Xaver), John Goodman, Toby Jones a.k.a. Arnim Zola, Eddie Marsan, and a sweet performance from Star Trek Beyond/The Mummy hottie, Sofia Boutella, Broughton’s spy-bae Delphine. Regardless of the super-fun ensemble and McAvoy’s hard-drugged/hard-haircutted David Percival, this is a Theron film first and foremost. She chews up every scene like she wrote it, continuing the legacy of “Furiosa”; Theron puts herself in some serious vulnerability with some of the most ballsy, hyper-intense hand-to-hand combat witnessed on the silverscreen. She sells more shots to the face and takes riskier bumps in one East Berlin staircase brawl than a match in New Japan’s G1 Climax. It was a pure delight rockin’ n rollin’ in my 4DX chair — not to my neck, trapezius muscles, or pulse, mind you, to the film’s fervent action, hands clenched on my armrests, contacts sprayed with mist — during Atomic Blonde‘s soon to be infamous “Heat/Daredevil/Kingsman” moment. You’ll know it when you see it.
The plot is.. cool. Lorraine’s a Stolichnaya-on-the-rocks chugging (triple?) MI6 agent who must curb several double agents on her road to “list” recovery. The stolen list of undercover ops involves a watch/a microfilm/and the guy from Ray Donovan (Chris Jericho would be proud). It’s enough of a story for Leitch’s hyper-stylized and hyper-violent graphic novel approach and certainly has the right dame for the job; Broughton even owns with a g-damn garden hose(!). That said, figuring out the director’s approach was no easy task. Atomic Blonde is tonally all over the place, often playing off like the present despite a clear-cut set dressing and ambitious 80s New Wave soundtrack reminiscent of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. The film also feels more appreciated for its own intense, singular scenes–and scenary–than itself as a whole. There’s a handful of moments that’ll certanly rock your world (even your jaw), but the 4DX experience was a lot more lax at length than, say, Wonder Woman.
This “four-dimensional” theater experience just mentioned (that plays like a highly enjoyable, albeit slightly tamer version of Disney’s Star Tours) kept quiet until someone on-screen threw a punch, a glass or a corkscrew. Car chase scenes are rivetting and fully immersive. Still, the nearly full Friday night LA audience seemed to lose their shit during every major fight sequence that heaved, rolled, and pitched them around their motion chairs; so the colder moments of The Coldest City adaptation may not have been an issue. If you never witnessed a film in 4DX, having your neck snapped around to Theron snapping necks is not a bad first date. And if you watched all the films mentioned in the first line of this review, you mind as well go and add Atomic Blonde to “The List”, too. Film = 3.5/5 Bibles.
Highlights from the Women Who Kick Ass: Icon panel:
- Every year at San Diego Comic-Con 2017, Entertainment Weekly‘s “Women Who Kick Ass” panel has the unfortunate task of following the bright lights, Bats, Harrison Fords and Steven Spielbergs of Warner Bros’ opening Hall H presentation — to which many of the 7000 pop-culture adoring geeks in attendance had just camped out 1 (or even 2) days to enjoy. Lone star Charlize Theron owned it like there was no tomorrow. While a few of the fans in attendance used the time to grab food, sleep or scale the leaderboard status in Clash of Clans, there’s no doubt that the sheer raw intensity of the Atomic Blonde footage stole everyone’s attention. Above all, Theron loved how unapologetic (and unrelying on a man) her character was, a cinematic rarity. “[Lorraine] had the ability to live and breathe in a world where she could play by the same rules that men get to play all the time,” Theron said. “That was something that I really loved.”
- Theron also admired Wonder Woman‘s box office success that has now opened up more economic possibilities for leading actresses; she was also completely fine with men — be it Daniel Craig or Idris Elba — sticking to any imminent roles of 007; and she also claimed that she’s ready, now at 42-years young, for George Miller’s rumored Furiosa-centered Mad Max sequel. Please! Yes! Thank you!
- On the MMA/Pro Wrestling level of the film’s super-intense fight cinematography, Theron had to fight off more than her own doubts, including feeling so sore she had trouble sitting on a toilet. “Every move that we had, I was annoyingly always asking ‘Can a girl do that?’” both to the stunt coordinators and herself. She also claimed what they set out to do my have seemed “impossible”, but she still “wanted to make [Atomic Blonde] as bad ass as [it turned out] and not have anybody come up and say ‘A girl can’t do that.’” Hey, if the soundtrack isn’t enough to do it for you, Theron’s fight sequences — using, as quoted, all knees, elbows and female body weight — are likely worthy of a Blu Ray purchase alone. SDCC Panel = 4/5 Bibles.