ATOMIC BLONDE Review
It is not Female John Wick (as I read one fool predict before they even saw it), it's not John Blonde, it's not The Blonde Identity. It's all of them into a mixture with a style its own and a soundtrack, that while steeped in 80's, is not smashing you in the face with the 80's. Most soundtrack usage is remixed to a certain degree that takes the 80's time stamp out. Look and feel of the world gets the same treatment. We are in the 80's but it's not a cartoon version where everyone has side ponytails. Huge appreciation there since I am tired of that overused aesthetic. Charlize Theron leads here an is great in the lead role while commanding action sequences, taking an ass-kicking while also delving it out, and looking drop dead gorgeous during every second (yes, even the pic posted below. She STILL looks good). She also should be commended acting quietly, allowing her eyes to tell the majority of the tale. This is key because James McAvoy is a fucking madman in all the best ways. McAvoy continues to play fun roles, or making every role he takes into a fun performance. I am not quite sure which is true but kudos either way.
Direction by David Leitch is also on point as neon floods the film but never buzzes the eyes to look upon it. In a very hard world, the neon is surprisingly soft. The action sequences are easy to follow despite being intricate and it never overworks and calls attention to itself. That is always my biggest gripe in action films too. A messy camera can ruin a flow. It works in certain measures but this film was not needed and so an active, yet controlled camera was the right touch. With his work on the John Wick series, this should now come as no surprise but should also no less be applauded. Rounding out the players is Sofia Boutella, Toby Jones, and the always welcomed John Goodman. To get into their place among the plot could shed light where dark serves best so, I will just say that I enjoyed the trio in their spots and Boutella challenges Theron for steaming up the screen which in itself is an achievement. Goodman is the sexiest though. You know that though. While the three serve well, they are a bit under explained in spots in order to serve a mystery. Some will find that as a negative and I can see why. You will have a hurdle concecting with the other cogs of the machine. Personally, I was fine with it. The main cast stirred the pot enough to keep me going.
My only irk would be the plot itself which, on the overall surface, has been done so many times that when I heard the phrase "list of every secret agent in the world", (or roundabouts) I sort of chuckled. Mission Impossible has built a franchise based on this notion and it appears here as well. The graphic novel that ATOMIC BLONDE is based on, The Coldest City, was first published in 2012 so you can't defend it by claiming territory previously owned. Hell, the first MI film did not break ground there either. Regardless, that idea, while it is the driving point of the plot, is also kept rather in the shadows because to do more would spoil some intrigue. So with a rather unengaging plot line, till the last 20 minutes or so, we are left with Theron and McAvoy doing the heavy-lifting amidst Leitch's word of spies. Those three elements were more than enough to keep the yarn from a yawn though and in the end we have a well toned, closefisted, smart played espionage film that I feel is worth an afternoon at the cinema.