Gisell Says ATOMIC BLONDE Is A Razor-Sharp And Entertaining Thriller

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FILM REVIEW: ATOMIC BLONDE

BY GISELL BUTLER

Atomic Blonde is based on the graphic novel The Coldest City by Antony Johnston, which was published in 2012. The story is a spy-thriller and occurs around the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Although I’ve never read the novel, its author is credited as a co-producer on this film, so I imagine he did oversee some aspects of the story, in order to keep it authentic as possible. The screenplay, written by Kurt Johnstad (300, Act of Valor) and director, David Leitch (John Wick, Deadpool 2), a man of many talents, who has dipped his toes in the vast array of jobs in Hollywood, doing everything from: stunt work, acting, producing, directing, and writing, have both fused their styles together to bring the graphic novel roaring to life. Led by the photographic vision of cinematographer, Jonathan Sela (John Wick, Law Abiding Citizen, Max Payne) and a musical score by Tyler Bates (John Wick, Watchmen, 300) with an eargasm-inducing soundtrack, featuring musicians like: David Bowie, George Michael, Marilyn Manson, and The Clash, you can’t help but love the overall product of this film.

The story at its most basic level is quite simple, but Theron amplifies it, as well as the film, by her performance alone, making her portrayal as “Lorraine”, a white-hot spy/assassin, whom is cold as ice, yet vulnerable in a sea of spies, a memorable one. She’s an empowered woman, whom levels the playing field with the men and she assumes this mantle dutifully, pushing herself past her own limits, while showcasing her abilities to the fullest in her stunt work, physicality, stamina, body language, and voice. This film is a slow burn, and in the beginning, we find Lorraine (Charlize) is being questioned and detained by a team of MI6 superiors and the CIA, whom are wanting more information in regards to her latest mission in Berlin, which appears to have gone sideways. A confidant of Lorraine’s (who is also an agent) gets killed because he was in possession of a classified list of double agents. Lorraine’s mission is to retrieve the list and find the Russians who last were in its possession, while entrusting herself to Percival (McAvoy) to help her while she’s stationed there. The story is relayed from Lorraine in the interview, and the story cuts back and forth from past to present in piecing the story together. Theatergoers might expect the film to start with Charlize kicking down doors, but this story builds slowly, carefully setting up crucial information that you must know before reaching its tinderbox culmination in the third act.

Many make comparisons between this film and John Wick, and while there might be some similarities as far as its style (Keanu and Charlize even trained for their roles together at the same gym and the director worked as a co-director on Wick), we don’t see Lorraine going on a rampage from the very beginning. Things take a bit more time, because the film needs to lay out the groundwork, but be patient, good things come to those who wait. By the end of the film, if you’re not walking out of the movie feeling like you were put through the ringer along with Charlize (thanks to some incredibly, grueling fight scenes as well as some creatively, raw camerawork) then I absolutely envy your hardy nature.

Also, as a big fan of the recent Wonder Woman film, I really enjoyed seeing Charlize as a bottle-rocket of energy, doling out justice via a lasso of rope, that she uses to throttle bad guys left and right. But that’s not all, she makes creative use of things that are at her disposal, including her own high heels. In essence, she truly feels like a comic book character brought to life. Another major stylistic addition to this film is the costuming by Cindy Evans. Everyone is in fishnets, off-the-shoulder T’s, studded jackets, colorful mohawks, and the fashion of that time, is very late 80’s/early 90’s, but Evans did a great job of making the wardrobe feel uniquely modernized. Charlize looks atomically fierce as Lorraine, with her platinum blonde hair, long coats, slinky dresses, and knee-high boots with an interchangeable gun, shot of Stolichnaya, or cigarette in hand. I loved the aesthetic details throughout this movie. Everything from the tone, colors, costumes, hair, makeup, and accessories, really underscored the film’s precision with setting up its own unique world reflected in its story. The film was also shot on location in parts of Hungary and Germany, including Berlin, which adds credibility and beauty to the film’s backdrop. Atomic Blonde is a chromatic compound of pleasure with an enticing finish, making this film a super-stylish endeavor which delivers a razor-sharp, entertaining, thriller that audiences will revel in.

 

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