Sunday, 13 August 2017

#62 ATOMIC BLONDE


Starring Charlize Theron, James McAvoy,  John Goodman, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, Sofia Boutella and James Faulkner. Written by Kurt Johnstad (based on the graphic novel The Coldest City by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart). Directed by David Leitch. Running time: 115 minutes. Budget $30 million.

The plot sees Charlize Theron’s Lorraine Broughton running round East and West Berlin, willy-nilly in those heady, pre-collapse days of 1989 in the company of ‘gone native’ MI6 agent David Percival (James McAvoy) in search of yet another list of every single allied agent in the world, e-VER, which has been hidden in a mirco dot hidden inside a watch that was worn by her now-dead lover, James Gasciogne who was killed by the KGB. Now everybody on both sides of the wall wants that list and are willing to beat, bribe, bully, bludgeon or just plain kill anyone who gets in their way. But Lorraine has more reason that most, she wants revenge and find the mole in MI6 who’s been leaking classified secrets to the enemy.

After that it’s a dizzying sprint through the streets of Berlin accompanied by a smorgasbord of classic 80s hits as our blonde bombshell dispatches anyone and everyone, be it by fist, foot, high-heeled stiletto, pistol or snog. And the good news is, if you’ve seen the trailer than you’ve not seen the whole film, just most of it!

This is a stylish and exceedingly well fight-choreographed orgy of violence and style over content, that is sadly undone by its utterly poe-faced lead, who cracks a smile only once throughout the whole thing. Now, I wasn’t expecting a laugh riot, but a sense of humour, even a black one, would have made this a much more enjoyable romp, as would giving us, the audience, a little bit more to work with. All the way through this we get the sense that Lorraine is 4 steps ahead of us and everyone else for that matter and after a while that becomes a little tedious and you soon find yourself just coasting along waiting for the next bone jarring fight or car chase, which oddly enough isn’t that often. Although the highlight of which is a blistering ‘one-shot, one take’ stairwell fight between Charlize and at least 4 KGB agents that is simply, and staggeringly superb.

The film barrels along, ticking off all the spy film bingo boxes and never missing a beat as we discover who the mole, codenamed Satchel really is. Although by the end of this you might, like me, be a bit confused. Theron is excellent, this is obviously a project she was very committed to, in fact all the cast are great, although poor old Sofia Boutella perhaps deserved better.

And yet oddly enough despite a kick-ass premise, some superb action and fight scenes, some raunchy moments and some great violence, this never really went off for me. It was alright but I never really engaged with it.

I was hoping for more, maybe the beginning of a female John Wick franchise and maybe that was my downfall because ultimately this was intended to be more, a mix of the classic spy drama, like Tinker, Sailor, Soldier, Spy and Bourne, but without the vomit-inducing shaky-cam bollox. It's directed by David Leitch, who was the uncredited co-directed John Wick and he's clearly showing he has an extraordinary talent for hi-octane, hard-hitting action flicks and long may he reign!

The trailer promised far more than the end product could deliver but this was still an entertaining and satisfying action romp and proves that Charlize Theron is one kick-ass action heroine!

7/10

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