CAN SHE DO THAT?
Film Review by Fiore
ATOMIC BLONDE attempts to provide women with their own version of JOHN WICK. Charlize Theron ensnarls the role of Lorraine Broughton, a top-rate spy during the end of the Cold War. Theron is not handling aging well. She has abandoned glamorous roles, and is opting for characters immersed in the Woman Warrior Agenda. She ruined Tom Hardy’s stint as Mad Max in MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, and now seems intent on showing up Keanu Reeves. ATOMIC BLONDE works, not because of Theron, but for the efforts of James McAvoy and John Goodman. Their performances help you forget some of the bizarre items Theron’s performance would have you believe; like her ability to toss around 250lb KGB agents.
The movie is shown in flashback. A battered and bruised Lorraine is brought before a clandestine tribunal to account for a botched assignment. It is 1989, and President Ronald Reagan is urging Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the wall dividing Berlin. As the wall crumbles, a list of top espionage operatives across the globe is purloined by a rogue KGB agent, and placed on the market to the highest bidder. Lorraine is tasked with finding and securing the list for MI-6. Her contact in Berlin is David Percival, played by McAvoy. Neither of the agents trust the other and the uneasy relationship complicates the mission.
Starring with Theron and McAvoy are: John Goodman as Emmett Kurzfeld, a CIA department head; Eddie Marsan as Spyglass, a key element in the delivery of the list; and Sofia Boutella as Delphine Lasalle, a French intelligence agent. Sofia was most recently seen as Ahmanet, in Tom Cruise’s THE MUMMY.
1.1 KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:
1. SAVING EDDIE MARSEN
2. RUSSIAN SUITE
3. THE SEDUCTION
Editor Elisabet Ronaldsdottir does a credible job in keeping ATOMIC BLONDE under two hours. There is, however, still a hole in Act Two which drags to the point of making the movie seem longer than it is. There is a lesbian love affair between Lorraine and Delphine which serves no purpose, other than to keep the male audience interested. It’s pretty hot stuff, but definitely not necessary to the plot.
Jonathan Sela heads the camera crew. He worked on JOHN WICK, so many of the action sequences carry a familiar appearance. In fact, a plethora of the technical crew worked on the JOHN WICK film, so many of the battles, including the gun fights, will look recognizable.
In all honesty, I should explain my scorn at the current Woman Warrior trend in Tinseltown. I can easily accept women besting bigger, stronger men if they are superheroes, genetically enhanced, vampires or alien cyborgs. Can’t accept anything else. During all my years in martial arts competition, I have encountered possibly three women who could hold their own in a fight with a man. I didn’t say win, but at least look decent during the fight. I’ve been out of the fight game for decades, and perhaps things have changed. That said, Sela and Production Designer David Scheunemann do a credible job in making Theron look like see can hang. Her battles using furniture, hardware fixtures and corkscrews are all viable; but her hand to hand fights border on the comical. I realize these sequences are placed in films so women, and girls can feel good about themselves and strengthen their feelings of independence; but at some point, reality is stretched too far, turning action to humor.
Let’s take a look at the report card for ATOMIC BLONDE
1.2 ACTING = B
1.3 CINEMATOGRAPHY = B
1.4 SOUND/MUSIC = A
1.5 EDITING = C
1.6 LIGHTING = C
1.7 SCRIPT = D
1.8 SFX = B
ACTION = B
ATOMIC BLONDE offers a great sound track, with the possible exception of the insipid "99 Red Luftballoons" tune. A movie hasn’t opened with David Bowie’s “Putting Out Fire” since Natasha Kinski’s version of CAT PEOPLE.
The script, by Kurt Johnstad is not bad, but really borrows from trite templates. The spy list is overdone, the girl on girl action is overplayed and the conclusion is overwrought with twists. In the latter aspect, it simply tries too hard.
If you can let the ridiculous fight scenes slide, ATOMIC BLONDE is not a bad action flick. It is easier to believe a woman can knock out a man twice her size with a sink, than with a front kick. Even Cynthia Rothrock never did that. The film is rated R, and contains extensive violence, sex, nudity and language only a drunken sailor should use, so please, keep the kiddies at home. Ladies, I think you’ll like this one. Guys, if you have to sit through a chick flick, better this than anything by Nicholas Sparks.