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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Atomic Blonde

I believe it is going to be a good year for both television and movies. Times are changing and there has been a marked change in the gender gap. For the first time in the history of television, a woman has been cast as the ‘Doctor’. That’s right folks, BBC announced that the 13th Doctor will be played by Jodie Whittaker of Broadchurch fame. Which got everyone talking, is it also time for a female Bond? Why not? A girl can dream at least. But before anything of that actually happens, I take the pleasure in thinking that Lorraine Broughton IS the female 007. And I am talking about Charlize Theron’s latest action spy thriller film – Atomic Blonde.

Directed by David Leitch, the film is based on the graphic novel The Coldest City. Lorraine Broughton is an MI6 agent, asked to retrieve a top secret list naming all the undercover agents on the eve of the fall of the Berlin Wall. There is the MI6, there is KGB, there is CIA and Lorraine has to manoeuvre all of them to get to the list. Well, that is basically the plot in a nutshell. To be honest, the storyline isn’t the strong suit of the movie, the asset is – Charlize Theron. Atomic Blonde shines simply because it has been one of the most unconditionally entertaining action movies of the year. Because when the action sets in, you almost forget the careless storyline and script.

Theron is very much the centre of attention of the movie; without her the film would have sunk without a trace. Lorraine Broughton is less of a character but more of an attitude. Not a lot is revealed about Broughton’s person life except for a past and present fling. But it is thrilling to see her in action, because she is really, really good at her job – beating the crap out of people. Or we can be subtle and say hand to hand combat. She is the neon lit warrior and this is where Leitch’s stylish filmmaking catches the eye. All of the shots are something to savour which ranges from the garish luminous colours of a West Berlin bar; the suffocating despair of an East Berlin neighborhood; splendid chase sequences amidst a chaotic protest in East Berlin. The movie further seats into the time period with the synth score and a soundtrack of recognizable ’80s hits that accompany virtually every scene in the movie. I enjoy a good electro pop and I have been blaring Health’s rendition of Blue Monday ever since I saw the movie.

Atomic Blonde has some remarkably good one-on-one combat scenes in which Theron establishes some serious martial arts chops. This is especially evident in the film’s best scene: a ten-minute long fight in an apartment building; the flawless editing makes it look like a single shot. Lorraine battles a team of Russian agents and it’s an impressive fight scene because it is choreographed to perfection and so fluent in its movement. It is shot valiantly, as it becomes a remarkable lesson because it acknowledges just how hard fighting someone to death must be. By the final stretch of this real-time brawl, Theron and her opponents are noticeably battered, panting, unsteady on their feet, and frequently backing away from each other to catch their breath. Theron stated that she worked out with 8 trainers prior to the shooting of the movie and each one of them “made her puke” after the intense workout sessions.

The violence might seem a little staggering at times, but it is a necessary evil for this type of movie. The audience sees Lorraine with her battle wounds, examining her naked form in front of a mirror, under a neon blue light. She soaks in an ice bath after a terribly intense battle that accurately depicts what it feels like to be a woman in this field.  With its big guns, hard punches, immaculately chic clothes, and beautiful people, a nostalgic soundtrack that puts the audience in a trance and the whole affair in funky neon ’80s fluorescence, Atomic Blonde makes for the perfect late-July blockbuster.

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