Atomic Blonde (2017): A Stylishly Slick Action Flick With A Killer Sound… Trick [Track] (Review)

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[Credit: Universal Pictures]
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Based on the graphic novel The Coldest City by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart, Atomic Blonde follows Mi6 operative Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) as she’s sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of an agent and retrieve a priceless dossier containing the names of double agents. The film also stars James McAvoy, Sofia Boutella, Eddie Marsan, John Goodman and Toby Jones and is directed by David Leitch (John Wick).

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

From the moment I heard New Order’s “Blue Monday” playing right at the beginning of this film as something rather peculiarly violent was occurring, I was hooked. Atomic Blonde doesn’t shy away from depicting the violence that can be inflicted upon another human by using a number of everyday objects. As someone who is a lover of movies that know how to toe the line between beautifully executed depictions of violence and downright utter gutter trash (a la The Human Centipede), I admired Blonde’s ability to represent the former with a vast array of lovely head shots and one awe-inspiring skateboard demonstration.

Charlize Theron embodies the cool and ruthless Lorraine thanks to her composed demeanor and ridiculously impressive combat capabilities. While I felt her to be rather monotonous during certain instances, I enjoyed her overall character and thought she worked amazingly well with virtually every one of her co-stars. Truly the standout for me has to be James McAvoy who portrays the slimy yet oh so enticing agent David Percival flawlessly. All of his mannerisms from his proud Sinead O’Connor head rub to his occasional douchey sniffling fit well and added more to his character. Speaking of mannerisms, a particular one I loved and hope future films emulate is Lorraine’s habit of checking to see how many bullets are in a gun before she goes on a rampage. A girl’s gotta know if she’s got enough left in a stolen 9mm for the rest of the bad guys, of course!

[Credit: Universal Pictures]
While I remained intrigued with the overarching story and watching Lorraine maneuver her way around the various obstacles that have the unfortunate fate of being in her way, certain plot points of the film could have been explained a bit better. As much as I kept up with the code names and actual names being thrown around and espionagey occurrences, I ultimately struggled with an apparently major revelation that would’ve been much more impactful if I kind of understood what exactly happened during the instances leading up to that. 

Now the action sequences are absolutely incredible in Atomic Blonde and if more films of the action genre take note of it and your various John Wicks, we will return to the glory of unbelievably enjoyable action films that don’t have to rely on sudden jump cuts and loud noises to attempt to invigorate the audience. David Leitch co-directed the aforementioned 2014 surprise hit John Wick and with Blonde being his official directorial debut (not unless you count the hysterical Deadpool short that played ahead of Logan) one can tell if he sticks to it and sharpens his craft, he can easily be one of the best contemporary action directors. While I did enjoy most of the sequences, there were a few that succumbed to those dreaded quick jump cuts I despise. 

I honestly cannot praise the action sequences enough, they were remarkably enjoyable and any fan of witnessing some serious ass kicking should check Blonde out whenever you can. What elevated these sequences were the moments where Lorraine was seemingly down and out which not only showcased Theron’s incredible acting ability (as if you need any more proof), it gives a sense of realism to this world. There was one particular sequence wherein I remained absolutely giddy for which was a one-shot take involving Lorraine doing what she does best: not having enough time to take names because she’s too busy kicking ass. It’s a pretty impressive shot especially considering this is Leitch’s first major directing gig, however as he has done the stunt work on numerous films – including 1999’s Fight Club and winning a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble with his stunt crew for 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum (well deserved) –  he has been around phenomenal filmmakers for the better part of two decades… Yeah he knows his shit. 

How Were The Other Aspect Of Atomic Blonde?

Alright, let’s talk about this soundtrack. Every song utilized for each respective sequence was fantastic. The instances when it veered in and out of playing on a radio or headphones to the actual film were executed brilliantly and my only wish was that certain sequences lasted longer because the music worked so well with what was occurring on screen. As mentioned, Leitch’s direction is impressive for a solo full-length directorial debut, however there were a few quick jump cuts that I could’ve done without.

On a pure selfish note, I will say although I love the choice for the ending song on its own, why nobody thought it prudent to utilize Blondie’s song “Atomic” at least once in the whole film is cruel and unusual. THE NAME OF THE SONG AND ARTIST IS RIGHT THERE! WHY WOULDN’T YOU USE IT?!

[Credit: Universal Pictures]

If you’re looking for an action-packed and kick ass film with great performances and a spectacular soundtrack, check out Atomic Blonde.

Atomic Blonde receives 4/5 Matt Damon heads.

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featured image credit: Universal Pictures

Craving Some More Stupendous Ass Kickers?

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I recently wrote an article for Movie Pilot entitled 5 Bad-Ass Female Characters That Paved The Way For Charlize Theron’s Atomic Blonde and would love for you all to check it out if you’re so inclined!

 

Split (2017): A Spectacularly Terrifying Addition To The Comeback Of M. Night Shyamalan (Review)

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[Universal Pictures]
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Split tells the story of Kevin (James McAvoy), a man with 24 distinct personalities whose dangerously brute identity, Dennis, kidnaps three teenage girls. It also stars Betty Buckley and Anya Taylor-Joy and is directed by M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable)

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

Remember that scene in Hook when Pockets gives Peter a face-lift and says “oh THERE you are, Peter!” I want to go up to Shyamalan and declare “oh THERE you are, M. Night!” 2015’s The Visit was a great starting point for the man that brought us “What? No!” and if he keeps up this trajectory with Split and future projects, we are in for a Shyamalanaissance…

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TriStar Pictures | video source: movieclips.com, giphy

This movie simply does not work if James McAvoy is not up to task to portray such strong personalities. Not only was he terrifying at certain parts, he managed to create such distinguishable features for each identity, it was remarkable. During certain instances where one personality was attempting to be another one felt a bit muggy at times but to be fair, it is a wildly ambitious feat to attempt to achieve. I cannot sing the praises of McAvoy enough for his acting capability in Split. He portrays every identity brilliantly and plays off the other characters incredibly well. Anya Taylor-Joy of The Witch fame is fantastic and seeing those pivotal moments in her backstory interspersed throughout the film was a brilliant move. The flashbacks weren’t overused and one specific flashback just gutted me completely, I loved how each one added to her character because without them she would have just been a moody teenager. Her development was executed wonderfully and seeing the various parallels between her and Kevin truly enhanced the watch.

| Click Here For The Witch (2016) Review |

Haley Lu Richardson as Claire gave a pretty good performance whereas Jessica Sula could have been a bit better… By “a bit better” I mean like, a lot. Richardson and Taylor-Joy worked well off each other but unfortunately I felt Sula was on autopilot for most of it. Betty Buckley though was GREAT. I love her portrayal as Dr. Fletcher, you could truly feel the growing frustration she felt trying to convince people of the effects of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)… For all you Netflix fans too, the guard from Orange Is The New Black and Lucas from House Of Cards appear in Split.

How Were The Other Aspects To ‘Split’?

Split was probably one of my favourite movie theatre-going experiences, quite like Lights Out and Don’t Breathe last year. Since this is M. Night at his relative best, there were a few chuckles during certain instances that were meant to be humourous and other chuckles used as a defense mechanism for petrifying sequences on screen. In terms of the “horror” aspect to it, this is a genuinely scary movie. Besides the already petrifying concept that is kidnapping, Shyamalan manages to frame his camera movements so that your eye-line follows where he wants you to follow and the feeling of impending doom is absolutely imminent.

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There has also been controversy regarding the depiction of mental illness in Split. Anytime mental illness is involved in a film, it is imperative to strive to not overdo it or depict it in a way that is ridiculing the person suffering from the illness and for what it’s worth, I think the depiction of DID was executed just fine. The amazing performance by McAvoy is not ridiculing the illness at all and if anything, it truly adds to the complexities of his character… Side note: there is an incredible dance sequence that I did not expect at all. If this is the positive trajectory of where Shyamalan is headed, please keep this going, Movie Gods!

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If you’re looking for a psychological thriller to watch with a group of friends and want to feel genuinely terrified during certain instances, check out Split.

For More Beastly Fun, Check Out The Following:


Split receives 4/5 Matt Damon heads

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X-Men: First Class (2011)

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Erik Lehnsherr: Excuse me, I’m Erik Lehnsherr.
Charles Xavier: Charles Xavier.
Logan: Go fuck yourself.


Starring: Michael LadyBonerKing Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto, James McAvoy as Professor Charles Xavier, Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique and Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw, dir. Matthew Vaughn.

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Cinematographer: John Mathieson (Kingdom of Heaven, Gladiator, The Man from UNCLE)