Atomic Blonde

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Atomic Blonde 2017

Atomic Blonde is a 2017 American action thriller spy film starring Charlize Theron. The film is based on the 2012 graphic novel The Coldest City, which revolves around a spy who has to find a list of double agents who are being smuggled into the West, on the eve of the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The film is directed by David Leitch, in his first solo directorial credit, and it is written by Kurt Johnstad.

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Atomic Blonde stars Charlize Theron as a lethal yet seductive secret agent, Lorraine, who is sent to Berlin to retrieve a file containing the names of every clandestine operative working in Berlin and Russia. She arrives in the city at a time when the Berlin Wall is on the brink of coming down. She has to quickly understand the game and identify the players before she can dive into her own plan to retrieve the artifact. Helping her in her pursuit is an embedded station chief, David Percival, played by James McAvoy who has other inclinations and plans of his own.

Atomic Blonde is based on a comic book titled “The Coldest City” written by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart. However, when I was watching this film, it instantaneously gave me a vibe of being from a source material much pristine than a comic book. I say that meaning no disregard for the comic book medium of which I myself am a big fan of. It’s just that the structure of the story, the characters, and the treatment felt much more than coming from a standard comic book source. It doesn’t have any of the glitz and glam associated with the comic book tag. Instead, it takes a much more Bourne –esc attitude towards the proceedings and feel itself.

I didn’t get this film in the first viewing. It took me two viewings to get the whole point and that’s not because I wasn’t paying attention. It’s because there is so much to take in apart from the visuals and the actions which, by the way, is brilliant. This is a film that feels almost like a drama and is laced with twists and turns that you are bound to miss if you are not paying attention. That’s one of the things that I loved about this film. I am tired of watching poorly done action films masquerading themselves as espionage thrillers. We needed a gritty and grisly espionage thriller that didn’t ignore the thriller and espionage part and tried to compensate it with action or if I may stretch it as far as saying over-the-top action.

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Here is a film that nearly doesn’t have a single character with singular motivation. These characters are spies and they behave like ones. Lorraine is held back and you know as little about her motivations as her compatriots in the film. Theron plays the character with a kind of deadpan seriousness that serves the narrative and the believability really well. James McAvoy is devilishly charming and yet beneath all his charm and smooth demeanor, you always know that he is hiding something. As the story progresses, the thin line between right-wrong and good-evil is constantly meddled with resulting in some very polarizing moments.

This is a gorgeous looking film. I cannot point out a single frame that is not worthy of being saved as a wallpaper. The film is drenched in a neon glow that is reminiscent of the era that it depicts. The cinematography is astounding and is successful in bringing out all that is best about the time and period in which the story unravels. The visuals are crisp, on the point and brilliantly lit. Light plays an important role in the manner in which the visuals present themselves to us. The film has a lot of close-ups and they are done Oh! So well. The cinematography takes a different turn in the action sequences. Most of it is shot using hand-helds and it adds a lot of grit to what we are served.

There is such physicality associated with the action sequences that they are bound to put some of the exclusive action films to shame and make them feel lame. There is a sequence towards the end of the film where Charlize Theron’s character is shown plowing through a large number of adversaries mostly using hand to hand combat. This sequence will easily rank as one of the best action sequences of the whole year. The men involved are gigantic and Theron feels minuscule in front of them. She is broken and bloody but still, the kind of attack that she delivers has to be seen to be believed. The action feels so great not only because of the manner in which it is choreographed, shot and executed but because of the buildup to it. The action sequences all happen as a result of an ensuing plot point and feel organic and necessary. They are not prop-pieces but vital plot elements.

Atomic Blonde is uproariously entertaining and devilishly charming. It is a film that can be viewed multiple times and still enjoyed completely. The performances by the entire cast is good and it has some of the most scintillating action sequences of this year. Add to that a look and feel that is bound to be poetry for the eyes and you have a film at hands that is un-miss-able.

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