Atomic Blonde (REVIEW)
A pseudo sequel to John Wick, Atomic Blonde looks to capture the female version of that story with Charlize Theron as our leading heroine. There is no doubt that Charlize absolutely brings it in this film. She is one tough cookie taking on these men out to get her and her out to get them. It's not so much a game of skill where she is smarter than the thugs she fights say like that of Leon or Batman for instance but instead goes in full force and brings down a world of pain on her assailants.
Unfortunately outside of the few big action sequences, one involving a staircase that is some of the best I have ever seen, the film doesn't have much going for it. Much like Mission Impossible and Skyfall it involves a list of names of covert operatives going missing and it is up to her to retrieve it, where things get messy is who is on who's side and why they want the information and that is never made entirely clear, there are so many different alliances being made at any one time and people chasing other that at least for me it got too confusing until the end when they spelled it out, I'm the first to admit that im not the brightest when multiple groups are chasing after the same thing. and those groups aren't exactly distinct. That said I sort of didn't care who they were and whether they succeeded or not. I did want Loraine to succeed because she was cool and could kick some serious butt but everyone else was sort of throw away.
The use of music in the film is kind of hit and miss for me, I enjoyed the spray painted title cards and some of the shots are pretty, however just because the hotel room uses neon red and blue or green and purple doesn't spell art to me. It's a nice change of pace from other steely blue/grey spy thrillers but take away the color and you have a run of the mill period spy film that does little to provoke a response. It's just window dressing. at one point David Bowie's "Cat People" plays and I can't help but think of Inglorious Basterds, it worked so much better in that film than this one because it was unexpected and flowed so perfectly. That is a major issue with the film, the soundtrack adds nothing to the film other than fitting the time period. Also I found that having it all take place as a debriefing cutting back and forth to be useless and took away from the momentum of the film, every time it cut back things just slowed right down and provided little to nothing of value.
What did work were the performances. If nothing else the characters were fun to watch. I liked seeing Charlize get more and more beat up as the film went along as her bruises multiplied and her knuckles bloodied. We also find out early on that she is in love with another agent that was gunned down by a person she is looking for so she has some personal stakes in the game. However I never really felt that in the film. Where John Wick (the first one, not the second) was ripe with revenge and fueled by the passion for retribution, Atomic Blonde felt like an excuse to have some action set pieces and some cool lighting with a fun soundtrack. In that regard it succeeded but not much else.
This is a sort of bare bones thriller with some slick and wonderful action, a great performance by Charlize and McAvoy, even Sofia Boutella was decent. I just wish the story surrounding it was at all interesting and less confusing for me personally. I got lost at one point and it made it much harder to enjoy as it went along but I think that was just me and not so much the movie's fault. If you are going to make a movie where the plot doesn't matter you better make darn sure that the action is amazing and the characters are interesting. The action is amazing, one scene in particular was down right jaw dropping. However there is just far too little of it and the characters while somewhat interesting are just barely enough to keep things moving. I'd like to see more of Charlize in this role but I just wish it was with a story I was more interested in.