ATOMIC BLONDE gets 7/10 Blonde, Atomic Blonde

 

Directed by David Leitch
Starring Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Eddie Marsan and John Goodman

7/10

Atomic Blonde is a sonic boom of 80’s nostalgia. A slamming soundtrack and covetable costuming that plays as scenery almost outshines some seriously kickass fight choreography. While it doesn’t quite fit the mould of spy genre, as much one of the two John Wick directors (David Leitch) yearned for it to in his solo directorial debut, it’s a hell of a ride. This is action all the way, and the JW team’s trademark stylised fight scenes are the vehicle, travelling at high speed to deliver the goods. Lorraine Broughton is a spy and a killer queen, and London’s calling on Her Majesty’s Secret Service for answers.

The premise is simple, as are the majority of the plot lines. Lorraine Broughton (Theron) is being debriefed after being sent by MI6 to infiltrate Berlin as the wall is set to be felled, to investigate the assassination of a fellow agent and subsequently recover a list of double agents. Her partner in Berlin (James McAvoy) has been deep undercover so long the culture has seeped into his very pores, and his alliances are rapidly as questionable as his integrity. Cue the set-up for several blurred lines, ambiguous loyalties and glorious action sequences.

Sure, the comparisons to James Bond are inevitable for any spy premise, but this blonde is a brilliant Bond reprieve. She’s unshakeable, and utterly incapable of being stirred. Theron’s Lorraine is a delicious cocktail of absolute mayhem, hold the misogyny. For those with a taste for strong, kickass women in their cinematic palette, Lorraine Broughton is your flavour. She is unapologetic, tough, sassy and stylish AF.

It’s a role Theron had in development for five years and she took it so seriously that she insisted on doing the majority of the stunts herself, save for those that insurance wouldn’t cover such as the inevitably expensive fall down stairs. Her gruelling physical training and commitment to the role is evident throughout. Conversely, McAvoy clearly relishes his role as agent gone “feral” David Percival, and the fun he is clearly having onscreen plays as light relief for an audience seeking momentary warmth from the stone cold iciness of Broughton.

Leitch utilises every piece of directional firepower in his small but mighty arsenal, focusing on every bead of sweat and drip of blood, zooming in and sweeping through fight scenes at close quarters as we are taken in, under and over every moment with the precision only a stuntman could navigate. The fighting is ruthless, precise and economical with not a single move going to waste. Broughton’s fight style brutally utilises any and all weaponry in her environment, with spectacular results.

The beauty of Atomic Blonde lies in its gender blindness. Lorraine Broughton doesn’t fit the binary, rallies against patriarchal stereotypes, and could just as easily have been cast as a man. This is the future of cinema – whereby roles are not written for a specific gender, but open to interpretation. Granted, this is based on a starkly-drawn comic book written with a woman lead, but her gender is not the focus here. Her sexuality is never questioned, and nor should it matter. Her chosen lover may be a woman, but it passes without note. It’s not so much a step in the right direction but a giant stomp for representation and diversity, whereupon a character’s sexuality is no longer remarkable. More of this, please.

If you dig flawlessly choreographed fight scenes, women kicking butt in runway worthy clothing, set to a killer soundtrack, look no further. The last couple of years have been generous to you. If your tastes run with the slightly more esoteric, this may not be your jam, but you would be missing out on a heck of a lot of fun.

NATALIE GILES

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