The well-directed stunts and cool simple story made John Wick a refreshing action movie. A one man killing machine on a revenge tour directed by experienced stunt men (Chad Stahelski and David Leitch) formed a perfect combination. Stahelski is still directing John Wick sequels and Leitch has been named as the director for the highly anticipated Deadpool 2. Before he jumped in to direct Deadpool 2 saving it from entering production hell, Leitch directed a movie many have nick named Jane Wick in reference to its similarities to his directorial debut. Atomic Blonde, released worldwide in theaters just a few weeks ago, solidified Leitch’s high standing in the action movie scene.
I get a strange feeling when I watch movies featuring secret agents (or hitmen) like the recent James Bond movies, Salt, John Wick, and now Atomic Blonde. When I see the characters in these movies defy impossible odds and takeout countless armed guards by themselves I feel a mixture of jealously and adulation. I wish I was half as cool and effective as the highly trained killers and I root for them in every situation.
Atomic Blonde stars the most attractive woman in Hollywood today, Charlize Theron. She is 90% of the reason that I decided to watch this movie in theaters over Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit. A fight scene in a trailer that I saw for the movie wasn’t the most impressive, but in support of Charlize playing a bad ass and Leitch as a director, I paid the $7 to watch the 4:30pm showing at my local theater.
This movie is cool.
Its plot is much more complicated than I expected. Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is an MI6 agent who was sent into Russian occupied Berlin right before the wall separating East and West Berlin was torn down. Her mission was to recover a list (which was stored via microfilm in a watch) of every active Russian spy and to kill the double agent named Satchel who was responsible for the missing list.
The plot gets super weird and convoluted filled with too many plot twists which became a bit too distracting. A mysterious agent named Troy Percival (James McAvoy) is the source of much of the conflict and becomes a suitable villain.
Minus the complicated plot (based on the graphic novel The Coldest City) everything about this movie rules. The original score was very Cliff Martinez-esque with some late 80’s era recognizable songs mixed in. One particular sound effect made for a fun experience. (Spoilers) When Percival began listening to Lorraine through the bug he placed on her, the sound went almost completely distorted and muffled. Dialogue and music could still be heard but a loud distortion (listening through a small bug) was over top of everything alerting everyone in the theater. It took me a few concerned seconds to realize that it was an effect to simulate the sounds of listening to a bug through loud head phones. I, like the person in my theater who actually went to get a staff member, thought the speakers in the theater blew out. The theater goer who left to get a staff member was embarrassed and I was highly impressed with the sound effect.
The action is incredible. Charlize had an obvious body double, but the choreography of the fights was on par with John Wick creating brutal and fast paced fight scenes. The long action shot involving a police car is un-fucking-believable and gets me fired up thinking about it as its degree of difficulty is equal to its thrilling outcome.
Similar to the first season of True Detective, most of the story is told through an interrogation (or debriefing) of the events after the fact. The movie went from the interrogation room to the story Lorraine told, and back and forth through the entire movie. This is a creative way of telling a story and it gives the viewer a moment to breathe and process everything.
In addition to McAvoy (Wanted), John Goodman (every supporting actor role that wasn’t already taken by Larry Fishburne, Robert Whitaker, or Morgan Freeman), Sofia Boutella, Eddie Marsan, Til Schweiger (Inglorious Basterds), Toby Jones, and Bill Skarsgard (brother of Alexander Skarsgard who starred in Generation Kill, a fun fact that I wanted reveal and is the only reason I went so far down the list of supporting actors) all support Charlize in her lead role. There wasn’t a bad acting performance, but this is about as much of a one actor movie you will ever see, which isn’t a bad thing when that actor is Charlize.
The nudity and lesbian sex scenes were unexpected and probably unnecessary, but accepted by my perverted mind which has an unhealthy attraction towards Charlize.
This movie isn’t perfect, but it is exactly what I wanted it to be, Charlize Theron kicking ass with top tier action scenes. Forgetting its twisty and hard to follow plot, this movie definitely lives up to the Jane Wick, woops, I mean Atomic Blonde name.