Notable Cast: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Til Schweiger, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella, Toby Jones, Bill Skarsgard, Sam Hargrave
It wasn’t that long ago that the action genre got a well-deserved injection in the mainstream consciousness from the first Taken film. It hit all the usual action tropes, but it struck a chord with audiences who bought into it with vigor. This same burst happened again with John Wick a few years ago, but this time it was less about fine tuning the action film style that was popular at the time and more about using style, simplicity, and an old school approach that made the connection with audiences. Call it what you will, but action right now is being propelled by the ‘John Wick Effect’ which itself was still riding a bit on the Taken and Bourne momentum. It has launched the creative careers of the members of 87 Eleven and made a stylistic impact. So when the two directors of John Wick decided to go their separate ways, it only meant that fans would get more. From Chad Stahelski we got the just as impressive John Wick: Chapter 2 and from David Leitch we got the graphic novel based film, Atomic Blonde. Now, the reason this brief recap of the events leading to Atomic Blonde is important is that it’s the measuring stick that this film will judged and it’s one of the reasons that it ultimately feels like more of a mixed effort. Atomic Blonde features some dynamic visuals, a fun classic action concept, and the usual impressive action, but it also suffers from one key problem: forced narrative, leaving the film feeling a bit more uneven than initially expected.
|Ass kicking 101 with your professor, Charlilze Theron.
As expected though, the one thing that this film will more than likely be remembered by is the visual style partnered with the jaw dropping action sequences David Leitch is known for bringing to the table. The back drop of late 1980s Berlin, on the verge of the wall falling, makes for a fantastic set for the film to take place, slathering it in a neon and tension soaked place to deliver visual pops and dynamic atmosphere for the characters to inhabit. Leitch’s attention to editing, momentum, and building truly memorable and energetic action sequences sets his films apart almost immediately so that the style of a film like Atomic Blonde can fly. As for the action itself, it’s glorious. Theron brings the pain here, showcasing her physical talents with grace and viciousness, but the design of the choreography and knack of showing the audience the action is flawless. It’s visually bright and fun, but still hard hitting. The finale, which is shot to hide the edits and create a seamless action sequence, is jaw dropping in its execution. All of the action is good, whether its hand to hand combat, car chases, or gun fights, and action fans will drool in anticipation with how Leitch raise the ante with each one.
Truthfully, I hope it gets franchised even with its disappointing theatrical run. It deserves that much.