A Case For Better Action Movies: ATOMIC BLONDE (2017)


There's definitely legitimate reason to stay worried about the craft of action filmmaking, as there are still plenty of people in the film industry with a little too much undeserved authority on how to shoot fights and stunts while telling a cohesive story. Graciously, Atomic Blonde suffers from none of this as with the uptick and proliferation in the last several years of stunt professionals setting precedence behind the camera - specifically the likes of current Deadpool 2 helmer David Leitch in his solo directing debut after partnering with fellow 87Eleven Action chief, Chad Stahelski, for 2014 hit film, John Wick.

Transitioned from Antony Johnston's "The Coldest City" with a level of pulsating energy running high on neon contours and your new favorite 80's soundtrack, actress Charlize Theron's performance as British intel agent Lorraine Broughton works from top to bottom next to her fellow cast as the film takes off in post-events where she is interrogated by superiors from MI6 and the CIA. We witness her journey in Berlin's last tumultuous days before the wall comes down as she sets out to retrive a microfilm that lists every active agent in the Soviet Union. Aided by her contact, Percival (James McAvoy), sexy French Agent and love interest LaSalle (Sofia Boutella), and a Spyglass (Eddie Marsan) a Stasi defector looking for a way out for his family, all sorts of sordid secrecy and duplicity run rampant and are revealed accordingly as she treads through bullets, bloody knuckles and a rising body count to uncover the truths that await on the other side.

Straight and to the point here: We get a lot from Theron's Broughton on screen: She's tough and has been around the block a time or several to know how to take care of herself. More importantly, next to her resilience and tenacity is the fact that she's not just a one-note badass in this movie. She bares her own vulnerability at times in very low key moments, generating empathy and compassion for her character as the film moves forward. As exemplified continually in her work, Theron is a consumate actress, and save for the expertise and needs met by the team along with stunt double Monique Ganderton, shows nothing short of commitment next to the five years she reportedly put in developing this adaptation.

The action is brutal, deadly and impressively lensed as action fans would hope. Lending greatly to the continuity are the visible bumps, cuts and bruises that come with Broughton's occupation. You're almost left wondering if the trivia around those lesions are comprised of cosmetics or, at least in part, make up a percentage of what Theron puts herself through in some of the action along with her own training.

I could nitpick about what few flaws or critiques there are in this movie, but I won't. Good action cinema is where you find it and criticizing Atomic Blonde in anyway shape or form beyond this juncture would be a futile effort as much as it deems a standing example of how to make action movies. Most of today's filmmakers would be so lucky to learn from films like this, and to pass on that knowledge to the next generation... Either that or step aside and let today's crop of creatives take the mantle. They deserve it. Charlize knows it. Ryan knows it. Keanu knows it. And God willing, so do you.

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