Atomic Blonde (2017) – 8.7/10
I told the ticket seller “One for the worst titled flick of the year, please,” and he knew exactly what I was talking about. I wasn’t expecting much going in, which naturally is to be expected for most no-brainer action flicks, but then I’d watch Charlize Theron swathed in knee high fuzzboots and a parka in a documentary on Eskimos for all that mattered. Add the fact that the theatre and been recently remodeled and the seats were plush reclining loungers dressed in leather and electronically operated, and that my ticket cost only eight bucks (I’m a senior, don’tcha know?) and I couldn’t go wrong, no matter how shitty the show turned out to be.
Imagine my surprise when I found that the only thing I could find to complain about was the title. Okay, the script was nothing special, but albeit overplotted wasn’t bad. It was the trifecta of direction, acting, and cinematography that hit the spot.
Director David Leitch excelled in his cuts and segues from scene to scene, and most especially in his utilization of colour. From the mood setting faded tones of Berlin’s near thirty year past just before the fall of the Wall, to the symbolism evoked by the use of the two primaries of Red and Blue, Leitch managed to portray a thoughtful action flick, almost an oxymoron in itself. Stylistically the film recalled the moods and deliveries of both Sin City and John Wick, not too much of a surprise since it was after all based upon a comic, and since Theron dispatched many a bad guy by a swift kick to the balls followed by a bullet to the head, a trademark of Leitch’s co-direction and cinematographer Jonathan Sela’s work on Wick.
But this flick would have been less “atomic” with anyone but Theron in the title role, one which required a six-footer doing virtually all of her own stunts to lend believability to a Jane Bond taking on a KGB group of seven and laying them out faster than Jack Reacher in a bar fight. Even more important is the depth of character she adds to her performance; her facial expressions – whether dunking herself in ice baths, tossing back shots of straight vodka on ice, or seducing another woman with her eyes and body language – could not have been delivered better by any other actor.
Now, about that title…