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Atomic Blonde [RSC Film Club 28]


LimeGreenLegend

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LimeGreenLegend

This month's winning genre and film come courtesy of @omarcomin71 who nominated Charlize Theron films, choosing Atomic Blonde as his film.  

ATOMIC BLONDE Alternative poster design #AtomicBlonde | Movie posters  design, Movie posters minimalist, Alternative movie posters

Based on the graphic novel The Coldest City, Theron stars as Lorraine Broughton, an MI6 agent who has been tasked with finding a list of double agents being smuggled into the west on the eve of the collapse of the Berlin Wall.  It is directed by David Leitch, former stuntman and uncredited co-director of John Wick.  This is his first credited film, going on to direct Deadpool 2 and Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw.  This is a man who knows his action, so I'm expecting some good stuff here.

This film also has a fantastic supporting cast including James McAvoy, John Goodman, Eddie Marsan and Toby Jones.  Seeing as I've not seen this film yet I don't have much to add here, but going from her performance in previous film club selection Mad Max: Fury Road then I know that Charlize Theron will be kicking some serious *ss and looking good doing it.

Fun fact I discovered while making this post:  Charlize Theron has had the same number of screen deaths as Sean Bean, both on 25, and she is the the most killed female actor.  The top five, just above Theron and Bean, are Samuel L. Jackson with 28, Vincent Price on 32, Bela Lugosi on 36, John Hurt with 45, and top of the list is the late great Christopher Lee with an incredible 60 on screen deaths.  

you know those movies where the picture just starts to slow down... and melt? Then catch fire? Well, that's Berlin.

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Con
13 hours ago, LimeGreenLegend said:

Fun fact I discovered while making this post:  Charlize Theron has had the same number of screen deaths as Sean Bean, both on 25, and she is the the most killed female actor.  The top five, just above Theron and Bean, are Samuel L. Jackson with 28, Vincent Price on 32, Bela Lugosi on 36, John Hurt with 45, and top of the list is the late great Christopher Lee with an incredible 60 on screen deaths.  

you know those movies where the picture just starts to slow down... and melt? Then catch fire? Well, that's Berlin.

That’s the type of insight I’m here for baby!!! Yeah!!!

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Beez

Watched it last night. Really cool movie. 
So first thing is what a great soundtrack! So much good stuff from my college days. 


The 911 Turbo was cool and in a bunch of scenes there was a sunburst orange BMW R90S in the background which is a very cool motorcycle from the ‘70s. Later on it was shown closer up and I thought it was for sure going to be in a chase scene but it never happened. I wonder if there was a chase with it and it was cut?

Loved her clothes! Especially the black & white sweater in the outfit with the boots and white coat.

Of course there was “the scene” oh my!

I really liked the big fight scene near the end which had them stopping to catch their breath periodically. They were still fighting like superheroes but the pauses gave it a bit of realism. The chase that was in the movie was also good and I loved when the axle and tire separated from the car.

Edited by Beez
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djw180

A very enjoyable, stylish, s*xy, spy-action film. It has a good cast, well acted. Charlize Theron as the main character, Lorraine Broughton, is great. So definitely a good pick for this month's film club genre. The action sequences are good; they last maybe a little longer than they really need to for me personally, but they are not over-the-top. I like the use of colour and lighting, the sort of neon blues and pinks in some of the inside scenes. The music is excellent. It's almost like a greatest hits of the 80s from the start with New Order's Blue Monday to the ending with Queen and David Bowie's Under Pressure.

The plot is confusing a couple times though. That may not always matter for action films but this isn't just pure action, it is supposed to be telling a story as well. I got a bit confused with the switches from East to West Berlin, which does matter because in the East a British film spy is allowed to kill their Stasi and KGB enemies but in the West those cops are meant to be on her side! Then the actual ending just has too many twists that still don't make sense to me having seen this twice now.

8/10

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zmurko

Watched this on Tuesday night and don't regret it at all.

I really enjoyed the whole late 80's vibe, even got a little nostalgic at times. Clothes, music (99 luftballons, ...), cars, ... probably more so then the plot/story. Did everyone see the Rhapsody?!

One of the things I did find annoying were the fight scenes, too many almost "rise from the death" moments, took way too long in my opinion too. If you get really beaten up, bleeding bad, even shot, then fall down the stairs, I don't think there's enough adrenaline in the world to wake you up, let alone make you get up and be ready to fight again. Those 2 really didn't want to give up / die, did they?

Cool movie, especially if you were born in the 70's or earlier and can actually remember the times. Just a year and a half later, we split from Yugoslavia and got our independance. Europe/world really changed in that 3-4 year span (remember, end of 1992 Czechoslovakia dissolved too), all while I was 13-16, starting high school and growing up.

Charlize Theron was nice too! 🙂

Good pick. I probably wouldn't have picked it to watch on Netflix just based on the title/thumbnail, so thanks whoever suggested it.

 

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Con

Atomic Blonde (2017)

This is shot with style, visually and technically. The lighting, especially light that falls on Lorraine (Charlize Theron) just makes her look more beautiful. The sets are gorgeous and add ambiance to the film, which is a good thing as many of Charlize's down moments don't really show her emoting, she just smokes cigarettes and drinks vodka, so having the set brood with character works. Let's not get it twisted, Charlize kicking *ss is how this was marketed and indeed we get that in copious and delicious amounts. What was refreshing about the fight scenes is that we see Lorraine get pummeled and suffer damage to her face. Charlize looks fine kicking all that *ss as those outfits make her fighting just look real cool. But that sounds superficial and not giving the fight scenes substance because there is plenty of it, the fighting choreography was very good and knowing Charlize did most of the choreography herself really helps sell her character. James McAvoy does amazing work as David Percival, he really brought charisma and contrasted Charlize's super serious Lorraine. 

The color palettes used were all interesting, some worked and some didn't, what I mean is the film opens up in almost black and white, then we are shown the interrogation scene in full color, so naturally you assess that the flashbacks will be in that washed out filter as many films usually do, but here the color palettes were a bit inconsistent and actually made it harder to follow the timelines in the film. I did like what the film tried to do with the mini-secret agent history lesson or its spy-prestige thing but it just gets lost because the brain is trying to put together the clues we are given about Satchel and Spyglass and  the convoluted spy vs spy, double agent vs double agent element. So I liked the stylish art production and the amazing fight scenes, oh and that same s*x scene was so, verdammt heiß !! They keep it mostly PG but damn, I wasn't expecting the groping and Sofia Boutella (Delphine) really goes all in and clearly was my favorite scene in the film because in a film about double crosses, having your main character get naked with people, really makes them vulnerable. Good scene placement. The 80's music usually hit the right tones and made me reflect how Wonder Woman 84 (2021) has almost no 80's classics and yet, here in Atomic Blonde, they had the money for multiple 80's hits. 

Okay now some of the things I disliked. I heavily disliked this whole double agent set-up because it was so hard to follow and it was in part due to both "mystery" spy characters being named similarly, one was Satchel and the other was Spyglass....(yes, SPYglass, his fn code name had the word SPY in it...but worse is that the secret list the entire film is really about, also has a code name and that name is "The List", really screenwriter??!!!! ,Really!!!???) So what happened to me was I found it hard to follow who Satchel and Spyglass were and after a while, I didn't even care. My brain said, Con one of the good guys is the bad guy, lets just leave it at that since it looks like they are going to wait until the end of the film to reveal it. By the time it becomes revealed, I couldn't have cared less because it wasn't a great use of that trope, it didn't enrich the story for me it actually distracted me because honestly, it wasn't until the film was over that I learned that the list wasn't just a list of spies, but a list of double-agent spies. I don't know where I missed that in the exposition but I thought it was just a regular list of spies real names, so that bothered me that I had missed that and it could have been my fault, but damn, I was really paying close attention to the dialogue. The use of the Berlin Wall falling is something I have always found fascinating and loved that they included that but felt they overreached with the implication that the story we were just told had any correlation with the wall coming down. And perhaps its just me completely being confused but that's the thing, I don't want to be confused and all I wanted was to follow a cohesive story, one that in this spy-action thriller makes way too complicated. I had no problem with some of the exaggerated moments because the original source is a graphic novel so I wasn't looking out for realistic physics 100% of the time, so I won't get on the running from bullets thing or veteran assassins announcing themselves before a kill. I also didn't love all the editing choices, because some of those scene transitions came across very amateurish. 

Final Verdict....3/5.....Overall the film was eye candy from a production and Charlize standpoint. I wish that Charlize's character had a bit more arc because that last scene is where I saw the Charlize I recognize, the actor having fun with the material and if they could have captured the spirit of the last act throughout the entire film, I would be rating this higher just on spirit alone. The last scene had everything, mystery, danger, atmosphere, reveal, ultra-violence, and action. I think the main flaw in the film for me was that it tried to be an action, spy-thriller, mystery, and historical piece...and would have worked better had they just told a simple story about a bad *ss chick trying to retrieve a list from some bad guys but she needs to enlist the help of a spy turned junkie. That could have worked instead of the double agent, triple agent, who knows how many f*cking agents trope they went with which confused me to the point of not caring and basically just watched it for the beat downs. And for spies that want to keep a low profile, they sure don’t act like it, dude is driving a Porsche like a mad man and she dresses like she wants everyone to notice her. 

And yes, @zmurkoI saw the Rhapsody and smiled.

Edited by Con
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Con
On 3/25/2021 at 7:14 AM, zmurko said:

Good pick. I probably wouldn't have picked it to watch on Netflix just based on the title/thumbnail, so thanks whoever suggested it.

Same here. While I love Theron, I’m not the biggest graphic novel to film adaptation fan so I tend not to seek this genre out but I was glad I watched it although I did like Theron’s character in, The Old Guard (2020), better, where she plays a similar character but one that is so much more intriguing than Lorraine. 

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LimeGreenLegend
Posted (edited)

I was really expecting good things from this film, a neon soaked political spy thriller starring Charlize Theron sounds like an absolute no-brainer, but this ended up as a prime example of style over substance, even if the style is very, very stylish.  Theron stars as Lorraine Broughton, an MI6 agent sent to Berlin to recover a list of double agents.  Along the way she encounters the local MI6 station chief, Percival (James McAvoy) French operative Lasalle (Sofia Boutella) and defecting Stasi officer Spyglass (Eddie Marsan).  The whole film is framed as a debrief of the mission conducted by senior MI6 and CIA agents Gray and Kurzfeld (Toby Jones, John Goodman).  

charlize theron GIF by Atomic Blonde

I'll start with the good.  Theron is a magnetic lead here, her performance is understated in such an over-the-top film that it really stands out.  Her exasperated exclamations of "f*ck's sake" throughout the film making a dry counterpoint to the punny quipping of James Bond.  Some of my favourite scenes in the film are from her debriefing, she's just sat there telling a story.  It's not always easy to follow, but it's always captivating.  The camera is also in love with her, the film is full of neon bathed close ups of her face.  This serves a dual purpose.  Not only are we offered a chance to admire her beauty but it stands in contrast to later in the film where she is beaten and bloodied up.  You really know she's been in a fight afterwards, she's not like a superhero Bond type who just adjusts his tie after a near death experience.  

These action scenes are the centre-point of the film.  The director, David Leitch, is clearly more comfortable in the world of action.  He is a former stuntman and co-directed John Wick (another film that is style over substance), and this shows because the film is more coherent when people are punching each other rather than talking to each other.  The best scene to me is the nearly 10 minute one-shot fight scene that starts in a stairwell and ends in a car chase.  Most of the edits are very obvious, a more experienced director could have maybe hidden them better (Sam Mendes's 1917 did a much better job of this), but the choreography and the performances were exceptional.  @djw180and @zmurkomade the point that they sometimes drag on too long, and I can see that is totally the case, but every time the goons got back up to attack her again I got more and more pumped because that means I get to see Charlize kick them in the throat again.  It nearly turns into a parody of itself, but it doesn't quite cross that line.  

charlize theron fight GIF by Atomic Blonde

The supporting performances were mostly really good here.  I said that the debrief scenes were some of my favourite, and that's not totally down to Theron alone.  Toby Jones and John Goodman are two excellent actors and I was glad that they got as much screen time as they did.  Boutella as Lasalle was also really good, her scenes with Theron coming close to tender, something I didn't expect from this film.  I would have liked to see more of Eddie Marsan as I think he is a really underrated actor, but he did great with what he had to work with, which was mostly looking scared and being bundled from scene to scene.  The only cast member I didn't like is McAvoy, and that's just a personal thing.  I don't think I've enjoyed his work in anything I've seen him in from The Last King of Scotland to X-Men.  He is just always overshadowed by much better actors; Forrest Whittaker, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron.  He doesn't do anything wrong, or overtly bad here, I just don't like him.  It's a me problem.

charlize theron GIF by Atomic Blonde

The look of the film is a mixed bag to me.  The promotional artwork for this film had a very stylised look that I thought would translate to the film, and it does in some scenes.  The lighting of her hotel room is gorgeous, and most night time scenes are the same, scenes in the bars and clubs, scenes with the Watchmaker (Til Schweiger, another under-utilised talent) all have a real nice contrast between the black of night and the unnatural neon glow, but like @Conmentioned, the film, especially during daytime scenes, looks washed out and desaturated.  This could be a conscious choice from the filmmakers, but it just looks ugly to me, like it's from a different film.  

But, like with everyone else here, my biggest problem was with the plot.  I was following along pretty well up until McAvoy's character was introduced and then I lost it pretty quickly.  I've not read the original graphic novel on which this is based, but I'm assuming that there is a lot more time to develop the plot in a more coherent way.  This is not a problem for this film alone, but this is a big offender.  I think this film would be better if the plot was simplified, maybe focusing more on Broughton's mission to extract Spyglass from Berlin.  That way we would get an easier to follow film and more Eddie Marsan.  If you're looking for a tightly plotted political spy thriller then I would recommend Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy or The Manchurian Candidate.  If you want some *ss kicking eye candy then this is a perfectly decent film.  7/10

charlize theron bitch please GIF by Atomic Blonde

Edited by LimeGreenLegend
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Con

@LimeGreenLegend tremendous review bro. Everyone pretty much agreed that we enjoyed it but were confused by the storytelling and the double crossing. 
I think had they kept everything suspenseful, like when she arrives at the airport and is told that there was a change of plans on who was picking her up, that brief scene has more tension and suspense than most of the critical scenes. Who are they? Are they good or bad? It doesn’t take long for us to find out. 
The action sequence momentums suffer here because we have to slow down to hear the exposition which confuses more than it adds to the story.
Did “C” really have to tell her “not to trust anyone” before heading out to Berlin? lol

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LimeGreenLegend

Thanks @Con.  Yeah, the plot feels like it was really trying to fit in too much information, like they wanted to get everything from the graphic novel into the film.

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LimeGreenLegend
1 minute ago, Con said:

@LimeGreenLegendi wrote a short script of a story I wanted to develop that takes place during the same Berlin Wall timeline as this film. If I find it, will you please read it, if I share it with you? 

Sure man.  I'm not really an expert on that part of history but I like a good story.

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Con
13 minutes ago, LimeGreenLegend said:

Sure man.  I'm not really an expert on that part of history but I like a good story.

Hahahah neither did I when I wrote it. It’s kind of a love story and less historical drama. I just wanted to try and set a concept during that time period as one day years back, I came across a picture taken on the night the wall came down and it inspired my short story, plus I wanted to try something complex in the screenwriting.

Edited by Con
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