Posts Tagged Charlize Theron

Late Fantasia Film Review: Atomic Blonde

atomic-blonde-poster

If you’ve been waiting for Charlize Theron to follow up her action movie star creds earned in Mad Max: Fury Road, you’ve probably had your sights in Atomic Blonde for a while now. Directed by David Leitch, the feature has drawn comparisons to the Bourne films although I found the film closer in fighting style to John Wick. Granted, there’s less gun play, but here’s where the movie breaks a female action taboo: our heroine gets hurt and bruised.

Perhaps hurt is the most outstanding thing about Lorraine Broughton. She can look like a million bucks, but she’s not doing the catwoman-in-leather thing. She goes physical and gets attacked right back. She gets hurt, she gets punched, she kicks back and it shows. Bruises are left over from one scene to another. Her fights are not damsel fights, they’re rough and physically tiresome. The combatants are not elegant and not every punch connects. Lorraine doesn’t land on her feet every time. She still looks very much like she’s kicking everyone’s ass from here to the moon though.

The music is very much her co-star, I’d dare say even more than James McAvoy who plays David Percival. The Berlin station chief and Lorraine’s contact in the communist city is another bigger-than-life character, running cons left and right and selling jeans in East Berlin. The 80’s soundtrack is just a notch above him, complementing every scene and nostalgically setting us up in the good/bad ol’ years of the Cold War with the music scene of the 80’s (Nena’s 99 Luftballoons was expected and didn’t disappoint).

The plot does get a little contrived, to the point that I felt like just drowning it out. The spectacle is visual, musical but you’re going to the wrong movie to seek out a fully logical explanation. That being said, it is still a spy movie through and through as alliances are made, deals are broken, and there’s an ubiquitous list of spies that must not fall in the wrong hands somewhere around there.

Highly recommended for action film enthusiasts. Don’t expect an art film and don’t expect Bond. But do expect a new standard for the anti-hero who happens to be female. The movie is elegant where it wants to be and brutal where it needs to. In a day and age where some spies just brush off dust and join the party, Atomic breaks open the door and goes for the jugular. Beautiful but damaged, elegant but savage, the movie looks and sounds a lot like its main lead. She will break your heart. And your arms. And your legs.

That will do for now.

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Movie Review: Mad Max – Fury Road

(Source: Warner Brothers)

(Source: Warner Brothers)

Rev up the engines.

If there’s something that Mad Max: Fury Road does better than every other action movie you’ve seen. Everything. That is one bold statement, but hear me out. Every action movie is based not on a premise, but as a vehicle for an individual. Sometimes, it’s the lead actor and sometimes it’s the lead actor and some of his friends. Another times, it’s made as an escapist fantasy in which you can relate to the star on screen and dream yourself a hero. But rarely, meaning almost never, is action the number one reason for the film.

And that’s the reason why I believe that George Miller is really a director behind the wheel of his own film. He’s not making this for you and me, he’s not making a fantasy where you can be the winner in every scene, he’s not pandering to the audience. He’s making a film in which the action is the lead and the main subject of every scene. That means whoever is in the scene becomes the action. Nobody is waiting for anybody in particular to save you every time.

The thing that I love about this film and I hope remains undisturbed if this franchise is reborn is that Mad Max is no longer the story. He shouldn’t be. Mad Max is there to be that fortuitous element that tips the scales in favor of the oppressed, in defense of those who fight tyranny. He’s not the main hero, but both the familiar and foreign road warrior that joins your cause almost without meaning to do it. It’s his destiny to make other people reach theirs. A destiny reinforced by mad hallucinations that seem to drive him towards adventure. Don’t expect him to be a mere witness, he does deliver more than few of the killing blows.

The hero of the story, if there has to be one, is Furiosa. Imperator Furiosa if you prefer. In this world, war boys dream of being Imperators – a title reserved to the best drivers. Furiosa herself commands a War Rig, a tractor trailer built for battle. Her self appointed mission is to find the Many Mothers and the world she came from. Along for the ride are the five wives of Immortan Joe. They are selected for breeding. Queen Splendid herself is noticeably pregnant with Joe’s son. But Joe doesn’t want to give up his wives and goes after Furiosa with all his War Boys.

(Source: Warner Brothers)

(Source: Warner Brothers)

It’s amazing the level of depth in world building in this movie. Each of the War Boys has their own steering wheel and wants to become an Imperator. They all pray to their King for the chance to die for him so he can lead them to Valhalla. Philosophy and religion sanded down to guts and glory. The vehicles are epic. The characters are epic. Immortan Joe, the ruler of the Citadel, is a walking corpse that drapes himself in plastic armor and a breathing mask. He controls the most precious of elements, water. When Furiousa veers away from her task into her own quest, Joe charges after him with an army of crazy and disturbed.

Max is along for the ride courtesy of Nux, a War Boy that needs his blood supply to charge his own veins. Nux is also an interesting character, who’s got more than one surprise under his pale skin and I’m not talking about the two tumors he calls Larry and Barry. The way that Max ends up being a part of Furiousa’s party is almost incidental. He’s not the most interesting character, but the bystander that got in the way.

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Extremely recommended. It’s over the top, balls to wall, pedal to the metal an action film. Nobody gets to stand idly by and get rescued. Go get your life or have it taken away from you. With visceral and gut-wrenching moments back to back, you’ll be tired before the movie gives you a chance to breathe which does not happen right away. But once you get that rare pause, it takes just a moment before you’re ready to go again.

(Sources: Mad Max: Fury Road)

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