Atomic Blonde (David Leitch, 2017)

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domino harvey
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Atomic Blonde (David Leitch, 2017)

#1 Post by domino harvey » Fri Mar 10, 2017 7:48 pm

Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde, directed by one of the John Wick guys

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mfunk9786
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Re: Atomic Blonde (David Leitch, 2017)

#2 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Jun 28, 2017 11:51 pm

I’m not going to waste too many words on this heap of garbage - everything that Leitch should’ve learned from his [uncredited, makes much more sense now than some DGA dispute] second banana work on the first John Wick was either ignored or not absorbed at all. Instead, this film tries to respect an absolutely terrible screenplay by the established bonehead behind such literary masterpieces as 300 and Act of Valor, filled with “twists” and “turns” and the sort of dense espionage plot that can only be told by someone too inept to understand Occam’s razor. More is not, by default, more smart. An unapologetic lesbian love scene or two and only messing around with nudity when the lead character is battered and bruised is not progressive just because. Fake ice cubes do not look like real ice cubes. There are so many lessons here, and I promised I wouldn’t waste too many words on this thing.

There is one centerpiece action scene and multiple haircuts that are absolutely fantastic in this film. That juice is absolutely not worth the squeeze of going to see it. As I wanted to say to the hooting and hollering Tex Avery wolf behind me when Charlize Theron was affixing a microphone wire to her tasteful boyshorts and stockings, getting ready to head out to another half dozen obvious and terrible remixed 80s music cues - you know there’s porn online now, right?

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domino harvey
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Re: Atomic Blonde (David Leitch, 2017)

#3 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jun 29, 2017 12:01 am

And yet somehow talk of a barely-dressed Charlize Theron scored by 80s music fails to dissuade me from being there opening day

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Re: Atomic Blonde (David Leitch, 2017)

#4 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Jun 29, 2017 12:02 am

Enjoy 99 Luftballoons and 99 Luftballoons (Sad Remix)

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Re: The Films of 2017

#5 Post by DarkImbecile » Tue Aug 01, 2017 1:05 pm

As a pretty blatant attempt to capitalize on the success of John Wick, and having been directed by the David Leitch half of that film's pair of directors, it makes sense to evaluate Atomic Blonde pretty much solely in relation to its clear inspiration.

Atomic Blonde is better than the John Wick movies because:
a) its star is Charlize Theron (and I like Keanu Reeves, but come on);
b) its fight sequences are less gun-centric and more physical in every respect;
and c) its intensely neon lighting and color scheme is far more visually distinctive, as is the late-1980s Berlin setting.

Atomic Blonde is worse than the John Wick movies because:
a) it utterly abandons the simplicity of purpose of those films (especially the first) in favor of wildly unnecessary plot convolutions and byzantine character motivations;
b) the structure is also unnecessarily burdened by 3-5 too many cuts to the debriefing sequence, which adds almost literally nothing to the film except the smash cut to Toby Jones' reaction shot from a particularly vivid lesbian sex scene;
and c) the 'I Love the 80s' soundtrack is overplayed by maybe three too many obvious hits.

Overall, I would very tentatively recommend Blonde to fans of the genre, as it does just enough to distinguish itself with its setting and visual sensibility while getting enough of its action sequences right to justify sitting through James McAvoy's character doing whatever it is he's doing in the film. I'd say it comes out just slightly ahead of this year's Wick sequel, largely because it keeps most of the action hand-to-hand and doesn't emulate the endless video-game-shooter sequences in the Reeves film, though it has little to none of the world-building inventiveness of that film's hitman economic/social structure.

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Re: Atomic Blonde (David Leitch, 2017)

#6 Post by Satori » Tue Aug 01, 2017 8:38 pm

I've never seen a John Wick movie, but I went to see this for Theron killing men and kissing ladies to a neon-soaked mise-en-scene and 80s pop soundtrack. It delivered on all counts (plus I absolutely loved the costuming), although I agree the plot was stupid and distracting. What also stood out to me was the reserved use of editing in the fight scenes. While I'm not extremely well versed in the genre, I can't remember another recent American action movie that used so much camera movement and choreography rather than just insanely rapid editing during fights. The stairwell scene in particular, which was followed by a great long take when they get in the car. While it isn't nearly as impressive as it looks (it looks like a single take but he does the Hitchcock Rope thing and some other trick cuts), the scene is still incredibly well choreographed. It reminded me a bit of an 80s Hong Kong action film in which the rapid cuts are used for specific effect and always balanced out with longer takes that showcase the entire bodies of the performers in motion.

Anyway, I don't know if this is something Leitch always does, but it worked really well here.

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Re: Atomic Blonde (David Leitch, 2017)

#7 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Sat Aug 12, 2017 12:27 pm

I didn't really see the point of the flashback structure. I guess it exists purely for
SpoilerShow
Theron to call Goodman a cocksucker in the interview but then you wind up seeing them in cahoots at the end
Fave bit was obviously the part with a fight during a cinema screening of Tarkovsky's Stalker!!!

Fighting and the score was good, plot was silly, but it was a diverting couple of hours.

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Re: Atomic Blonde (David Leitch, 2017)

#8 Post by All the Best People » Sat Aug 12, 2017 9:43 pm

The big near-climax fight was worth it for me, but the "story"-to-action ratio was far too high for a movie that clearly treated the story as a joke.

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Re: Atomic Blonde (David Leitch, 2017)

#9 Post by matrixschmatrix » Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:41 pm

I'm... more or less with mfunk, I think, though I liked the movie's aesthetic more- I particularly liked the use of Til Tuesday, and while the thinking behind it seemed noxious, the tool of using neons for the West and grays for the East at least kept the movie fairly visually interesting. Theron was really excellent, physically, though the role falters compared to her work in something like Mad Max. I do want to complain about the plot, though:
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First and foremost, the way the other woman is killed off was really gross- I knew they were going to do it, but to have a lesbian character strangled in a very sexualized way while in her underwear is a level of gross way beyond what just shooting her would have been. It doesn't really make any sense, and feels like they just wanted to find someone to fridge so it felt appropriately downer-ish, which is also not great, but the specific way it was executed felt nasty in a way that was way beyond what this movie- which seemed to think it was a lot deeper than the John Wick esque joys of it could bear- could ever buy back.

Also, the twist was really stupid- like, the big gotcha is that you think she's working for the West, when actually... she's working for a DIFFERENT country in the West! Wow! It also requires that you sincerely buy into a bunch of Reaganist cliches about the Cold War and the Soviets (she's fighting for freedom, just like the CIA in 1989 definitely was!), but I kind of expected that. But honestly, if you're going to bother with a twist, you might as well have one that actually means anything- as is, it just makes the British look incredibly stupid, since they were obsessed with hunting down a mole who was evidently only passing bad intel along to the Soviets. Shouldn't they know the mole wasn't doing any harm?

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Re: Atomic Blonde (David Leitch, 2017)

#10 Post by All the Best People » Sun Aug 13, 2017 5:33 am

matrix schmatrix, you have thought more about the plot than anyone involved with making the movie did. I actually think the "plot" is just a prank on the whole notion of "twists". I don't think there's one character where, if you track that character's actions from before the film through its end, it would seem acted in anything approaching a rational or even sensible way. That's why I was a bit put off by how much screen time went into the "plot", which is completely irrelevant to why anyone is watching the movie.

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Atomic Blonde (David Leitch, 2017)

#11 Post by Mr Sausage » Sun Aug 13, 2017 9:50 am

matrixschmatrix wrote:while the thinking behind it seemed noxious, the tool of using neons for the West and grays for the East at least kept the movie fairly visually interesting
Why is the thinking noxious?
SpoilerShow
matrixschmatrix wrote:First and foremost, the way the other woman is killed off was really gross- I knew they were going to do it, but to have a lesbian character strangled in a very sexualized way while in her underwear is a level of gross way beyond what just shooting her would have been. It doesn't really make any sense, and feels like they just wanted to find someone to fridge so it felt appropriately downer-ish, which is also not great, but the specific way it was executed felt nasty in a way that was way beyond what this movie- which seemed to think it was a lot deeper than the John Wick esque joys of it could bear- could ever buy back.
I don't know, at least they allowed her the ability to fight back, and used that fighting back to make McAvoy look ridiculous, so that he didn't come out of it looking like a strong, triumphant whatever. It took place in an oddly sexualized position, but it was she who stabbed him, as indeed it turns out she provides all the material to bury his reputation later.
matrixschmatrix wrote:Also, the twist was really stupid- like, the big gotcha is that you think she's working for the West, when actually... she's working for a DIFFERENT country in the West! Wow! It also requires that you sincerely buy into a bunch of Reaganist cliches about the Cold War and the Soviets (she's fighting for freedom, just like the CIA in 1989 definitely was!), but I kind of expected that. But honestly, if you're going to bother with a twist, you might as well have one that actually means anything- as is, it just makes the British look incredibly stupid, since they were obsessed with hunting down a mole who was evidently only passing bad intel along to the Soviets. Shouldn't they know the mole wasn't doing any harm?
It's weird that you think this movie requires a sincere anything. This is more a riff on a certain kind of spy movie than a sincere example of it. Part of doing such a riff involves using a political situation that doesn't need anyone to feel one way or the other about anymore (tho' the DDR police state deserves what ugly things can be said about it). Most especially because, like many spy films from around the time of reunification, the real bad guys are the ones conspiring to foil reunification and keep the divisions alive for their own personal gain, not the main governments of this or that nation.

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domino harvey
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Re: Atomic Blonde (David Leitch, 2017)

#12 Post by domino harvey » Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:16 pm

I should have listened to mfunk (!)-- this was awful, and a good cautious example of false aesthetic style masquerading as some kind of vision. Dumb, dumb, dumb action scenes that have no suspense or thrills and some of the most obvious "twists" you'll ever see. The central fake long take sequence is such a cop-out-- there are numerous obvious seams and the brutality is distasteful and disturbingly fetishistic. Compared to the comparatively smaller scale but far more impressive one shot subway fight in Hanna, this is a joke. This was like watching a Jason movie-- Theron is inhuman and completely immortal in her gunplay et al, and thus boring.

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Re: Atomic Blonde (David Leitch, 2017)

#13 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:13 pm

domino harvey wrote:mfunk (!)
Hey!

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Re: Atomic Blonde (David Leitch, 2017)

#14 Post by JamesF » Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:28 pm

Not much to add, except the soundtrack is swiped pretty much wholesale from other, better films I sat there thinking I'd have rather been watching instead, not least Grosse Pointe Blank.

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