22 October 2017

Kick My Brains Around The Floor

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Atomic Blonde's stench is so thick with the intoxicating funk of the 1980's that it feels like you've fallen asleep on a post-rave David Hasselhoff and then suffocated to death on the fumes of his hair spray. From one half of the directing duo behind the unquestionably brilliant John Wick, you might assume that this film will equally be a Charlize Theron-shaped kick to the bollocks. And you'd be right. However Atomic Blonde is also a German-set espionage adventure that takes place as the Berlin wall looks as likely to fall as a piss-head on a pogo-stick before he slurs the condemning phrase of, “wanna see something cool?” As such the story here isn't quite as streamlined as John Wick's “get the fuck away from my dog” simplicity with this sister film including a hint of John le CarrĂ© to go with its kick-ass John Woo-iness. Theron plays Broughton, an MI6 agent tasked with retrieving a stolen list containing the names of every single undercover agent that's currently on active duty. Or as the script, in our post-Mission: Impossible, Post-Skyfall world should probably have said, “insert cliched MacGuffin here”.

Not that its unoriginal story particularly matters because despite its convoluted plot Atomic Blonde is as much about its grungy neon lit style as anything else. The film both begins and ends with the seductive warblings of the alien-man-thing David Bowie and then fails to quieten down at any point between. A few of the movie's song choices are also a little cliched however when they serve as the icing on top of a cake that features Theron as she kicks the living fuck out of anybody attempting to get in her way I don't suppose I'll let it get to me. In fact we originally see Theron as she puts on her make-up to Bowie's song Cat People (Putting Out Fire) which is near on identical to when that piece of music was used in Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds. Although I don't suppose he's in a position to complain about being ripped off considering he's made an entire fucking career of doing it to other people. Even that song was originally for and used in the film Cat People in the first fucking place. If it wasn't for Baby Driver then in my humble opinion Atomic Blonde would hands down have the best soundtrack of the year. This is despite the fact that my workplace insists we listen exclusively to a 1980's radio-station to the point that I now react to Duran Duran in the same way that a post-therapised Alec DeLarge does to a pair of fucking tits.

And speaking of a pair of fucking tits, it's worth noting that when we do first lay eyes on Theron's Broughton she's naked in her room and completely covered in bruises. By starting at the end of the story and having her recite events to her MI6 superior we spend the movie discovering how she acquired these injuries and it essentially boils down to her being completely fucking amazing. Atomic Blonde might be just as concerned with spinning its own twisty yarn however it knows how to deliver when it is time to jump into action mode. “But wait?” I hear you all shout with an ingrained sense of misogyny, “can a girl really dish a punch as hard as a guy can?”. To which the answer must surely be, “No... not according to this film”. Because one of the brilliant things about these fights is in that as perfectly choreographed and balletic as they may be they're also completely believable. When shit kicks off, Broughton's first instinct is to grab a weapon and so rather than expecting her to do a Kill Bill-esque 'one inch punch' she simply takes off her heels and aims the pointy bit at her attackers fucking eyes. When she needs to punch a big guy in the face she simply pops her keys between her fingers and spends the fight attempting to avoid the swings of his fist whilst occasionally piercing a hole into the side of his fucking face. To Theron, Tinker, Tailer, Soldier, Spy isn't so much a novel as it is a list of people she could fuck over without even batting an eye.

One of these people that she's never quite sure if she can trust is Percival, the MI6 agent-gone-native, as played by James McAvoy at his grungy-psycho best. In many ways Percival could have been his Filth's character's very own Tyler Durden had the position not already been potentially filled. Both characters have a maniacal rage in which their violent nature exposes the fear that motivates their aggressive persona. They've also both essentially become corrupted into using the privileged position of their job, twisting events around them to suit their own selfish needs. Oh.. and both take huge advantage of a character played by Eddie Marsan. Although unlike in Filth, that doesn't mean that his Atomic Blonde will put on a Frank Sidebottom voice and trick Marsan's wife into dirty talking him over the phone. However as good as he is here, this film really does belong to Charlize Theron who appears to be taking on such cool and inevitably iconic action roles that you'd think she was the reincarnation of Sigourney Weaver. If it wasn't for the obvious catch that Sigourney Weaver is still alive and well and truly still fucking kicking.

To say that Atomic Blonde will change cinema forever is obviously far from the truth with the movie even struggling to tell its own story in a completely coherent way. However as a two hour explosion of style and sass, it's the cinematic equivalent of a big 'fuck you' and the most fun you can have whilst keeping your pants on. Unless your cinema trips end in the same way as Fred Willard and Pee Wee Herman's with both getting caught during a cheeky-tug in which case Atomic Blonde might just be the most fun you can have. I'm not sure that this film particularly sets itself up for a sequel very well based on how it ends however it seems that all involved are up for it and if the results can be replicated then I'm more than up for it. This is the second action film I've seen this year to feature Theron with the first being Fast And Furious 8 in which she essentially just stood behind a computer and let Vin Diesel do all of the action. However compared to how cool, brilliant, and believable she is here, Vin Diesel really does look like he has more in common with a potato rolling down a hill as he does with her and her action credentials. Thanks for reading motherfuckers and see you next time.

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