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Atomic Blonde Review (2017) | Outstanding Action with a Weird Plot

Atomic Blonde is atomic to a certain extent, not so much with the story it tries to build itself upon. The flick fills you up with extreme indifference for its character building part that runs till we almost reach the ‘half-time’. You wish for the real action to begin, as promised and sold in the trailers, but unfortunately, it is holed up in its later section. By the time you are there, you are already knackered by its punishing story-line, its unusual pace, and impoverished editing style that leaves you parched for some real thrill. But the good news is that the action bit finally arrives, and when it arrives, you realize it is outrageously dope!

David Leitch‘s latest is based on the graphic novel The Coldest City by Antony Johnston. Atomic Blonde is trying to sell itself as an action flick. Unfortunately, the number of times you see our lead protagonist Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) fighting the bad guys – Next to three or four times max! That’s it. The movie then runs nay rambles with Theron trying (no she doesn’t have to try) to look badass in her cool getup as she saunters on the roads of Berlin.

Plot of Atomic Blonde (Spoilers Ahead)

There is nothing out of the extraordinary that the plot of Atomic Blonde offers. In fact, what makes it really confusing is the whole setup, the way its stories oscillate back and forth in two different timelines. Events of the actual plot is narrated by Lorraine herself and we often come back to her every now and then for doubts and confusion raised in by an MI6 guy Eric Gray (Toby Jones) and CIA agent Emmett Kurzfeld (John Goodman). What might vex some is ‘their’ placement in the story. It is not intelligently crafted or edited as it might sound from the sound of it, and ropes in the first sign of bewilderment.

movie scene from atomic blonde

For those who might have accidentally dozed off while watching, I have decided to sum up the plot of Atomic Blonde for you. The story begins with the prologue of MI6 agent James Gasciogne (Sam Hargrave) being shot by a KGB agent Yuri Bakhtin (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson) for a list that’s on a watch. The list is the name of all active agents in the Soviet Union. So whoever has that list clearly has an upper hand in the entire Spy Industry, not to mention any moron could sell that list for an insanely huge price to whoever he thinks should stay ahead of the curve.

Lorraine Broughton, another MI6 agent is ‘brought in’ by the authorities for questioning about her Berlin mission. Her mission was to recover the list and slay a double agent Satchel who has been a constant itch in the crotch selling their secrets to the Soviets.

Lorraine’s Story

The story that’s been narrated is Lorraine’s story reaffirmed by Eric and Emmett as the events unfold. According to her story (the story we witness), Lorraine is set up to meet David Percival (James McAvoy) another agent already in action in Berlin. She is ambushed there by the KGB associates of hooligan Aleksander Bremovych (Roland Moller). Percival swoops in to aid her after. After visiting the dead man Gasciogne’s house, she begins to suspect Percival to be Satchel, when she is made by West German police, since he was the only guy who knew about her whereabouts. Meanwhile, she encounters Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella) a French agent who is like the Jon Snow of the movie. She knows nothing!

There is this really busy Watchmaker (Til Schweiger) who sets up meetings with agents and stuff. Bakhtin approaches him with his intentions to sell the list, but as he is making his way back he is killed by Percival who retrieves the list. Percival meets Bremovych with intentions to sell the list but is photographed in the process by Delphine. There is this Percival’s contact code-name Spyglass (Eddie Marsan) who has memorized the list and he is to be transferred along with his family across the border. Percival kills him and sends Bremovych’s man after him which Lorraine theatrically fights off in one of the most amazing fights of the entire flick. She is unable to save him though. Percival kills Delphine but ends up hunted down by Lorraine. She kills him and retrieves the list from him, although doesn’t admit so in front of authorities she was narrating the tale to.

The Ending Explained

Percival is painted as Satchel with the help of Delphine’s photographs by Lorraine and the case is closed. However, after a few days, we see a meeting being set up with Bremovych revealing Lorraine as Satchel. She doesn’t give him the real list though and before killing him admits that she had been manipulating everything right from the beginning. So right when you feel that Lorraine was always ending up getting the short end of the stick, we realize that she was, in fact, duping everybody. Okay!

On a private jet with Kurzfeld where we find him holding the watch with the list, it is revealed that she wasn’t just a double agent but, in fact, a triple agent! Whoa! That escalated pretty quickly.

The Amazing Fighting Scene in Atomic Blonde

Let’s talk about that peerless mind-boggling fighting scene in Atomic Blonde. The real talent of David Leitch as a great stuntman cum action director is revealed in that relentless breathtaking fighting sequence where Lorraine tries her level best to save Spyglass from Bremovych’s men. It is one continuous shot of an epic showdown that stops you from actually regretting to watch the movie. The sequence will make you jump on your seat. It is so good!

atomic blonde movie still

There is a certain rawness in that scene, where you feel the real exhilarating adrenaline rush. Walls get painted, Gore gets reworded, as Leitch moves alongside the demolished actors, shooting them nevertheless, as they literally rip each other apart piece by piece. It is hard not to applaud him for letting us achieve a theatrical action orgasm.

Watch out for that bit!

You can order Atomic Blonde from here:

The Fuming Questions

If you have watched Atomic Blonde, I know the first fuming question you must be having secretively at all times in the back of your head – “Who really cares about the list?” I know coz I didn’t really care at one point. And I often said, “Oh Cmon!” when the story didn’t ever come across a subtlety meter. While the creators decided to rotate an entire story around a watch that has the list, you can’t help but wonder why it is such an ingenious thing to do.

Why is there such a childish climax?

Just when you thought there was a good climax at the end revealing Lorraine as Satchel, in comes another one – she is a triple agent too. Paul Goodman, the good man he pretended to be, turns out he was just feigning it all, just like Lorraine trying to be super dumb in her tale, playing too dumb for a spy.

Then there is the question about being the smart one.

There is Lorraine’s unconvincing story you know. For the better part of the movie, we see Lorraine moving about the city of Berlin in shades, literally beating about the bush for her mission, falling in love with Delphine and doing really nothing to get closer to the truth. She is waiting for the truth to be delivered to her. She was failing her mission at all junctures. It makes her character really implausible to watch.

The Final Verdict

Atomic Blonde bores you in the beginning but when it tries to delve into action it becomes really exciting to watch. By the time you reach one of the most rad action scenes of all times, you realize you are thoroughly enjoying it. If it were not for its weird storyline and the indifference that it fills you up with owing to its yawning start, this movie could actually be called a good action flick.

With David Leitch’s involvement here, comparisons to John Wick are only quite natural. The good thing here is that at least Leitch worked on the story here, clearly, he didn’t do enough or maybe overdid himself au contraire to the first John Wick part. While a lot of people argued on the lines that you don’t need a story when you are trying to show just action, when the first part was shown, I would love to hear what they have to say about this movie where the action is quite frankly limited and the story building is just too much of building.

Check out the trailer of Atomic Blonde movie:

The Fate of the Furious Review (2017) | What it was and What it will be

The Fate of the Furious is more or less what the franchise is, and has always been about. There is no changing that. What continuously changes is the story. There is one primal plot in every flick that stands like a nub to steer the story. Since we need to keep the franchise up and running for it’s been ridiculously successful, studios are trying their level best to blow our minds. And in doing that they are leaving no stones unturned, no enclaves untrodden.

Luckily the magic formula is still working. As long as the audience is entertained, and the producers are making tons, who’s complaining?

Yet another installment that’s brimming up with death-defying stunts, mind-boggling action, eye-popping theatrics, cool jests, classy melodrama and some exhilarating adrenaline pumping action, The Fate of the Furious is everything you wish to see in the Furious universe.

Theme and Plot of The Fate of the Furious

Just two minutes in the movie and you realize it’s going to pack in tons of cheesy stuff. That it’s going to be full of it and that we should probably brace ourselves for that dumb impact. But surprisingly the movie rises up from its ashes the moment it begins to put on a show. Who saves it? It wouldn’t be wrong to say Dominic Toretto, the awesome Vin Diesel.

The one huge steer we have here is, “What if Dom goes rogue?” And I am pretty sure a room full of producers and writers might have gone nuts with that very thought. They found a way to make it happen, and they didn’t even have to use a cyborg chip, or Poison Ivy magic to hypnotize Dom. Dom does it all pretty convincingly like a robot following orders taking hell from Cipher, the stunning 41 years old showstopper Charlize Theron. Hell she could have convinced anyone to do just about anything sans conditions.

still of charlize theron as cipher and vin diesel as dom in the fate of the furious

So Dom falls like a domino rampaging everything that comes his way, turning his back on the one thing he loves the most – su familia!

And it isn’t a pleasant sight for anyone. It’s the worst for Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). One of the most impactful drama lies in the wake of the repercussions when he comes face to face with Letty on two occasions. Each time you can’t help but feel sorry for her when she fails to fathom why Dom’s become a leering bastard all of a sudden.

The movie becomes then an affair to understand Dom, to stop him from doing something awful, and failing at it of course, and then eventually being helped by him when things are all sorted out. All of this, of course, stands in their usual chaotic playground of fascinating action.

Exquisite Wrap (Spoilers Ahead)

The Fate of the Furious is strewn with four major action extravaganzas that happen like their regular jobs, only this time the perpetrator is none other than Dom himself. Others are simply trying to stop him to figure out the what, and the why, they have been hit with.

The first one happens with the main betrayal, EMP getting stolen right from underneath the unsuspecting nose of Hobbs. The second one happens at his Team’s headquarters, from where he walks in like the badass hero he is, to grab the God’s Eye. The third one happens at New York with the stealing of Nuclear launch codes, and the last one in Russia where the actual EMP is brought to use to take control of a submarine that holds weapons of mass destruction. The great thing about all of it is that there is a plausible reason for everything. The creators are constantly spending a good deal of thought in whatever they are doing. So, that’s commendable.

Racking Action

Some of the movie’s best fight scenes are delivered by the body decimating machine Hobbs, and the Parkour fighting specialist Deckard played by Jason Statham. While it’s a delight to watch Hobbs slither into his full “The Rock” mode delivering Rock Bottoms out of nowhere, forcing the WWE community to miss him even more, it’s an equal delight to watch Deckard kick some more ass. One of the best fight sequences is, hands down, the prison bit when both of them are desperate to get a piece of each other.

Roman is just as great with words as he has always been, making everything appear effortless with his innate flair. Little Nobody played by Scott Eastwood was a pleasant addition although he was mostly patronized for the better part of the flick.

There is this elongated section where a foreign minister is attacked by hacked cars. Though absurd as it might sound, or how it appears, it has been brilliantly pulled off. To achieve something so huge on such a colossal level, that’s something! It is one bit that you might remember the movie by for a really long time.

It is, however, hard to beat the final lines of Dom, when he names the baby Brian as a tribute to his bestie Paul Walker. You can’t help but feel satisfied with that apt icing.

You can order The Fate and the Furious here:

Weird Stuff

As always there are a lot of things that remain oddly placed here as well. Like how Dom still fails to even scathe himself even after being in an accident. Fire doesn’t bother him. His Godly powers still eludes us. If only someone walks in one day and says he isn’t human.

Then there are laws of physics that the franchise has never really cared about. You see when you are involved in a ridiculous action movie, clearly it is always about how and why you have ended up there in the first place. Yes, you weren’t paying attention in the class.

There are absurd loopholes aplenty, badly written comebacks at times. Deckard single-handedly bringing a flight full of hooligans down as bullets are flung around, and he is carrying a frigging baby at all times with him. Like how safe is that? Things aren’t made worse when he keeps taking pit stops to talk with the baby on numerous occasions. Ah! the cheap thrills!

Worst is when subplots are deliberately shoehorned to tell us what had happened in the past, and it is like a to and fro motion to tell us exactly how things went down not leaving anything for viewer imagination. Even during the submarine stint, bullets never hit the target; villains remain like dispensable stormtroopers.

2015’s Fast 7 had panned out better owing to that gut-wrenching Paul Walker quotient. The Fate of the Furious was all left to the mercy of Dom’s turning on his family.

The Final Verdict

It’s the USP of the Furious that sells this franchise. Keeping Dom at the center of the action, like a beacon that shows light. Everyone, nay, everything revolves around him, and you know it when you see him as this epitome of power that’s hard to challenge. You don’t mess with him, no matter on which side of the court you are. Period.

You see him do the unthinkable with his muscle revving beast. He wheelies his Dodge Charger too, and it is hard not to go crazy when he does. There are tons of thrilling action scenes waiting at random junctures that will make you jump on your seats. It is just sad that you see everything coming all along.

The Fate of the Furious is yet another insane and inane part that will blindly entertain you. It is trickling down with extraordinary action, and Hobbs, Deckard and Dom make it worth every penny. Rest of the cast end up getting clouded, and that’s both sad and bad.

That being said we all know how the sequel is going to deliver, and how are things going to be. Nothing much changes around here. Even though it’s fantastic, it is becoming a daft charade. I just wonder what if every possible action run runs out, would things be as thrilling?

You can check out the trailer of The Fate of the Furious here:

Kubo and the Two Strings Review (2016) | Bewitching Animation

Words bereave me as I try to put this one together. Kubo and the Two Strings had me mesmerized. And not just by its breathtaking realism, but by the calm in its thoughtful direction, and the peerless work that it tagged along. Very satisfying!

The movie forever carries a hint of grim element, and is not afraid to walk across dark enclaves in order to provide us with an amazing tale of a one-eyed young boy named Kubo who is on a magical quest to find his father’s armour to defeat a wicked Moon King.

Extraordinary Animation

Looking at the animation of the movie, you can’t help but wonder – Can stop motion really reach such fascinating levels of allure? Well, Kubo and the Two Strings surpasses all! Who makes that possible? None other than Travis Knight the lead animator, also the actual mind behind exceptional movies like Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls.

You can’t applaud Travis Knight enough. Apart from the fact that he can ace Herculean jobs as an animator, he can also direct better than most of the directors out there. So, he proves with his sharp presence of mind. The transition of frames happens through walking into a tree or a wall. And it does so with such a peaceful nimble snap that it is hard to tell if the frame had actually changed in that teensy swift scale.

What I also loved about Travis’s direction was how he imparted Kubo and the Two Strings with a charming gait. The movie is literally abounding with focus. It lets you feast on every single frame letting things percolate beautifully. You can perceive minuscule details in his frames, and that’s what makes his frames stunning to look at. Owing to that, even though Kubo and the Two Strings banks on a fictitious tale for its plot, the movie doesn’t falter at all at any point.

Plot of Kubo and the Two Strings

The story is more of a fantastical take set against the backdrop of ancient Japan. One-eyed Kubo takes care of his ill mother. He uses a Shamisen to bring inanimate papers to life. He performs in a nearby village to get himself and his mother by.

If you must blink, do it now. Pay careful attention to everything you see and hear, no matter how unusual it may seem. And please be warned, if you fidget, if you look away, if you forget any part of what I tell you, even for an instant, then our hero will surely perish.

Kubo is a storyteller and he barely knows his past. In her mother’s ephemeral jovial moments is he able to fill himself up with stories of the past. He is fascinated by tales of his father and yearns to meet him in person. But her mother warns him not to venture out when it’s dark coz that’s when the moonlight shines bright meaning the Moon King, his grandfather and his aunties might see him. His mother tells him that they are after his other eye, and that this rule be followed at all costs.

One fine day however in an attempt to rekindle with his father’s soul, Kubo ends up staying out late.

I just wish you were here, so I could talk to you, see you, find out what I should do.

A big mistake! That’s when the attack of the aunties happen. His mother pays the price for it as she intervenes just when things were about to go south. She saves him asking him to find an armour, the only way that can possibly defeat the evil Moon King.

Ensuing Magical World

still of monkey and kubo in kubo and the two strings movie

As Kubo wakes from a tumultuous backdrop, he finds a monkey voiced by Charlize Theron calling out his name. He realizes that the monkey was in fact none other than a toy he used to carry around with him at all times. The talking monkey tells him that she was brought to life by his mother before she died. The only thing Kubo is left with is a strand of her mother’s hair.

This bracelet, her hair, it’s a memory. And memories are powerful things, Kubo. Never lose it.

On their quest to find the armour they find a human soul trapped inside a beetle. He claims to be working for his father Tatsu but isn’t sure because of a memory wipe out scene.

Thus the ultimate quest begins to find armour elements that are placed at unusual places, as magic and perversion from Moon King and his mother’s sisters try to stop them from achieving that goal. In a life that had reeked of loneliness almost all the time, Kubo reflects of how amazing it was for him to be a part of someone’s company, with:

I have never had a meal sitting between anyone before.

Sentient Kubo

Kubo is so thoughtful that it syncs you instantly with his feelings. His one eye can grasp little things that are of colossal import to him and you can’t applaud him enough for that.

Sometimes I would tell my mother stories about little things. Like skimming rocks across the river or catching fireflies in the mulberry fields. And when I told those stories, I could see her eyes were mostly clear. I could tell she saw me. Really saw me. I could see her, too. Her real self. Her spirit trying to fight its way out. It was beautiful.

Tiny lippy movements of the protagonist are so beautifully done that it almost makes you feel as if he is an extant creature.

You have to give it to Tatsu voiced by Matthew McConaughey who makes his character even more lovable. The story of his mother that climaxes with:

You are my quest.

and which is soon followed by:

I had seen the wonders of the universe, but the warmth of his gaze as I looked into his eyes. That, that I had never known. It was his humanity I saw. And it was more powerful than anything in my cold realm.

brings power in his story and it makes it even more warm.

still of all characters from kubo and the two strings movie

Then it has that contemplative paragon of a song as well which is depicted by flying golden heron that are believed to carry the soul of the departed.

How do you see a song?

To which the reply goes:

You look.

That moon reflection, water droplets falling everything was beautifully imagined and executed.

Downsides

Trying to look at the downside, things escalate too quickly. For example you are not really prepared for a whimsical alteration, but then it happens which kind of kills the mood. And then the final bits with the Moon King doesn’t fill you up with wonder much since you are prepared for the cliched ending of the tale. There is nothing eye-candy like about it and you can’t help but wonder if the trouble to reach that grimy end justifies truly.

Also the fact that the gloom that comes right after when his parents get killed hasn’t been shown properly makes it even less plausible. The story however nibbles such drawbacks.

The Score of Kubo

What makes stop motion frames of Travis even better is Dario Marianelli‘s outstanding score. It imparts depth to his ethereal animation. It complements the actual story-line of Kubo, and gives much more meaning to it. Even when Kubo is simply walking down a forest or a desert there is always that beautiful composition playing wonders in the backcloth.

You can check out the trailer of Kubo and the Two Strings here:

 

Mad Max: Fury Road Review (2015)

“Hope is a mistake.”

Mad Max finally returns.

Madness Unleashed! Two hours of orgasmic insanity taken up on the vanguard by mind numbing action, melting music of high-octane engine revving, breathtaking inane takedowns, colossal beastly war machines that only speak of destruction, flying rad bikes that skim the dunes with pizzazz and the unceasing adrenaline rush that doesn’t let you settle down even for a sec! Ice that with crazy visuals, top-notch 3D and exceptional score and “Witness”!

There is madness in the air and you could literally see it. It is the right amount of dark that doesn’t touch gore but still goes on to show a lot of death. With dope visuals and swell 3D, Fury Road becomes a rare coup. It breathes on an outstanding plot, deadly stunts and constant punishing annihilation. Right from the prologue the movie starts packing in exquisite action. It further inches into more lunacy with its unique storyline that would beat your imagination.

George Miller’s beauty is less Max and more Furiosa. Max just happens to run into her muck. Primarily the tale of the furious Furiosa who is on her way towards her origin, driving a charging War Machine, hatching a secret in the beast and keeping her greasy eyes of hope wide open for redemption. Charlize Theron imparts Furiosa  an apt depth, something that only she could have done justice to. Nicholas Hoult does a memorable Nux who is downright nuts. Tom Hardy sways in the Max boots with his laconic act that entails kicking a lot of ass.

Miller’s subtlety plays extremely well with the score, as suddenly the vibrant beats stop for Max to reveal his name. You can also perceive the adroitness in his direction when he shows things from Furiosa’s perspective by manifesting Max’s return after taking care of The Bullet Farmer.

“It is not his blood.”

With the flick being an action feast, a lot of things remain unsaid. However, Miller makes sure that people still fathom and connect with trivial things like nods and gestures by slipping in the right amount of gravity.

This movie is one of the best action films I have seen in ages which not only carries an awesome storyline but also a throbbing joyride into mechanical awesomeness on the relentless Fury Road. I am planning on watching this beauty again. Loco stuff!