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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 Man Who Knew Infinity Review (2015)

The Man Who Knew Infinity is a good biopic, not the greatest of ones, but does ample justice to the prodigy.

A BRIEF GLIMPSE INTO THE PAST

I remember reading an extraordinary account of Ramanujan from Hardy’s pages back in school, where he subtly described the genius he was and the valuable contribution he made to the Mathematical society. I distinctly remember G.H. Hardy’s thoughts what Ramanujan meant to him, and how impactful was the polymath to his life. Their friendship could be read through those pages I had the good hap of reading.

With that memory stick I went ambling to the theatres to see The Man Who Knew Infinity. To begin with the direction I must say, Matt Brown has a lot of ground to cover. You could see his inexperience through the way he chops off a frame. It leaves you almost baffled. He doesn’t concentrate much on the crucial elements that needs depicting but rather fleets from one cloud to another with a skittish head. There is no subtlety to his frames.

QUESTIONABLE STORYTELLING STYLE

The music in the movie doesn’t complement his work either. It is not at all powerful, and doesn’t ever reach a theatrical level at any juncture. Speaking of theatrics, there is none in the movie. So you can expect a very bland and insipid way of storytelling that will make you averse to the Ramanujan way of living almost instantly.

WHAT STILL WORKS FOR THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY

Despite all of the above, what tries to uplift The Man Who Knew Infinity? Who works the best? Jeremy Irons and Dev Patel hands down. Their acting prowess is a joy to watch. Au contraire, some actors we meet in the beginning are really pathetic in the acting department, exacerbated further by Brown’s direction. But then gradually the biopic picks up its pace and we see Jeremy Irons on a roll. His speeches are intelligently carved, and his reckless yet powerful voice does justice to all of them. Toby Jones as Littlewood was a pleasant genial companion. Jeremy Northam does a great Bertrand Russell as well.

AFFAIR WITH ORIGINALITY

The story doesn’t digress from the original which was a good thing. The number 1729 isn’t missed either. The setup however gets a little bit morphed there, but we can understand that was done for emphasis. The drama isn’t the touching kind.

THE RAMANUJAN FATE

It is unfortunate what happens to great men. S. Ramanujan couldn’t escape life’s unpredictable warps either, and ended up disappearing in a dire mist.

At the end I feel his life needs to be glorified a bit more. There was little we saw of his origins, and his progression towards his virtuoso which is a key factor into moulding a prodigy-biopic.

What Matt did with The Man Who Knew Infinity was good but what Ramanujan deserves is the best.