Atomic Blonde

Atomic Blonde photo
Photo by D. Tempesta

I had a hard time finding which movie I wanted to watch this week. I ultimately decided on Atomic Blonde for two reasons. It was intentionally different, which I hoped would provide an interesting perspective on our culture. And everything I have watched/read talks about how Charlize Theron did almost all of her own stunts. I have a great respect for actors willing to do so. I was not disappointed on either of these fronts. However, I was pleasantly surprised with how good Atomic Blonde was overall.

The best part of Atomic Blonde was definitely Charlize Theron and her character Lorraine Broughton. Lorraine controlled every situation she was in, a fact that becomes even more clear with the conclusion of the movie. Before she even arrived in Berlin, people were lined up to kill her. Yet Lorraine was able to kill, maim, and outsmart her way through every disadvantaged situation, all while looking awesome. Not only did Lorraine survive, but she expertly executed her own agenda. This was a movie that operated on several different levels. Throughout the film, we think that Lorraine, Percival, and Bremovych are all operating on the same level. Clearly, each has their own objective, but, until Percival obtains the list, there is no reason to think anyone is really ahead of anyone else. Once he obtains the list, we think Percival has outplayed both Lorraine and Bremovych. A presumption designed to look like fact, fortified further by Lorraine’s frantic search for a bug in her hotel room and Delphine’s death (we’ll come back to this). Here, it looks as if Percival is operating on the second level while Lorraine and Bremovych are stuck on the first. This quickly changes with the ending of the movie. The conclusion reveals there is a third level to this game, and Lorraine and Emmett Kurzfeld are the only two playing the game on this supreme level. But this movie isn’t at all about Kurzfeld; it is about Lorraine Broughton’s superiority in the spy world. Nothing quite says, “I am better than you” like outsmarting a dirty agent, framing him as an already known double agent, actually being that double agent yourself, double-crossing the Russians, escaping your own execution by killing said Russians, ultimately double-crossing the British, and returning home to America with the original piece of intel that started all this. As a bonus, Lorraine executed this with spectacular style.

My only hesitation with the movie is the storytelling in the first 45 minutes. The movie itself just seems lost and has a hard time finding its footing. Admittedly, 45 minutes is much longer than necessary to lose the interest of the audience. However, where the storytelling falls short I find the character development, acting, and action more than make up for it. James McAvoy was spectacular, as expected. But, again, this movie is about Lorraine, and Charlize Theron does a great job portraying the character of Lorraine. Just as Lorraine controls every situation she finds herself in, Theron commanded every scene she was in. She never hesitated to make and hold eye contact. Her walk and posture were filled with certainty. And not once did she apologize. From the perspective of good storytelling and character creation, I think Lorraine’s relationship with Delphine added to this. Delphine being young and inexperienced allowed Lorraine to carry her in control nature into the relationship. On the other hand, Delphine was the only part of the movie that could not be foreseen by Lorraine, both their relationship and her death. Seeing Lorraine react to each of these allows a depth to her character that we would not have gotten otherwise.

Just as a bad ending can ruin an otherwise spectacular movie, so can a great ending make a good movie even better. I definitely believe that to be what happened with Atomic Blonde. Around the time of Percival’s speech (which was perfect), I was thinking about how I had rather enjoyed the film. Then the ending happened, and I was completely impressed, furthering my enjoyment. The added complexity and unpredictability were spectacular. The ending made it so the movie did not need to rely as heavily on action and actors but had a solid story to back itself up. And it showed that Lorraine was actually way more powerful than we ever expected. Movies like Atomic Blonde and Wonder Woman make me realize how important representation in cinema is. I, a male, felt powerful after watching each of these, especially after Lorraine’s final line to Bremovych. If women can relate even more to these movies, then I am glad we are making them and would love to see more.

My name is Chuck, and these are my thoughts. Now I would like to know what you think. Did you find the movie as a whole to be successful? What did you think of Lorraine? Would you like to see more of her story, or do you think one movie was enough? Leave a comment down below, and we’ll talk. Enjoy the day!


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