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Monday, August 21, 2017


Joe and I met in town yesterday to go to the movies and grab lunch. What’d we see? Atomic Blonde.
The basic story: Theron plays MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton, who’s dispatched to Berlin in the late fall of 1989 to retrieve information vital to the safety of Western intelligence officers. Another MI6 agent, James Gascoigne, had been in possession of a list containing the identities of every espionage officer in the city on both sides of the Cold War conflict. Gascoigne was chased down and killed by a Russian agent named Bakhtin (Jóhannes Jóhannesson), who took the list, and now MI6 wants it back. The Brits are extra-incentivized, because the list will tell them the identity of Satchel, an MI6 mole who has been working with the Russians. But as Broughton finds out as soon as she touches down, she’ll be wading through a sea of KGB, French intelligence, Stasi operatives, and even rogue members of her own organization in order to return the list to British custody. (source)
The movie starts out complicated and gets more so. Lorraine’s to meet and work with the Brit’s embedded station chief who, from the get go, seems dirty. There’s no romance – Lorraine’s much too smart for the charms of David Percival – and this is in no way a buddy flick. 

Though kick ass female protagonist was expected, I somehow – incredibly – missed that this would be a spy thriller. I thought it was gonna be a gritty super hero thing. Wie ist das möglich and ‘the fuck?  Most trailers don’t come with closed captioning – all I saw was Charlize Theron ferociously fighting baddies and pulling off a move or two that, well, Spiderman would be proud to claim. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Normally I’m not a fan of Mission Impossible/Bourne Identity/Fourth Protocol style movies. Too hard to follow and women are, more often than not, relegated to marginal roles – support or romance. Zzzzzzzzzzzz. Had I known it was an espionage story, would I have seen it anyway? Yeah probably. Theron could read the “How Mechanical Rubber Goods Are Made,” and make it interesting. Also too, I loved her in Mad Max: Fury Road.

Weirdly, I always confuse Theron with Scarlett Johansson. Do they often play similar characters or am I just easily confused – it's a puzzler in'nt?

In any case, Atomic Blonde was fabulous. I want to see it again when it comes out on vid. The story’s so intricately woven that I want to rewind and replay all the dialogue that zooms past. A libretto would be smart add too.

Here’s another thing – the soundtrack is unfuckingbelievably awesome. I’m pissed that I can only hear it in my head. It’s like a greatest hits from my 20s (more or less). There's 99 Luftballon, Voices Carry, Killer Queen, Under Pressure, Cat People (Putting Out Fire), Der Kommissar, Hungry Like the Wolf, Atomic (by Blondie, of course), London Calling, Moonage Daydream and so damn much more.

During the whole movie I kept thinking of an acquaintance, Kevin's close friend, roommate and fellow Cryptologic Language Analyst, Perry. He'd been a German linguist (Kevin was Hebrew and Arabic) and was stationed in Berlin when the wall fell – Atomic Blonde's time setting. Was this the world he lived in? I asked him once, "what was it like to be in Berlin when came down?" He replied that "it was a lot of fun for the first couple of days and then I just got tired of all the drunken revellers."

Not exactly the exploding, action packed crazy shown in the movie. I wonder where Perry is now.


  1. There’s no romance

    Don't forget Sofia Boutella.

    I agree that the storyline was intricate, and toward the end I found it hard to follow, but in all honesty that felt like a side issue. This is eye (and ear) candy. At a time when the nastiest of nasty real-world bad guys seem to be coming out of the woodwork everywhere, it's cathartic to watch Charlize Theron beating the living $#!T out of all these slimebuckets, set to great music from my era. The only way it could have been better is if the villains had been actual neo-Nazis. I'll be getting the DVD too when it comes out.

    This movie actually reminded me of Kill Bill. That's the only other movie I've seen which was so effective at aestheticizing so much violence.

    My only criticism is the fact that the movie killed off Sofia Boutella's character. We're well past the point where movies routinely depict homosexuality as evil or pathological, but killing off the gay character is a cliché they can't seem to shake.

    Still, it strikes me now that even though Broughton was obviously bisexual, it's just shown as and when her prior and current relationships arise organically -- not something strange or surprising or even worth remarking. It's just an ordinary thing about the character. That's where we are now, and that's progress.

    1. Sofia Boutella – YES! Her character was tremendous! I loved how their affair, that it was 2 women, was no big (though that sex scene was WOWOWOWOW). I imagine that any partner of Broughton's, no matter the gender, would've been offed – it struck me more as worn plot device than nod to the diehard unenlightened brigades.

      I haven't seen Kill Bill. I know, incredible. I think Jen and Oni have the DVD – maybe I'll pop that in the box later today.