“Atomic Blonde” Fills the Hole Left By “Kill Bill”

Movies led by strong women get overlooked for years and suddenly, whoo-hoo, everyone who’s everyone claims to love them.

Kill Bill when it came out? People of all ages I knew called it weird. My dad saw both volumes in theatres and liked them but wound up loving them once they arrived onto pay movie channels on regular rotation. Atomic Blonde is going to be the next Kill Bill to people. Mark my words. The film structure is very much all riding on this woman being this bad ass spy with no real connection to finding love. So few female driven action movies are made for an R rated audience. These two film worlds share that. 

Past the basics, this movie has nothing in common with Kill Bill. I feel we get to see Charlize Theron shine as an action girl for the first time here we saw a bit of a preview in Mad Max: Fury Road. Never before has she taken on a role so aggressive and sexy in the same moment. She’s like a Barbie doll you wish you could be for a day. Not once did I get the impression she or her only other main female co-star felt exploited in the sexy scenes. Very important. You need to talk about this because so often, our actresses do feel like they aren’t at ease and you can see that’s forever captured on film. 

The soundtrack is pretty cool if you are into 80’s music. Stream that when you’re done. ;) 

As for action sequences, I can talk a bit without giving away the plot and excite you about them. My personal favorite of them all is the end sequence where she is looking hot in the brown wig like I only wish I could in a bob and fail. The camera follows her every move as she is inside a beautiful hotel suite thrashing down all of these baddies on her own. No cuts. The other scene I really loved was this probably ten minutes long or longer grimy East Berlin building set. In the derelict structure, she, without talking, because action movies typically have a girl saying “take that” super cheeseball, Charlize takes on a lot of bad guys one by one realistically. She fails in some parts and comes back winning. 

Online, some reviewers said they enjoyed how the movie uses everyday objects to hit people. Women are not built like men and therefore cannot fight like them. I did notice that somewhat in the movie although everyone took part in the objects and not Charlize’s lead girl limiting herself to them. 

Let’s talk about the lighting! The neon is really cool. At parts, you have this almost blue Instagammy filter on Charlize. Whoever did these lighting setups, you deserve lots of cash in your bank every day this year for your efforts. And a cherry pie. Yes, a really good cherry pie made from scratch.  The movie isn’t beautiful but beautiful in its coolness if that’s something you understand. There is this almost branded look to the film where if next year, someone else uses it, it’s going to be downright theft.

We should discuss how important Charlize is to this movie. Someone else wouldn’t carry the film. The role, you’ll say, yeah, action girls don’t have to be good actresses. I disagree. An action girl needs to be someone special you can’t imagine having replaced. If action lead girls were irrelevant, we wouldn’t see awfulness like some of the women we see in action/disaster movies I won’t name so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings. Looks alone will not make you an action starlet.  Charlize seems to have it within her soul to be tough, scary, mean, hot, smart, bitchy, sneaky, intellectual, all this role is, on her own terms outside of acting. She produced this movie! Did you know that? She’s someone you could picture on her own being the actual Atomic Blonde going to buy juice. I feel, and sorry if you disagree, to be a good action girl, you need that personality in your daily life or you will fail. I’m thinking in my head this one pretty girl who’s awful and comes off dull in reality who, surprise to no one, is dull as an actress, she who basically ruined a talented filmmaker’s action-lite movie. People take it out on the director like it’s his fault he assumed pretty means she can carry a film due to having few spoken lines.

Watch this movie. You’ll see what I mean on how good Charlize Theron is here. The Oscars don’t nominate action stars frequently and really should. The Academy needs a category for this. Call it OTHER. Anything. Because it’s unfair to suggest Kate Winslet in The Reader, which I just reviewed, isn’t on an equal level with Charlize in Atomic Blonde. One day, right?  We shall get that secondary category.

I appreciated here that not one moment was Charlize playing dumb. You’ll see that in the Charlie’s Angels movies. The girls act like bimbos a bit too much. I feel bad throwing shade at them because I privately love them and love Drew Barrymore. Yeah. My pet peeve about those movies. Atomic Blonde sees Charlize as a woman who doesn’t always make the best decisions she could yet doesn’t act like a moron.  Please, name me a movie starring an action heroine that doesn’t cover comic books in the past years and has a smart girl in it. Can you?

In 2017, people either liked or hated this movie. In 2037, you’ll all look back on this like it’s the original Blade Runner. Remember this review when you do. You will owe me a bunch of salty McDonald’s fries for being right.