Atomic Blonde

With so many superhero comic-books being turned into movies these days, you could be forgiven for feeling ‘comic-book fatigue’. Add to that are adaptations of graphic novels which are adult in tone. The latter is more interesting as it allows film-makers to further push the envelope in creativity and action. Based on the 2012 graphic novel ‘The Coldest City’, ‘Atomic Blonde’ is certainly filled with violent spectacle little seen elsewhere. It’s also a solid thriller with all involved diving into the story’s frenetic energy with imaginative gusto.

Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is a talented MI6 spy dispatched on a dangerous mission. It’s the eve of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and Lorraine is sent to investigate the mysterious killing of an undercover agent. Working with Berlin station Chief David Percival (James McAvoy), Lorraine uncovers a ruthless espionage ring. Determined to protect the West’s intelligence operation, the duo face their foes with lethal force.

Directed by David Leitch, ‘Atomic Blonde’ is a very enjoyable ride. A full-throttle blast of pure action, it’s a great showcase for Theron who has always been a very versatile performer with remarkable range. Here she is in full ‘action-chick’ mode with her character kicking villainous behinds with the best of them. Theron throws herself into the role and portrays her character’s determined spy well. She is well assisted by McAvoy’s shady performance with their co-stars making their roles more than one-dimensional architypes.

Whilst the action scenes are incredible, ‘Atomic Blonde’ succeeds due to its successful evocation of the era. You truly feel you are in the late 80’s and a part of an important moment in history. The real clips of the Berlin Wall’s demise interweaves well into the ‘reel’ narrative as the clock ticks towards getting the job done. The retro music soundtrack is pleasing to the ears and the film never lets up in providing a ton of dazzling stunts.

‘Atomic Blonde’ is a lot of fun. Female heroes are important and Theron capably ensures her role is added to this pantheon. Although ‘franchise fatigue’ can be wearying, one wouldn’t mind seeing another instalment featuring ‘Atomic Blonde’s feisty character who never refuses to take no for an answer.

Rating out of 10: 8


The problem with so many war movies is finding something new to say. Literally dozens have been set during both 20th century World Wars that distinguishing them is difficult. ‘Dunkirk’ gamely attempts to be different by focussing on an event within an enclosed setting. Directed by the current master of epic films Christopher Nolan, ‘Dunkirk’ is a spirited exploration of comradeship amidst one of the fiercest battles in World War 2.

Surrounded by the German army on the beaches of Dunkirk during the early stages of the Second World War, the allied soldiers face peril including fighter pilot Collins (Jack Lowden) and Alex (Harry Styles). Involved in an evacuation dubbed ‘Operation Dynamo’, overseen by Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branagh), the soldiers try to snatch victory from the jaws of potential defeat.

‘Dunkirk’ is essentially one long action sequence. Unlike other Nolan movies, it moves at a brisk pace without any slow spots. It charts its course from the opening moments and never lets go. That’s good as it immediately immerses the viewer into the dangerous battle for freedom and the turmoil the soldiers’ experience. Their banding together to fight the enemy and cope with the hostile conditions is starkly shown. These moments are given greater poignancy via the strong cast successfully conveying the soldier’s plight.

The best aspect of Nolan’s direction is he refuses to over-sentimentalise events. ‘Dunkirk’ isn’t an exercise in patriotic flag-waving, but a focussed study in the value of team-work in any situation. The location filming on the real Dunkirk beaches fully bring the authenticity the film requires in a movie thankfully devoid of bloody violence. It’s all about the people and the cinematography and all areas of production strive to ensure the soldier’s memories are done justice.

‘Dunkirk’ isn’t a boring history lesson and nor is it a gung-ho action yarn. It’s a movie about overcoming the odds without the clichéd elements such a phrase brings. Nolan has put aside his often ponderous cinematic ego and delivered a more thoughtful piece free of speeches but full of respect for those doing anything to survive war’s harsh gaze.

Rating out of 10: 8