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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Atomic Blonde

Charlize Theron, after her role in Mad Max: Fury Road and now Atomic Blonde, seems to have settled into a role as premiere bad-ass female. Now 42and still a knockout, she's often played roles that required hand-to-hand combat and weaponry, but nothing so much as her role as Lorraine Broughton, an MI6 operative in Berlin as the wall came down.

The film doesn't have a lot new to say. I thought back to La Femme Nikita, from 1990, and there was Modesty Blaise before that. Theron did it herself in Aeon Flux in 1995. The more realistic and specific setting gives the film a patina of authenticity, although we get the usual Bond/Bourne habit of having our hero defeat many people single-handedly. It wasn't as bad as the Japanese segment of Kill Bill, but it will do.

Theron, right before the Berlin Wall comes down, is assigned to find a list of all agents that was hidden in a fellow spy's watch (this McGuffin is always ludicrous--why would any agency put all their names in the same place?). It was first in the hands of a Russian spy, who has put it in the open market. She is assisted by the English guy in Berlin, James McAvoy. But can she trust him? She's told to trust no one, so I guess not.

There's also a mole loose in British Intelligence. There's not a lot of people it can be, and I'm still not quite sure who it was. Also, in a more modern twist, Theron has the requisite spy-movie sex, but with another woman (Sofia Boutella), a French agent.

As much as these kids of films pop up--there are about four or five "female assassin" movies on the Black List, screenplays that are well-liked but not yet made, they don't do great business, which makes the success of Wonder Woman all the more remarkable (I'm of the opinion that upcoming Ocean's 8, with an all-female cast, will bomb). Theron plays the role as a very cool customer, hardly moving her lips. I don't know how many of her own stunts she did--if none of them, then she really hardly did anything here. But it's all very high in the spectrum of cool--I think the adolescent male likes the idea of a woman who can beat the shit out of a man, and so do women, but for different reasons. A sequel does not seem to be in the works, though.

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