How Charlize Theron Commanded that Insane 'Atomic Blonde' Fight Scene

Lorraine didn’t take dumb blonde jokes very well

Lorraine didn’t take dumb blonde jokes very well

It took eight trainers to prepare the actress for the role, and she did most of her own stunts.

Director David Leitch's "Atomic Blonde" strives to be a mysterious Reagan-age spy drama that has a 21st century feel because it has been infused with the aggressively excessive violence so pronounced in the world of graphic novels. Theron, who has a long history of elevating every movie she's in (check out her underrated turn in "Young Adult", or her delicious villain in "Snow White and the Huntsman"), deserves better. These scenes are very impressive because the action doesn't rely on lots of quick cuts - the fights are more carefully choreographed and while often very brutal - they are stunning to watch.

The turmoil of Berlin before the wall fell is a mere backdrop for this story of unsafe deceptions. And yet, while Stahelski continued on with the world-building and mad choreography of John Wick: Chapter 2, Leitch branched off to his own project, Atomic Blonde, an adaptation of the graphic novel series The Coldest Day.

I mostly liked "Atomic Blonde".

Mere moments after touching down in Germany, Broughton is fending off one baddie with a high heel while forcing another into crashing and flipping the vehicle they're riding in. With the identities and lives of her colleagues on the line, Lorraine partners up with Berlin station chief David Percival (James McAvoy), but his erratic behavior immediately draws her suspicion. Framed as a debriefing, the film is told as a series of flashbacks while Broughton recounts her time in Berlin to MI6 agent Eric Grey (Toby Jones) and Central Intelligence Agency agent Emmett Kurzfeld (John Goodman). The rest of the cast includes a variety of German and Russian agents, goons, etc. and all of the appropriate characters are developed enough to give you an understanding of what you're getting into. However, Theron is such a phenomenal presence as Lorraine Broughton, there's a very good chance that you're not going to give a single damn about the movie's weaker points. The visuals jump between bright neon and cold and gray.

The twists: Since this is a movie about spies lying to each other, every character is meant to be seen as at least semi-suspicious - even Broughton, which tees up both of Atomic's big reveals. The color palette reflects the downtrodden yet optimistic East/West Berlin in the time just before the wall came down.

It's dark yet colorful, action-packed yet steeped in John le Carré-style ethical intrigue, and feminist while mighty solicitous of the male gaze. He had a hand in a bit of the direction in John Wick, and that's pretty obvious with the way the action plays out here.

A fast and easy way to make your movie choice and it's all on one page. That really allowed Leitch to keep a closer shot of the action since they didn't have to cover for a stunt performer most of the time.

It's not that surprising that Charlize Theron has appeared in nearly no romantic comedies over the past two decades.

I'm glad you noticed that.

I've mentioned that the film takes place in 1989 Berlin a couple of times, and the soundtrack definitely reflects that time frame.

All along the way, curious decisions rob the film of the dramatic build it strains to achieve, be it the shallow pool of potential candidates for "Satchel" or the overused juxtaposition of murder soundtracked by '80s pop songs (a man is beaten to death with his skateboard by a KGB agent to the tune of Nena's "99 Luftballoons"). I think I even caught a quick David Hasselhoff reference in there somewhere.

Do not blink. You will be lost in the "Atomic Blonde" plot. Given that this is an action movie, those are the most important components.

James McAvoy and Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde.

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