We currently live in a world that is lucky enough to have not one but two John Wick films (Don’t get me started on my excitement for the upcoming third chapter and television series) so when I witnessed the first trailer for a female led, cold war set action flick staring Furiosa herself I was excited to say the least, especially after seeing that it was directed by one of the two people who directed the Keanu Reeves led action masterpiece. Even when the subsequent trailers were not as well produced as the initial one had been I still had my fingers crossed in the hopes of this being good. Fast forward through the months of impatient waiting and it was finally time for the show to begin.
Other review places, when describing this film, have used words and phrases such as ‘unrelenting’ and ‘thrill ride’ and ‘does not take the foot off the pedal for the entire film’. In certain scenes this is indeed true, however for the film as a whole they are a little misleading. Unlike its male, modern day sibling Atomic Blonde actually has a worthwhile espionage plot that takes up most of the first half, yes there are some very well choreographed fights (enough for me to whisper ‘fuck’ to myself on several occasions) interspersed here and there, but it is not as instant to the killing as John Wick had been. This is not a problem with the film itself but with how it has been marketed, especially with the comparison that I have now made several times looming over the film. It is when the film reaches the end of its second act that it really ramps up the ferocity and brings an action sequence that is truly incredible, especially as it is filmed to look like a single 10-minute tracking shot (although in reality is more than 40 shots cleverly edited together). If it had been marketed slightly differently I would have amended my expectations, instead I found the first part a bit jarring as, in all honesty, I had not expected it to be so plot heavy.
The plot itself is so-so, engaging enough if a little confusing as I constantly found myself trying to figure out who the people beating up Charlize Theron were, especially concerning what happens in the epilogue. But this did not take away my enjoyment. As soon as I figured out what kind of movie it was my happiness tripled. The fluid sexuality of the main character was also a nice surprise, especially as she seemed genuinely concerned for her female partner, however this film does fall into the trope that has affected a lot of LGBT characters in movies and TV, I won’t say what it is but you’ll know it when you see it. I don’t think this is done intentionally but it is still a bit of a bugger to witness it happen yet again in an apparently progressive media.
The performances are brilliant with some truly high class talent present throughout, although I would have liked more screen time given to Sofia Boutella (something that was also true of her recent stint as Ahmanet in The Mummy) especially seeing how her actions are integral to the ending. Charlize Theron continues to ride high on her BAMF status giving an incredibly subtle performance when not kicking the living shit out of all who cross her path. The fact that she does the majority of her stunts also help make the action sequences that much better and more realistic.
Overall this is a fantastic film with outstanding performances and some truly visceral fight scenes, only marred by the comparison heavy marketing it has received in the press.
Watch again? – Yes
Buy on Dvd/Blu Ray – Yes