Sunday, July 30, 2017

Atomic Blonde (Light Spoilers)

Hum a Depeche Mode song while looking at this picture and save yourself eight bucks.
Atomic Blonde lost me very quickly, and no number of very competently designed and produced action sequences could get me back.

To me, Atomic Blonce is the anti-Baby-Driver. They're both stylish action movies with a big soundtrack. But Baby Driver seems effortless and breezy, and Atomic Blonde is strained and heavy.

It's trying SO HARD. And the soundtrack is a huge, intrusive part of it. It's set in 1989 around the fall of the Berlin Wall, and it includes not one, but two different versions of 99 Luftballoons. Fuck you, Atomic Blonde. It has a German version of Major Tom (for no discernable reason) and yet the English version of Der Kommissar. To drown out possible bugs, they play "Voices Carry", for fuck's sake. It's irritating.

The movie's tone is all over the place, too. It's not what the trailer wants you to think it is. I wish it had been. That over the top, garishly exploitative feel of the trailer gets spread thin throughout the entire movie, diluting it to the point of detraction. The rest of the movie is Twisty Turny Quintuple Crossing Spy Shit, which I could have gotten into had they played that throughout, but instead it keeps feeling like maybe the movie's about to break out into the movie the trailer thinks it is, and it never does.

I was constantly wondering whether the movie wanted me to take it seriously, and I'm pretty sure, by the end, the answer was "yes", but it was way too late for that.

All that said, it's not an awful movie. All the action sequences are super competently designed and executed, including a one-shot wonder in and out of a building, focusing on its staircase. Most of the other set pieces (and bits of that one) are included in the trailers, which doesn't help, but it's still well done. And the acting is solid.

 But the script's a mess. It somehow works a fridging into a woman-led action movie (two if you count the one you know about from the trailer and don't care about gender). The last five minutes of the movie is a double-twist-reveal that does not land at all. I can't imagine the plot would hold up to the faintest bit of analysis. Which you can't do during the movie because you're brain is still being pummeled by late 80's Europop.

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