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Review Atomic Blonde (2017): 16 minutes of fun. Everything else is terrible!

genre: action, mystery, thriller, espionage, comic book adaptation

David Leitch is best known for his work as stuntman and producer of the John Wick films. He apparently has directed some scenes of the first John Wick film and the short Deadpool: No Good Deed. He is also going to direct Deadpool 2. So it is safe to say that Atomic Blonde is the first proper film he has directed. Unfortunately it's a real mess and am a little worried what this means for Deadpool 2.

How this film has been getting so much praise is beyond me. Firstly for people expecting this to be similar to John Wick I will have to disappoint you. Only 16 minutes of action and few jokes is reminiscent of that. Everything else is a total bore. The spy plot is completely predictable and below average. The acting is average as well. Charlize Theron's role could have been played by anyone and still it would not have mattered. All this talk about her empowerment is rubbish. The people who claim this obviously don't know anything about action and the many female stars who have done it long before and so much better. The biggest problem of the film is that none of the characters in this film have any personality. Apart from the typical tropes concerning spies and agents, there is nothing that make them stand out. James McAvoy is wasted in this film and brings nothing new to the table. I found his involvement to be very disappointing. Sofia Boutella also has a small role and contrary to her previous parts is less physical. While I really like her and do think she has great potential, she still needs to improve her acting considerably for me to be impressed.

It would be very easy to blame this on the writing, but I don't think that would have solved the biggest problem. That is the poor direction of David Leitch. Perhaps this can be blamed on his inexperience, then again why does Hollywood keep attaching these poor directors to big projects like these? They apparently had faith in him. Sadly, this faith is unwarranted as David Leitch doesn't know how to direct non action scenes. But even his perspective on action is flawed. Yes, for the most part, he knows how to make an action scene exciting. The big action sequence that starts around 1:10 and the finale are truly exhilarating. The other action scenes however were average and dull. Why? Because they lacked context and motivation to make them more interesting. For some reason, they chose to tell the story as one big flashback. Main character Lorraine basically narrates the events that have transpired. While this set up can lead to suspense and tension, nothing is done story wise to misdirect you. At least nothing you won't see coming. The consequence is that a lot of the action scenes in the beginning lose all their impact because you already know how they are going to end. Not once do you feel there is something at stake. Strangely enough they must have realized this later in the film since suddenly you do feel that things matter. Besides, they were much better choreographed.  

What I also found astonishing was the lack of tone and ambiance. I know this film is being advertised as a throwback to the Eighties with it's setting and soundtrack, but not once did it make me feel nostalgic. Most of the songs had very little effect on the events or the characters. They easily could have played Nineties songs and the film would have remained the same. There is also very little to be noticed of the Cold War. A bit odd if you consider that the graphic novel (The Coldest City) this film is based on is all about that. Another curious decision was the lack of humour or awareness. Atomic Blonde takes itself far too seriously and completely ruins the potential fun factor.  I don't know if the graphic novel is this serious but it's obvious they have taken a lot of dramatic licence. They easily could have gone a little further and given us more jokes.  

Atomic Blonde is a huge disappointment and ultimately a giant waste of your time. I hope David Leitch will do better with Deadpool 2 but it doesn't look good.

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