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Blu-ray Review: Atomic Blonde

November 9, 2017 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
Atomic BlondeSo, uh, spy here often?

Into the realm of James Bond and John Wick comes Atomic Blonde, a spy thriller set in the late ’80s and based on the graphic novel The Coldest City. Universal Pictures tabbed longtime stuntman David Leitch, who worked on the original John Wick, to direct the project and inserted Charlize Theron to headline a distinguished cast.

THE PLOT

Set in 1989 Berlin, shortly before Mr. Gorbachev tore down that wall, Atomic Blonde opens with the murder of an MI6 agent that was carrying a list of every field agent in the USSR. When the list doesn’t show up in KGB hands the spy community realizes the killer has taken it for themselves and is looking to ransom the item to the highest bidder.

Into this situation MI6 sends one of its top agents, Lorraine Broughton (Theron), to rendezvous with local contact David Percival (James McAvoy). Her arrival isn’t a surprise to the KGB, however, as they try to abduct her. She escapes and meets with Percival, and the two of them set to work on tracking down the list, or, failing that, smuggling Spyglass, the source of the information, out of East Berlin.

Beyond the list there is also the matter of a double agent know as Satchel, whose identity is unknown but is believed to be revealed on the list. As the various agencies try to obtain the list whilst thwarting their rivals, nobody can trust anyone else, setting up a complex web that Lorraine must navigate to accomplish her mission and get out alive.

THE GOOD

Let’s start with Theron, an accomplished actress with the physical credentials to look like someone that could actually hold their own with trained men in a fight. She was the perfect choice for this part, acting vulnerable one moment and completely badass the next. It’s such a solid performance we’re having trouble thinking of someone else that could’ve played it half as well.

One of the big differences between the film and the graphic novel is an increase in action, and though previews made Atomic Blonde look like another John Wick film the reality is much more interesting. The fights, while immaculately choreographed, retain an air of realism and spontaneity. Watching Theron become exhausted as fights drag on made her triumph all the more exciting.

As strong as the action is throughout, the no-cut tracking shot scene deserves singular praise. It’s on par with the best we’ve seen of this technique — such as True Detective Season 1 and Children of Men — and really draws you in as Lorraine tries to escape KGB agents in a multi-level apartment building. If you don’t get fired up for it, you don’t like action.

It’s easy to get caught up on the physical aspects, but the plot is solid as well. There are twists and turns aplenty, and the cast does a good job in their roles. Some actors appear in familiar turns, such as John Goodman and Toby Jones as intelligence officers, but that doesn’t diminish their work. McAvoy works as an uneasy ally for Theron, and Sofia Boutella continues to impress.

THE BAD

Leitch could’ve been more subtle with the soundtrack. Yes, we get it, it’s the ’80s, but it feels like pop-heavy tunes are over done to the point where they become the focus at the expense of whatever is happening on the screen. We’re sorry, there’s nothing particularly dramatic about ’80s pop no matter how much you remix it.

THE BONUS FEATURES

There are about 10 minutes of deleted/extended scenes to view, though it’s a pretty uninspiring lot with nothing of substance (action or plot) to be found. Sometimes you watch scenes that were cut and wonder why they didn’t make it. This is not one of those times.

Beyond that you get a pretty standard group of featurettes, expanding on the location, plot and so on. The best of these is the “Anatomy of a Fight Scene,” which chronicles the aforementioned long-take fight. It’s more interesting than most stunt-based extras and worth a watch.

OVERALL

Loaded with action, style and sex appeal, Atomic Blonde is simply a lot of fun to watch and joins the likes of Salt and The Long Kiss Goodnight as great female-led espionage films.

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Blu-ray Review: Annabelle: Creation

November 2, 2017 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
In the early 1940s, doll maker Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia; Without a Trace) and his wife Esther (Miranda Otto; Lord of the Rings) are living a simple life with their daughter, Annabelle. Returning home from church one day they get a flat tire, and while changing it Annabelle steps into the road where she is struck and killed by a passing car.
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Blu-ray Review: The House

October 8, 2017 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
There’s little wasted motion here with a runtime of less than 90 minutes, and the movie doesn’t try to have things make sense — such as how Frank’s house is transformed into a casino practically overnight. Instead, it just throws jokes, embarrassing situations and over-the-top interactions at you one after the other. Some fall flat, but the ridiculousness produces some legitimate belly laughs.
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Blu-ray Review: Transformers: The Last Knight

September 25, 2017 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
Much in the same vein as the Fast and Furious series, Transfomers films are about action first, second and third. On that front, The Last Knight is mostly a success. The CGI is very good, and the way it blends with natural scenery is the film’s high point.
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Blu-ray Review: Wonder Woman

September 18, 2017 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
Gadot’s portrayal of Wonder Woman is about as refreshing as you can find in the superhero genre. There’s no snark or darkness to her character. Instead she plays a sense of wonderment and innocence from being raised on an island away from the world’s realities without ever being exploited or made to look maliciously naive.
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