After seeing the trailer for “Atomic Blonde” preceeding “Wonder Woman”, I was on a mission to read the graphic novel that inspired the film. I was barely 10 years old when I watched the Berlin Wall fall on TV. I remembered watching music videos on MTV when it was still a nascent cable channel filled with androgynous, neon glamour. “Atomic Blonde” brought all of these memories flooding back. Seeing Charlize Theron’s atomic blonde hair whipping around the screen to Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” plucked at my nostalgic heartstrings. I imagine this was exactly the desired effect by the movie’s marketing. MUST. SEE. THIS. MOVIE.
I immediately picked up “The Coldest City” and “The Coldest Winter” and devoured them as quickly as possible. Both books were illustrated completely in black and white, and reminiscent of film noir storyboards. Artsy panels of shadowy figures and silhouettes of guns, mustaches, and big glasses painted evocative scenes of deception and betrayal. You could almost smell the gun oil and cigarette smoke rising off the pages. Questions were left up to the imagination of reader to answer; however, the movie, refreshingly, neatly packaged answers to those questions.
Charlize Theron has never shied away from an action sequence, and she does not disappoint her audience in the brutal, unrelenting punishment she doles out to her fellow dealers in secrets. If her action movies do not immediately come to mind, please refer to her previous work in “Aeon Flux” as the titular character and “Mad Max: Fury Road” as Imperator Furiosa. Director David Leitch is well-known and well-respected for his lengthy career as a stunt double as well as his elaborate, extended fight sequences as a fight choreographer. The epic fight sequences reflect his experience and his skill at teasing out the best performance from his actors, so much so that Charlize Theron cracked two teeth while shooting an intense fight sequence.
Despite having read both graphic novels, the movie expanded beyond the borders of the bookbindings. There was more of everything, more fight scenes, more intrigue, more answers, more story, and more modern romance. The utter cleverness of every move and countermeasure was executed with precision. The action synchronized almost exactly in time to the perfectly appointed soundtrack. The cinematography contrasted the luxury and abundance of the West against the envious longing found in the East’s meager existence. Every visual was beautiful – grimy, gritty, and beautiful. The visuals were far more polished and far less sweaty than the ‘80s probably were, but the movie was a feast for the eyes, ears, and bloodlust.
With “Wonder Woman” still on the brain, I could not help but see Lorraine Broughton as the anti-hero to Diana Prince’s superhero the more I watched. Lorraine’s platinum blonde hair seemed almost in direct contrast to Diana’s black tresses. Diana’s pursuit of world peace through love and honesty appeared to be at the absolute other end of the spectrum from Lorraine simply trying to prevent the entire world from going to absolute s**t by any means necessary. Diana lived clean and highly disciplined where Lorraine’s was vodka-fueled, and tobacco smoke was life-giving breath. As different as the characters of Lorraine and Diana were, I loved them both for being strong, multi-dimensional characters that kicked so much ass.