Atomic Blonde Review The Buff and The Blazer
David Leitch’s Atomic Blonde is another strong example of action done right. The film, in many ways is a sibling to the John Wick franchise. It utilizes the best elements of those films and adds new artistic qualities to brand new characters. Atomic Blonde utilizes stunning visuals in cinematography and color motifs to craft a film that looks like a real-life graphic novel. A wonderful use of 80s pop music complements those beautiful frames. Those visual and audio elements serve as a solid backdrop for one of the more stylish films in the action genre.
One of the first things you notice when watching Atomic Blonde is just how stunning the visuals are on screen. Even simple scenes of characters sitting in rooms or walking down the street look beautiful. There is a combination of factors there, but the main elements are camera technique and color palette. The camera often complements the characters by framing them in interesting and dynamic ways. In the questioning room, for example, Lorraine (Charlize Theron) is often shot from a high angle to emphasize her powerlessness. As the situation changes, the camera begins to shift to a low angle close-up to change the dynamic of power. Another example of this is occurs during Lorraine’s walk to the agency building in the beginning of the film. The camera frames her from an extremely low angle to accentuate a larger-than-life element of her character.
Throughout the film, the visual motif of duality is constantly on display. On a larger scale, the filmmakers capture west and east Berlin as opposites in terms of color. On the west side of the wall, bright, vibrant neon is constantly used in clubs, bedrooms, and in the city itself. Those colors are an extreme contrast to the dingy, grey appearance of the eastern side. Visually, West Berlin is alive and vibrant while East Berlin is cold and grey on the brink of death.
Another visual element of the duality motif deals with Lorraine. Many of Lorrain’s shots feature her in frame with her reflection. Lorrain’s reflection on a table surface, mirror, or window accentuates the duality of her character. That duality not only relates to her personality but also her allegiances. We find out specifically what some of those dual qualities entail at the end of the film.
A great soundtrack is the final element that ties everything together. The film leans on great classic pop songs from the era of the late 80s. The film plays like a long-form music video which was completely intentional by David Leitch. Characters walk and fight in sync with the music cues being played. The 80s themed music also compliments the bright neon visuals. When every element comes together, Atomic Blonde works extremely well as a modern action-suspense film, that pays homage to the pop-culture of that era.
Atomic Blonde is available on disc and digital now!
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