Atomic Blonde (2017)

Coming as no surprise to anyone who saw Fury Road a couple of years ago, Charlize Theron cements herself as a bona fide action hero in Atomic Blonde. Kicking ass, drinking hard and romancing a beautiful lady, Charlize ticks all the 80’s action boxes, becoming 2017’s equivalent of 1987 Bruce Willis. Just a lot better looking. 

Directed by John Wick’s David Leitch, Atomic Blonde is a taut, neon,  80’s-set noir action spy thriller. Despite the mix of genres, Leitch retains tight control over the story and we’re dragged along on a wild, twisty ride. 

I suppose I’d better talk about the plot before I go on about the soundtrack and the visuals. 

Willkommen in Berlin mein freunde! It’s November 1989 and the Berlin wall is weeks away from falling. British spy Lorraine Broughton is sent to Germany to retrieve the body of a dead agent and lands in a Web of intrigue and deceit. Who is the double agent Satchel? Where is the missing list of all of the secret agent’s real names? Along the way she encounters rogue agent David Percival, played by James “I’m having a great 2017” McAvoy, not wholly trustworthy but her key to survival. 

Look, I can’t elaborate on the story any further. I’d break my cover. Oh and I would ruin the film. Based on The Coldest City, a graphic novel written by Antony Johnston and illustrated by Sam Hart, Atomic Blonde retains near enough the whole story, just adding a few new details and swapping a character’s gender. The book is fantastic and well worth a read, Johnston and Hart should be proud of this adaptation. 

The supporting characters are fleshed out by some incredible actors, John Goodman, Toby Jones, Til Schweiger and Eddie Marsan all showing up and bringing their pedigree to the film. Fresh off being The Mummy Sofia Boutella plays Delphine Lasalle, a French agent agent gender swapped from the books, still being bedded by Broughton, adding a new level to the story. Despite being very much the co-star McAvoy comes close to stealing the show, getting all the best lines and hamming it up gloriously. He’s always been a great actor but since Split, I feel like he’s gone to that next level. Also look out for the future Pennywise, Bill Skaarsgard! He gets a few good scenes, but all I could see was that scary clown face every time I saw him.  

David Leitch has crafted a gorgeous film, contrasting scenes bathed in neon lights with the icy blues of the debriefing room. It’s comparisons to his own John Wick are justified and I’m looking forward to his Deadpool sequel more than ever. The fight scenes and action choreography are simply stunning. There’s one 10 minute scene towards the end shot as if it’s one take. Mind blowing. Makes that legendary hallway fight from Netflix’s Daredevil show look like a schoolyard slap-fest. 

So let’s talk about the music. The soundtrack is very, very cool.  A mix of 80’s classics and, well, covers of 80’s classics, the right songs dropped at the right time. New Order, Bowie, A Flock of Seagulls, Depeche Mode. Some absolute classics and not always the obvious choices. Tyler Bates‘ score is also fantastic, acting as a heartbeat to some of the film, the pulsing electronica fitting so well to the visuals. 

A well paced, action packed spy romp, not too over the top and never too po-faced, Atomic Blonde is in cinemas now, it’s very much worth your time. 

9/10

Find my podcast interview with Antony Johnston here or search iTunes podcasts for Supernerds UK. He talks about Atomic Blonde and all of his other works!
For fans of:

John Wick 

Salt 

Skyfall 

Kingsman: The Secret Service 

Sharknado 5 : Global Swarming (2017)

Every summer, director Anthony C Ferrante treats us to the new installment in SyFy’s now legendary Sharknado franchise. If you’re unfamiliar with these films you’ve been seriously deprived of some wonderful entertainment.

 The story of Fin Shephard (Ian Zeiring) and his estranged wife April (Tara Reid) accompanied by a multitude of amazing cameos as they all bid to save the world from random tornados, somehow filled with ravenous sharks. Sharknado is pure, glorious trash with awful special effects. Cheap and cheesey and never po-faced, the Sharknado series is just about having fun and seeing which C-Lister is gonna be eaten next. 

Which brings us to Sharknado 5: Global Swarming.  Opening simultaneously with both an Indiana Jones inspired tomb-raid under StoneHenge and a Sharknado attack on London,  you get the feeling that this is a lot more over the top than you were expecting. Which, for a series that put sharks in space and turned Tara Reid into a robot superhero is saying a lot. 

This fifth movie uses the Sharknado’s new found power of teleportation (yep, I’m serious) to enable closely shot, inexpensive action scenes all around the world. Visiting London, Rome, Sydney and Tokyo, we see each country and their respective terrible local celebrities. Representing the UK we get Sam Fox, Katie Price, Jedward,  Louis Spence and for some reason, Brett Michaels. Yikes. Australia fares slightly better with Olivia Newton-John.

The plot is completely bloody ridiculous, Fin and April’s son has been taken into a Sharknado and they have to chase it around the world to get him back. Fan favourite character Nova ( the stunning Cassie Scerbo) returns as part of a secret sisterhood of the Sharknado, who at one point transform the Sydney Opera House into a flying battle station. Look out for the cameo of Fabio as the Pope, an especially odd scene that I didn’t think would be topped. Well. Until the final scene melted my brain. 

I love these movies. Each year we get the gift of a trash masterpiece surely to go down in history as a camp classic. 

Look, I’m not going to pretend it’s a high budget masterpiece. I’m not even going to pretend it’s art. It is however, genuinely hilarious and totally over the top entertainment. All five of these movies just want to make you smile and laugh and judging by the latest cliffhanger ending, Sharknado 6 will be even more insane and fun.  I can’t wait. 

10/10 (it couldn’t be any lower) 

For Fans Of: 

Jaws 4

Twister 

Shark Night 3D

Scary Movie 4

Baby Driver (2017)

In a summer full of franchise movies and mediocre sequels, Baby Driver is nothing short of genius, a hyper kinetic, music-infused, symphony of destruction. Edgar Wright has assembled an all star cast and strewn them across a beautifully stylised heist thriller. 

 
Ansel Elgort’s Baby is our almost silent protagonist. Orphaned in car crash as a child, Baby listens to music constantly to drown out his tinnitus. After stealing a car he shouldn’t, Baby is forced into getaway driving for bank jobs, by Doc, a mysterious criminal (Kevin Spacey). 

Baby spends his time between jobs creating songs mixed with secretly recorded audio clips  from his criminal work and dancing, oblivious throug the world around him.  Oh and falling in love with a beautiful waitress named Debora. Or is it Jonathan? Either way she’s played by Lily James channelling Madchen Amick, uncanny how much she looks like Amick’s Twin Peaks’ waitress Shelly Johnston . James is charming and her relationship with Baby is pure Hollywood and I loved it. 



Like a mix of both Ryan Gosling in Drive and Kevin Bacon in Footloose , Baby owns the screen and Elgort really steals the show. When you’re acting alongside Kevin Spacey, John Hamm and Jamie Foxx, that’s pretty good going. 

The mix tapes are a handy metaphor for the movie. You’ve seen it all before, but never chopped up and mixed like this. Every bullet hits the beat of a song, every door slams to a drum, Wright using his trademark editing to stunning effect. Remember in Wright’s own Spaced how drugged up bicycle courier Tires would dance to music made from everyday sounds? It’s like that, but to the Nth degree. It’s truly breathtaking. The soundtrack is chosen masterfully, Wright combining the right song for the right scene perfectly every time. 

The ensemble cast adds a level of pedigree and weight that makes Baby Driver just feel solid. It’s Baby’s story but everyone else has enough quirkiness or depth to be memorable. Its a world I’d liked to have spent more time in, so hopefully we will get some prequel comics or blu ray extras. Wright did this with Shaun of the Dead so fingers crossed. 

Every character has a cool code name, Hamm is Buddy, Foxx is Bats, Spacey is Doc, Eliza Gonzalez is Darlin’. Randomly, Flea, bassist with Red Hot Chili Peppers pops up as Eddie No-Nose, formerly Eddie The Nose. There are a few great gags during Doc’s heist meetings that I wouldn’t want to spoil, but those scenes are all hilarious and must have been a joy to shoot. Tons of room for improv. 

A film about driving has to have some excellent  car stunts right? Of course.  The stunt team did an amazing job, Wright saying in a pre-film intro that they used as much practical driving as possible and no CGI. It shows. It feels gritty and rough and real. 

The soundtrack is as much of a character as anyone.  Baby’s multitude of ipods, each one for a different mood, filled with killer tracks. From the opening scene set to the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion track Bellbottoms, you get the sense of how Baby’s hearing and love of music will shape the flow of the film. I noticed a lot of heads bopping in the audience during the movie and one guy even tapping his leg as he strutted down the aisle to go to the bathroom during the movie. 

It’s almost like a musical in some ways, the songs driving the pace of the film. Wright has always had an ear for perfectly fitting songs and Baby Driver is the product of that.

Whilst not being the most original story you’ll ever see, Baby Driver is a beautifully made film that will surely stand the test of time, or at least the next few years. For me, it was like if Tarantino had grown up in the ipod generation. Snappy, quotable, violent and funny. 

It’s been a while since we’ve had a film that was just this cool. 

9.5/10


For Fans Of: 

Hot Fuzz 

Footloose 

True Romance 

Horrible Bosses