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Darryl A. Armstrong

Atomic Blonde

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Apologies if there's already a thread for this, I couldn't locate it if it exists. I wrote a review of it for my debut at Rise Up Daily:


There has been some discussion of this film being a high point for feminism or women’s voices in film; in this case an action film. But despite Charlize Theron’s prominent role as headliner and producer, the film was still directed by, written by, and based off a comic by men. That is not to say, I think that a film with the participation of men in such roles cannot be a positive vehicle for women’s perspective and voices. I am thinking of Theron’s recent turn in Mad Max: Fury Road, where she was not even the title character but spoke firmly and forcefully for herself and the other women in her care, pushing an indifferent Max to join her struggle, or Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire, which featured a similar hard-as-nails protagonist in Gina Carano’s Mallory Kane as Theron’s “atomic blonde” Lorraine.

While Atomic Blonde isn’t entirely a standard action film with a female instead of a male in the lead, it also isn’t much more than that. It even includes Theron’s Lorraine “getting the girl,” Sofia Boutella (The Mummy), which some might appreciate as a progressive statement on female sexuality, but I would argue is not much more than a shallow and rather hollow symbol, lacking any real weight. Theron’s Lorraine, as the character admits, chose a life of spy games and survives by telling and trading in lies. Indeed, not even the “truth” in the list that serves as the film’s MacGuffin is entirely transparent. This serves to undermine any readings we might give to Lorraine’s authenticity, even if we are told she truly cares for Sofia Boutella’s French agent Delphine.


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