THERON ROCKS IN "ATOMIC
Charlize Theron -- Action Star -- has
a nice ring to it.
She's shown to be capable of the
challenges. When "Mad Max: Fury Road" is mentioned, Theron's
tough Furiosa comes to mind before Tom Hardy's Max. Earlier this
year, her Cipher proved to be a worthy adversary for Dom Toretto
and his group in the latest "Fast and Furious" adventure.
Granted, she did get crushed to death in "Prometheus," but that
is just a blip on Theron's most recent kick-ass
filmography. Now, as British MI6 undercover agent Lorraine
Broughton in "Atomic Blonde," Theron has made a case that this
secret agent / espionage gig is not just for guys like James
Bond, et al.
"Atomic Blonde" is a blast from start to
finish with plenty of action and intrigue along with a
sensational soundtrack that resurrects some great sounds of the
1980s. The music is appropriate, as "Atomic Blonde," based upon
the Oni Press graphic novel "The Coldest City" by Antony
Johnston and illustrated by Sam Hart, takes place in 1989 during
the tumultuous days in Germany when the Berlin Wall finally is
When an MI6 agent is murdered in Berlin,
Broughton is sent to Germany to investigate as well as recover a
vital list that contains names of double agents, a valuable
commodity that the West obviously does not want to fall into
When Broughton is first seen, it appears
she had a tough day on the job. Sporting a black right eye and
with bruises all over her body, she looks like she should be on
the disabled list and due for a long rehab. Instead she dresses
and shows up at the office to attend a debriefing conducted by
her superior, Eric Gray (Toby Jones) while Chief C (James
Faulkner) and a CIA honcho, Emmitt Kurzfeld (John Goodman),
listen in. This is in the immediate aftermath of her mission to
Berlin, and it appears it did not go well.
"Atomic Blonde" unfolds via flashbacks
as Broughton recalls to Gray and the others what happened in
Like every spy or espionage caper, there
are twists and turns all over the place, laced with distrust and
betrayal. Broughton had been advised beforehand to not trust
anyone yet is told she has to hook up with an agent named David
Percival (James McAvoy), someone she has never worked with
before. McAvoy seems to have carried over one or two of his many
personalities from "Split" as he has his hands in a lot of
Meanwhile, Broughton is being followed
by Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella), a surveillance that isn't
too discreet, as Lorraine is quite aware she is being shadowed.
Eventually they hook up and engage in some sizzling lovemaking
scenes, but Broughton stays on mission and remains a bit wary of
Almost from the moment she sets foot on
the ground in Berlin, Broughton is chased, shot at and having to
engage in some brutal hand-to-hand combat with members of the
A shout-out is worthy here to the entire
stunt staff. John Valera, fight coordinator; Greg Rementer,
fight choreography team leader; Lilla Nemeth, stunt department
coordinator; Florian Hotz, stunt coordinator in Germany; Sam
Hargrave, stunt coordinator; and Monique Ganderton, assistant
stunt coordinator and stunt double for Theron, were responsible
for leading an able crew in putting on film some of the best
fight scenes witnessed in a while. While Ganderton no doubt did
some of the more punishing stunts in place of Theron, there are
moments when Theron clearly took some hard knocks for the team.
Director David Leitch, who is scheduled
to direct "Deadpool 2," is a veteran stuntman himself and proved
he is capable of tackling the challenges of the next "Deadpool"
The screenplay by Kurt Johnstad ("300:
Rise of an Empire" and "Act of Valor") is well-crafted in
providing just enough information to set up suspense and
questions without revealing too much too fast. The result is a
smart and fast-paced action thriller with Theron a solid
foundation. As beat up as she is, she is poised to emerge from
this chaos still on her feet, leaving a trail of vanquished.
"ATOMIC BLONDE" Official Trailer:
CAESAR CAN'T FIND PEACE IN
"WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES"
Dark, touching, brutal with touches
of humor and loads of simian compassion, “War for the Planet of
the Apes” takes intelligent ape Caesar and his clan to their
inevitable fate with tumult, sadness and triumph.
The second film of the latest “Planet”
reboot series to be directed by Matt Reeves, “War” has plenty of
action amid the quieter moments when Caesar (Andy Serkis) and
his nemesis, The Colonel (Woody Harrelson), deal with the
intricacies of conflict while battling their own inner demons.
When “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
ended, Caesar had been warned by his human friend Malcolm (Jason
Clarke) that soldiers were coming down from the north, summoned
when Koba undermines Caesar and ignites a war with humans. The
apes find refuge in the woods but all too soon a unit of
soldiers attacks the apes but is easily defeated. Caesar spares
the lives of the captured soldiers so they can go back to The
Colonel and convey the ape’s proposal of peace: Just leave
us alone in the forest and all will be fine.
The Colonel responds by appearing
himself in the apes’ habitat and conducting a fatal assault that
now makes this personal for Caesar. While Caesar concedes
the apes must flee the woods for a safer place, he opts to go
out on his own vendetta mission. Naturally, two of his most
loyal, Maurice (Karin Konoval) and Luca (Michael Adamthwaite)
It takes awhile before The Colonel gets
some decent screen time. He is definitely a nod to Marlon
Brando’s Col. Kurtz from “Apocalypse Now.” Except
that when the layers are peeled away, Harrelson’s Colonel may be
a rogue, but not quite the looney Kurtz turned out to be. His
motivations certainly are understandable given the perilous
issues he faces. He accuses Caesar of being too emotional, and
indeed, despite his own personal tragedies, The Colonel can
boast that he is focused not on a mission of revenge but of
Aside from trying to keep his clan and
family from being annihilated, while also dealing with traitors,
Caesar also struggles within himself, realizing he is close to
becoming as crazed with animosity toward humans as Koba had
Along the way, before the inevitable
bloodshed, two new characters are introduced. One is a mute girl
the apes named Nova - an obvious tie-in with the Nova character
in the original “Planet of the Apes” movies - befriended by
Maurice. The other is a comically memorable zoo ape who calls
himself Bad Ape (Steve Zahn). Bad Ape has managed to survive on
his own but soon embraces the possibility of new friends with
Caesar, Maurice and Luca, even though he thinks these apes might
be just a little too eager to fight humans to suit his tastes.
Eventually, though, Bad Ape, for all his bumbling around and
near cowardice, proves to be a valuable ally.
As always, there is an ominous tone
throughout “War,” especially sensed by animal lovers who abhor
violence against creatures that are not motivated by anything
other than surviving. They are innocent of greed and hate and do
not deserve to suffer or die. Ultimately, the war Caesar must
win is the one within himself — to find an inner peace that will
always be hard to maintain in the world in which he and his
fellow simians exist.
"WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE
APES" Official Trailer:
"WISH UPON" A MILDLY SCARY
Well, this has been explored before:
the down side of a person getting what he or she wishes for. The
result may not always be gratifying, or worse, it may extract a
“Wish Upon,” directed by John R.
Leonetti (“Annabelle,” “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation”) and
written by Barbara Marshall, is a nice little film that probably
would better be suited for a horror anthology on television.
It’s not very scary but it does make a person feel leery about
anything that might open an avenue to dreams simply by saying,
Joey King is Claire Shannon, a teen girl
who a decade earlier witnessed the suicide by hanging of her
mother. Now she lives in a dilapidated house with her father,
Jonathan (Ryan Phillippe — where has HE been lately?), who
barely makes a living scrounging around in trash dumpsters.
Claire is a talented artist like her mother had been, but
definitely among the lower echelon in popularity in high school.
She pretty much hangs around her BFFs Meredith (Sydney Park) and
June (Shannon Purser), while on the periphery is Ryan (Ki Hong
Lee), who seems to have a crush on Claire.
One day Jonathan brings home from
his trash hunts a wooden box with Chinese etchings on it. Since
Claire is studying Chinese in school, Jonathan figures the box
might be of interest to his daughter. Claire can only decipher
some of the etchings, but learns the box is capable of granting
seven wishes. Naturally, after a nasty encounter with the
typical popular girl/bully Darcie (Josephine Langford) in the
school lunch room, Claire wishes that Darcie “would just
rot.” When news gets around the school that Darcie has been
afflicted with a skin ailment and might lose a couple of her
toes, Claire initially dismisses it as a coincidence. But, by
the way, Claire’s faithful old dog suddenly dies.
After awhile, Claire begins to
realize that the box indeed seems capable of granting her
wishes. And she gives the box some wishes to grant.
Ominously, once a wish is made, the box
lid opens for a few minutes and somebody subsequently dies. The
deaths take on a “Final Destination” flavor as scenes show the
doomed person just engaging in normal life tasks that on this
particular day will have fatal consequences.
Meanwhile, Claire enlists the help of
Ryan, whose cousin Gina (Alice Lee) might be able to translate
the rest of the etchings on the box. When Gina refers to a
language expert, this person comes back with some troubling
details about the sinister background of the box.
Claire is enjoying some of the fruits of
her yearnings even though she is also mourning the loss of some
people. She also learns that if you wish for someone to fall in
love with you, the byproduct of that might be that person
becoming dangerously obsessive.
The fine print on the box includes a
couple of rules. If you get rid of the box, all your wishes are
rescinded. And if you make that seventh wish, the final price
can be horrifying. Claire thinks she has the solution to beat
the box. She should know better.
King at the core of “Wish Upon” presents
Claire as a likable person, grappling with the usual issues of
teen life while also fending off the emotional residue of seeing
her mother kill herself. Once she gets a taste of the good
life, she finds it intoxicating, which is the real, and scary,
Be sure to stick around after the
credits roll. There is a little addendum that proves how
entrapping a box with this kind of power can be.
"WISH UPON" Official Trailer: