“ATOMIC BLONDE” is now available on Home Entertainment platforms and with the Blu-ray release comes a wealth of bonus-material. The film itself was received with mixed reviews. But for fans of actions films, specifically those that hover in the spy genre, there was plenty of good, if not great aspects to it.
The story may have faltered in the eyes of some, including myself to be honest. But the redeeming qualities this film had certainly outweighed the negatives. So, let’s talk about the film as well as all the special-features in the Blu-ray to see if the overall package delivers enough to warrant itself as part of your home video library.
“Atomic Blonde” Movie Review
Special Features (Blu-ray/DVD/Digital – Edition)
There are six featurettes available, as well as optional film commentary from Director David Leitch and Editor Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir. Perfect for those who like that added element of taking in a movie with a deeper perspective to the thought process behind what they are watching.
There are six deleted scenes and for the most part you can see why they were left on the editing room floor. However, I think a couple of them would have made nice additions had they been left in the film. The first scene “Russian Driver” was a short sequence with a couple of added lines of dialogue between the Russian gangsters. It was filler and for the most part, and only added on already known information about the skill of Theron’s Agent Broughton. The next scene “Hidden Stash” was very short and clipped from the sequence when Broughton searches an apartment. This quick segment was not needed, and didn’t develop anything so it was easy to see why it was trimmed out as the final scene felt smooth without it.
They next two scenes I really enjoyed and felt they would have been better served in the final-cut. One of my small issues with this film was the relationship between Broughton and Lasalle. It felt mildly convenient and rushed which gave it a feeling of being foreced. However, these two scenes that were decent in length, feature more conversing between the two characters that could have given more substance to this angle of the story-line.
The first clip “Nice to Meet You” builds on the scene where the two meet each other in the nightclub. It added some depth to their chemistry and gave the spark between them much more of a natural feel. The next scene “Not Afraid of Love” allows more dialogue between the characters after their night together and continues to build on the energy and connection between them. It also gives a deeper look at the emotional torment Broughton is dealing with in her line of work, which I enjoyed and felt could have been explored more.
The final two deleted scenes in the collection were clear in why they didn’t make the cut. “Broughton’s Promotion” was only a few seconds long and did nothing to add to the scene it was cut from. “Watch for Sale” was not a long sequence but didn’t really add much to the depth to this Watchmaker character, and in the film there is a mirror image of this scene already.
Welcome to Berlin
This was an entertaining featurette focusing on the location of Berlin in 1989 as the setting for the film. The segment features commentary from the cast and crew talking about how this city, specifically during this time-period, was the perfect setting for a spy story. There is some solid footage in the almost five-minute long vignette that captures the locations around Berlin as well as how Budapest was used for many shots due to its appearance being similar.
The commentary gives some history of the region during the era of the Cold War and immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It explains how the area was in a sense, a hub of espionage which fit the theme of the story-line perfectly. It also goes into a little more depth on the rebellious punk culture of the era and how it tailored to some of the characters. The commentary also talks a little more about the perfect contrast between the cold climates of the region, and the warm color palette the film-makers chose and how they wanted to have an artistic, more stylish tone to the project.
Blondes Have More Gun
This is one my favorites in the special-features as it covers, in much detail, the process of turning Charlize Theron into this character. This segment lasts nearly seven-minutes and adds commentary from Leitch, the trainers, and Theron as they talk about the early stages of the film. How they wanted an action movie with a star that could pull off the physical action. The video shows Theron attending a training camp called 8711 and Leitch talks about how the first day they sent Theron in for a test run to see what her capabilities were.
Leitch explains how she blew everyone away with her capabilities, and that the crew knew immediately they would be able to open doors on the scope of action the film could implement. We get to see Theron practicing fighting techniques as Leitch and the crew explain how they were astonished by her ability to absorb the moves. What I loved most about this video was the footage showcasing the work and repetition Theron went through to make her role more realistic. It naturally creates so much more appreciation for what she was able to accomplish in this movie.
This short segment was less than five-minutes but was still very informative. Featuring commentary from David Leitch and some of the cast, this feature talks in-depth about creating the spy element of this film. How Leitch wanted to make a compelling espionage movie with interesting and appealing characters and a lot of action. But he explains how he wanted the progression of the story to generate the action rather than simply slapping it in between scenes. Or has he said in the video making it feel like the ‘action is telling the story.’ It provides some film-footage as well as interview style sit-downs that do give some perspective to how the characters, story-line, and action-sequences were woven together.
Anatomy of an Action Scene
Easily the one reason for owning the Blu-ray is this feature. The best aspect of the film was the action and this featurette goes into deep detail on the creation of the action-sequences. In particular the long, extremely intricate hallway scene. This segment is rich with behind-the-scenes footage that showcases the gym training with the fight choreographers and Theron. It shows the filming of the scene with the final-cut overlaid next to it, as well as showing the construction and design of all the practical effects to make everything feel and look realistic.
This feature of the disc was also the longest, and solidifies itself as the shining chunk of bonus-material. This was such a well-edited featurette and is a must-see for fans of action films. Even if you are not a fan of the genre you will still be able to find immense appreciation for what goes into making a great action scene. In particular the effort of Theron to pull this roll off. From the design of the set, the practicing of the moves to get it right from the performers, as well as all the different filming techniques, you name it and this segment delivers it.
Story in Motion
I enjoyed this feature as well. It consisted of two segments that play out like motion comics, with the option of commentary from Director David Leitch. The first follows Lorraine Broughton and storyboards her opening scene in the bathtub. The second, titled “The Chase” showcases the designing of the feature car-chase in the film. The black and white texturing was perfect for capturing the detail of the hand-drawn storyboards. They were short segments, less than two-minutes each, but they were interesting and it was cool to see how the vision of a scene in a film, is born from sketched storyboards.