Badass Women Save Themselves: Atomic Blonde

In this episode of Badass Women Save Themselves, Blythe and Jove discuss Atomic Blonde, specifically the things that surprised them, the things that they liked, and the things the could have done without.

Charlize Theron is a badass. She saves herself and a lot of other people. And she does it all to awesome 80s music. We have lots of opinions on Atomic Blonde, and not all of them are good, but we definitely come down on the side that it’s worth watching.

About Jove And Blythe

Both are published authors and all round badass women in their own right.  Jove is also on the Women And Words podcast where she and Andi do a roundup of the week’s happenings on their website.

You can find more info here


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hello everyone this is badass women save themselves I’m Blythe ribbon I’m here with Joe fell and today we were talking about the film atomic blonde which actually we got to see together it was the first time we’ve gone to see him movie together yeah it’s been a while though it was what when did we do this like back in August it was back in August so we might be a little rusty on names but we had we had left the theater feeling like we had things to say about it so we’re gonna talk about it now yes well and we went with our wives which was cool we had like a little double date that was fun yes yeah so can I just I want to make a general observation before we jump into the discussion about atomic blonde yes today we don’t have our video one we just have our audio one and I realized how sad that makes me because your tone and the way that you present yourself changes drastically when I hit record right like you become very serious and even more earnest than normal and it makes me like laugh and I like the part where I get to laugh and you get to see me laugh every time because you don’t frustrate you and today I laughed and you didn’t get to see it no but I get hear it right now yeah but you didn’t hear it when you were doing it anyway anyway um yeah so atomic blonde for those who have not seen it we’re gonna our conversation today is gonna be split up into like three parts we’re gonna talk about something about the movie that surprised us and you know as a spy film so there should be surprises something that we like and then something that we didn’t like but we’re not gonna go in that order we’re gonna do surprise didn’t like like is that is that right yeah do you want to do a summary or do you want me to do a summary you do a summary me okay so a topic blonde is set I think and I want to say into a tease cuz yeah cuz it was all like this badass eighties music whoo I can add that to my list of likes way to totally steal my like is that one yours oh yeah the fact that it’s eighties that’s my like okay well we’ll just I won’t steal it you can talk about it when we get there anyway so Charlie’s thrown Charlize Theron I don’t know how to say her name but I know that she’s really hot and does a decent British accent anyway she’s a spy and she goes into Germany to figure out some leak thing and it’s right when the Berlin Wall is coming down and it’s just all about that her running amok in Germany trying to like foil bad things great yes do you that’s a great plot summary it is right I mean that’s because you can’t tell the ending because you know I mean I we’re gonna we’re gonna have because you know spoilers this just what we do but I don’t know did I forget anything important I think that’s it yeah that’s fine yeah okay all right so tell me tell me something that surprised you start with that okay I was surprised by the difference between the trailer that I had seen and the film itself the trailer was really sexy and it made the film not exactly look like Charlie’s Angels like you know it was gonna be a comedy but it looked like like a fun action film right where you know someone gets hit in the face and you want to cheer and that was not what the reality of this film was at all when he said we got hit in the face you winced whether it was a good guy or a bad guy or a good girl or bad girl you it was gritty and raw and painful there were fight scenes that had no music behind them at all that went on for quite some time where everyone got super hurt and was exhausted and you know actually panting it was just really real and I was expecting this sort of shine on top of the violence the way you get in most Hollywood action films yeah no I totally agree like the trailers made it look like it was going to be shiny and you know sparkly and you know one of those that was more like you’ve sought you said Wonder Woman right like wear it during the action scenes it like did different camera angles and you know slowed stuff down and spent stuff up but whatever like that it looked like it was gonna be one of those like special effects amazing things and instead it was the pace was very different and it was very dark yeah and actually comparing it to Wonder Woman it’s a really great instinct there because Wonder Woman has exactly that was exactly the tone in the feel that I was expecting of atomic vlog that was totally absent from it mm-hmm but that’s okay I like that yeah I liked the gritty part so what else does that is that is that do you have anything more that’s good so what surprised you I you know the trailer as like it was one of those shock and awe things that the trailer included like here’s the the main character her name is Lorraine Broughton you know she’s being a spy and you see her like making out with this chick up against a wall and you know it looked like it was gonna be like this like mmm just sort of like a more like a male gaze kind of thing than anything else like the way that it was rounded in the trailer but then in the movie itself it was actually a relationship that had you know some emotion and some heart behind it they were developed right and it seems like one of the one of the few actual real things that the main character experienced during the course of the movie and that’s surprise yeah I liked it yes that’s true and it surprised me also and for the same reasons right the trailer was very male gaze ease but I was also surprised at how unreal everything in this world was so that even when Lorraine’s relationship with this girl like sort of starts to develop and kind of feels like there’s actual feelings happening there even when that happens it’s still like it doesn’t have a future it doesn’t you know if this is not a romance this is not gonna make you feel all the good gooey lesbian feels you might feel that’s not what this is no no no but you get the you get the impression that you know it’s not a one of and you know like yes the relationship is based on the fact that they’re both spies and it will end when her assignment ends but if they ever end up back in the same city again they’ll look up again like you know they’re both enjoying it yeah yeah but just you know that surprised me cool so tell me what you didn’t like do you have more than one didn’t like I I do I have two didn’t like um I well let’s just talk about this plot summary you gave which gave absolutely nothing away I mean like and there’s a reason for that what the fuck was the plot of this film these like 1980s Cold War spy films are usually so convoluted and you can’t really figure out even like it’s it’s tricky to track which name goes with which character which face that you’ve seen on the screen before in part because there’s all these secret identities and I it was just I love the theater going like what the hell just happened and like in any given scene you knew who you were meant to be rooting for more or less but it was not intricate in the way that I like my intricate it was not you know usual suspects intricate where it’s a mystery and at the end you solve it and you you’re like oh they’re all these clues and it was not that it was just confusing yeah yes it was very confusing and I you know I’m a you know this about me I’m not good with like the details and this is very much like a detail type of show I mean it’s it’s very like you have to be paying attention to the minutiae and I’m much more like a broad strokes kind of girl like I want to know like how I left you know I felt when I left and so I sort of go into movies like this not expecting to be able to keep track of who everybody is or what their names are or what they’re all doing just like you know I watch based on you know their overall feeling that it leaves me with right so I don’t think I was as bothered by that as you were because yeah oh it was totally what the fuck but but I always expect who fees like this to leave me a little what the fuck yeah yeah okay so you were just like I think I think then the like my spec tutorial experience in this film is the way yours must be in most films really just like whatever’s happening with the plot is whatever and I’m not really gonna be concerned about that but this is a pretty picture and I like that those two are kissing and I went beyond I like that they are those two are kissing because I did like that they were kissing that was pretty cool but I really liked the fact that you know here’s this this woman who was just really well trained and it wasn’t like it wasn’t turned into the stylized violence thing it was just gritty and dark and the only reason she was winning is because she just wouldn’t give up so it wasn’t that she was so much better than the dudes around her it was that you know she’s just refuses to lose this which keeps getting back up and I’d like that oh yeah but you know I have the same like what’s what’s going on if I watch like you know any of the Jason Bourne movies or like The Hunt for Red October or like anything along those lines I just sort of huh I’m not entirely certain what’s going on but it’s it’s all lovely what’s I shouldn’t admit these things I don’t think it’s pretty funny yeah well there you go yeah that’s what yeah so that was one of your dislikes yeah what are yours alright my other one is that there’s just all this ambiguity sorry here’s your spoiler like you can skip ahead two minutes if you don’t hear this but there’s all this ambiguity about whether the rain is actually a good bad guy at the end and I get that like sometimes that ambiguities just be good it supposed to make you feel like oh do you really know a person and but I I didn’t feel like it sold that ambiguity well enough and there were so many other weird things going on that I couldn’t really get my my head around that like that one was just one too much yes you know the thing that at the very end so we’re gonna have spoilers we’ve decided this so I’m just gonna go ahead and say this without trying to talk around the plot so the the ending relied too heavily on assuming that an American audience would root for and I identify with knowing that she was an American operative instead of a British operative right like that she was actually like you know like not just a double agent but cuz you know they set us up to think that she was a double agent and then it’s like nope she’s not a double agent she’s like a double double agent yeah like but yeah they didn’t do any of the work to make that emotional connection for us do you know what I mean like the American that they had in the show John Goodman his character was just completely a Spanish like they left the the breadcrumbs to make us go oh yeah of course she’s an American spy like once they said it out loud of course yes that makes perfect sense but they didn’t do the emotional work for us and so I they I think they wanted us to feel like you know here’s this this woman who’s working for us and isn’t this great and aren’t we glad that we have someone like her on our side and I left you know I walked out feeling betrayed because they had done all this work to make me root for her in this one capacity and you know and we’re allies with Great Britain so you know why wouldn’t I want to root for her as a whatever and so this just it was really emotionally it left me feeling very icky yeah and then I I didn’t feel icky about it I felt whatever about it and I didn’t want I wanted to leave this movie feeling like actual feelings not just indifference yeah no I felt pretty good about the movie overall but I think that was more to do it the fact that I got to see it with friends cuz yeah so I was able to hang friends so that’s what that’s what I didn’t like about the movie what didn’t you like about it oh you know it’s sort of dovetails very nicely with what you just said I didn’t like that there were so they worked so hard to make her so hard to figure out like there were too many twists there could have been half as many and it still would have been a lovely you know action-packed fun-filled time yeah that was yeah it didn’t know what kind of movie I wanted to be if it wanted to be a Cold War spy film then do that but a you can’t put out a trailer like that then because you’re totally misrepresenting what the film is and be there was just there were too many other things going on in this film that prevented it from being like like Gotti Kurt Taylor toilers Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy film this was not that I don’t I don’t know what that is oh that was a well that’s the film I’m referencing right now oh okay I don’t know okay anyway are you making analogy to a film you don’t know sorry I don’t I don’t but maybe part of the reason I don’t know it is because you couldn’t say it right can you can you try again I got it right the second time Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy that’s the name of the movie yeah yeah I don’t know what that is okay so tell me it’s only too much you liked okay so um I loved that it was an eighties film I just it was just so much fun there was so much fun stuff happening with the music the costumes were fantastic you know you add a couple a couple little sections of like existing footage of you know tear down this wall type footage that was really great the the production is I was lovely in this great job of really setting itself in that moment and making you feel like you were in that moment too so I know that was lovely yeah and so I didn’t get from the from the trailer that it was an 80s film like a cold war I somehow missed that in the trailer I was probably too busy rocking out to clean and just watching Shirley’s there and you know walk yes she’s really good at walking yeah but okay so here’s the thing and here’s the reason that you didn’t get that you didn’t get the the fact that it was an 80s show it’s because her hair was wrong mmm she didn’t have 80s hair and I mean she shouldn’t have like Farrah Fawcett hair but there was lots of different kinds of hair on the eighties Farrah Fawcett was from the 70s night I was like a teenager in the 80s and I’m telling you her hair was wrong okay just trust me on this one it was Raya okay what’s wrong I trust you okay anyway yeah yeah so but the 80s music was awesome and what was your favorite do you remember which song made you the happiest Killer Queen yeah that was cool that was what you it wasn’t there like rock set like she’s got the look I remember that from there I’m gonna look it up that was the one that I think I remember I like the best but you know I’m gonna look it up and then I’m gonna be wrong and it’s not gonna be part of it at all but I’m gonna be so sad because I will sounded like an ass sometimes all the eighty songs get like muddied in my head but I just enjoy them and I just want to dance and yeah I was happy that there were there was a little bit of dancing like clubbing in the film which is good because with music like that it would have been all wrong not to encourage that yeah well personal Jesus was on there that was good yes yeah who doesn’t love goddamn you know Depeche Mode if you don’t then there’s a problem that’s true hod I I can’t find the soundtrack I got a I’m gonna move on because I I can find it but it’ll take too long do you want to continue to vamp while I find it or should we just move take another step and go forward you decide yeah I mean I just I think you know despite so I had two things I didn’t like and one thing I did like and so that balance I guessed in total you know feels weird but like we are talking about this field for a reason like it’s worth seeing just know what you’re getting into but you know it’s a fantastic performance by Shirley’s their own and I guess I would say like a second thing that I really liked I had listened to a fair amount of interviews with her and read some articles and like she knows all her own stunts and even succeeded in getting some actual punches in against the stunt doubles of the character she was meant to be fighting and you know some funny stuff like that but she she does all her own work and that’s very cool and she just owns this character and that’s fun to see James McAvoy’s performance is really good I really like John Goodman in this film too it’s it’s totally worth seeing also for the soundtrack in the eighties music just the eighties ness of it yeah okay I’ve got the thing and I’m looking and I don’t see the song that I said so fuck it I don’t I didn’t remember the music properly I don’t know why I asked that question this just so varied me yeah people they had to to Queen songs they did under pressure to which was cool yeah okay well and they did they had to do 99 left balloons because it was set in Germany yeah and that’s you know hungry like the war because you know or get Duran Duran in there that’s always awesome oh and they got some cure Oh Siouxsie and the Banshees see I this is why I loved this movie it felt really good to listen to it The Clash alright anyway moving on I’m going to talk about something that I liked yeah what do you like I liked that I’ve got actually got more than one like so well no anyway whatever my first one is that it was it looks really really really painful she didn’t look like it was easy for like you know you get like the whole Buffy the Vampire Slayer type type hero where they just kick ass and they look completely and affected by the fight right yes yeah no she she suffered for for the winning like she this is something you like something that surprised me and you’re like oh I like it oh I know I liked it because it was real like the fact that we glorify violence so much and in media you know that needs to be tempered in some way and so when you show that it’s even when you win you’re still fucking hurt you know you still have just you know you have bullet wounds and you have broken ribs and you have black eyes and and you know busted lips and those things stick around like you know you’re a couple days later doing your debrief with your handler or whatever and you still got the black eye yeah I liked that I like that she didn’t look perfectly polished I mean she did she cleaned up really nice and she had some really smooth appearance stuff but but the the violence didn’t leave her unaffected and I liked that the other thing that I had on my a thing we already already kind of talked about with the surprise thing I really liked that there was there seemed to be an actual connection with the other woman but yes you know that’s we already discussed that and here’s the other thing that I’m surprised you didn’t say actually it had this really cool like it was set up with this really cool like film noir storytelling type of storytelling because it starts out with her like in an office or going into the office rather and sitting down in a room full of men and you know smoking a cigarette and telling the story and being debriefed right and it’s very it was very very film noir and I liked that I liked that edge I don’t know that I would call it come to our but I but I see what you’re saying about you know the the gray debrief room with the smoking cigarette and and it having it being a woman in that role that you know when would usually be reserved for the for the detective I can’t really say yeah that’s cool I I what would you call it I don’t know it’s something else entirely I mean you know with film noir you have to have a narrator I guess she kind of turns into a little bit of a narrator I don’t know maybe the more I’m thinking about this you’re convincing me yay good job I I’m gonna I’m gonna take that as a victory because you know you know way more about the business of film you know of moviemaking than I do way more yeah you do don’t act like you don’t I do I do but you know that doesn’t mean anyway that doesn’t make me an expert and I appreciate your observation here I’m gonna have to think about that all right well I like it when I can you know change your mind about shit anyway that’s it that was where my likes my dicks I had surprisingly less to say about this about this movie that I anticipated having to say same yeah that’s what that’s what I think I didn’t I didn’t I didn’t walk away with as much energy as I wanted to or as I thought I was going to I liked the film I think I liked it better than you did and yeah I think that’s I think that’s true yeah it’s not on the top of my list yeah and I definitely liked it more than Tara and she likes you know spy films like this but she was just all like you like what the fuck but that’s because she is like smart and pays attention to details I don’t want to have to pay attention to details and so I don’t think she definitely didn’t like him she knew going in it was not gonna be your pendant movie and she just went for me yeah but she had a few things that she actually liked though or seemed to whatever anyway and she liked the music yes well she liked that you know the fight scene seemed you know real and yes violence and not you know glamorous and shiny but yeah I don’t know but she I think it’s interesting that she’s the type of viewer that doesn’t want to pay attention to the details because of all of us I think she’s probably the most qualified to pay attention to the detail she doesn’t – yeah exactly yeah anyway all right so do you have anything else to say or should I wrap this up no we’re good yeah so parting thoughts I think we’ve got to you know how like they used to do what Rogers & Ebert did the thumbs up or the thumbs down I think we have like two mediocre thumbs that are like level mine’s slightly higher than yours that’s what I think anyway this has been another episode of badass women say themselves I am Joe of Bell here with my friend Blythe ripping and like thanks for listening we’ll catch you next time