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‘Atomic Blonde’ review: Forget the plot and focus on the visuals

Charlize Theron plays a spy who cuts a nasty swathe through Berlin during the days of the collapse of the Wall.

Bottle openers, screwdrivers, heels and numerous other pointed objects are put to good use in Atomic Blonde, a preposterously plotted spy thriller with a barely coherent plot, bone-crunching action and relentless slickness. The cast is packed with heavyweights and the setting – Berlin in the days of the collapse of the Wall – is significant, but David Leitch’s adaptation of the graphic novel The Coldest Day by Anthony Johnston and Sam Hart isn’t the kind of movie to get bogged down by Cold War politics or debates on democracy.

Instead, Leitch, who co-directed the similarly vacuous but equally stylish John Wick (2014), devotes his energies to creating a visually striking world that pops with striking cinematography (by Jonathan Sela), atmospheric colour coding, surgical editing and spectacular action sequences, all set to a soundtrack of pop and punk rock classics (Depeche Mode, Clash, Nena, even George Michael). There are songs when scenes need them and songs even when they don’t, like an overstuffed Bollywood production, as though to move far away from the movie’s literary source.

Elsewhere, the camera swirls and twirls around its characters, often resting on the starkly framed faces of the numerous spies and rogue agents that populate the movie’s universe. One face dominates – Charlize Theron, whose driving skills in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) marked her out as an action heroine to rival fellow A-lister Angelina Jolie. Theron is well cast as the chain-smoking MI6 agent with the seductive rumble, high-kicking skills and structured clothing. Theron is more athletic than histrionic, which helps since the role does not require her to be anything more than a female James Bond.

Lorraine (Theron) is sent to Berlin on a three-fold mission: to find out who killed a fellow spy, prevent a list of agents in the Soviet Union from getting onto the black market, and smoke out a double agent. Matters get complicated and convoluted when Lorraine meets Berlin station agent David (James McAvoy), whose convenient cover is a DJ in a grungy nightclub, and French agent Delphine (Sofia Boutella).

Lorraine’s instrumentalist sexual encounters with Delphine undermine any suggestion that female empowerment is at work here – the entanglement is of the gratuitous kind, on par with Lorraine dragging on her cigarette and fighting her way past thickets of KGB agents.

The cast has several underutilised big names, including Eddie Marsan as an East German spy who wants to defect and Toby Jones and John Goodman as British and American station chiefs respectively. McAvoy lights up his scenes, but it is Theron’s unchanging visage and her claim to the female Bond crown that steer the show from one head-scratching but ravishing scene to the next. Berlin’s shabby chic contributes its own bit to the atmospherics, of which there is no shortage whatsoever.

Atomic Blonde.
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Not just for experts: How videography is poised for a disruption

Digital solutions are making sure it’s easier than ever to express your creativity in moving images.

Where was the last time you saw art? Chances are on a screen, either on your phone or your computer. Stunning photography and intricate doodles are a frequent occurrence in the social feeds of many. That’s the defining feature of art in the 21st century - it fits in your pocket, pretty much everyone’s pocket. It is no more dictated by just a few elite players - renowned artists, museum curators, art critics, art fair promoters and powerful gallery owners. The digital age is spawning creators who choose to be defined by their creativity more than their skills. The negligible incubation time of digital art has enabled experimentation at staggering levels. Just a few minutes of browsing on the online art community, DeviantArt, is enough to gauge the scope of what digital art can achieve.

Sure enough, in the 21st century, entire creative industries are getting democratised like never before. Take photography, for example. Digital photography enabled everyone to capture a memory, and then convert it into personalised artwork with a plethora of editing options. Apps like Instagram reduced the learning curve even further with its set of filters that could lend character to even unremarkable snaps. Prisma further helped to make photos look like paintings, shaving off several more steps in the editing process. Now, yet another industry is showing similar signs of disruption – videography.

Once burdened by unreliable film, bulky cameras and prohibitive production costs, videography is now accessible to anyone with a smartphone and a decent Internet bandwidth. A lay person casually using social media today has so many video types and platforms to choose from - looping Vine videos, staccato Musical.lys, GIFs, Instagram stories, YouTube channels and many more. Videos are indeed fast emerging as the next front of expression online, and so are the digital solutions to support video creation.

One such example is Vizmato, an app which enables anyone with a smartphone to create professional-looking videos minus the learning curve required to master heavy, desktop software. It makes it easy to shoot 720p or 1080p HD videos with a choice of more than 40 visual effects. This fuss- free app is essentially like three apps built into one - a camcorder with live effects, a feature-rich video editor and a video sharing platform.

With Vizmato, the creative process starts at the shooting stage itself as it enables live application of themes and effects. Choose from hip hop, noir, haunted, vintage and many more.

The variety of filters available on Vizmato
The variety of filters available on Vizmato

Or you can simply choose to unleash your creativity at the editing stage; the possibilities are endless. Vizmato simplifies the core editing process by making it easier to apply cuts and join and reverse clips so your video can flow exactly the way you envisioned. Once the video is edited, you can use a variety of interesting effects to give your video that extra edge.

The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.
The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.

You can even choose music and sound effects to go with your clip; there’s nothing like applause at the right moment, or a laugh track at the crack of the worst joke.

Or just annotated GIFs customised for each moment.

Vizmato is the latest offering from Global Delight, which builds cross-platform audio, video and photography applications. It is the Indian developer that created award-winning iPhone apps such as Camera Plus, Camera Plus Pro and the Boom series. Vizmato is an upgrade of its hugely popular app Game Your Video, one of the winners of the Macworld Best of Show 2012. The overhauled Vizmato, in essence, brings the Instagram functionality to videos. With instant themes, filters and effects at your disposal, you can feel like the director of a sci-fi film, horror movie or a romance drama, all within a single video clip. It even provides an in-built video-sharing platform, Popular, to which you can upload your creations and gain visibility and feedback.


So, whether you’re into making the most interesting Vines or shooting your take on Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’, experience for yourself how Vizmato has made video creation addictively simple. Android users can download the app here and iOS users will have their version in January.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Vizmato and not by the Scroll editorial team.