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" From now on I’ll get someone else to handle my divorces "
— Hugh Grant, Two Weeks Notice

MRQE Top Critic

Atomic Blonde

Atomic Blonde offers an excitingly fresh and strong female lead. —Matt Anderson (review...)

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Forgive me for being blunt, but Kiss the Girls is a sexist and chauvinistic movie.

The movie introduces Detective Alex Cross, a forensic psychologist, talking down a suicide attempt (damsels rescued: 1). It also introduces us to the bad guy leaving a woman to the wolves, tied to a tree in the middle of a forest. The movie introduces us to one more person, Kate McTiernan, who is already a doctor at the age of about 24, so it appears. She specializes in brain trauma, so it’s ironic that she’s also a kickboxer. (Maybe it’s her way of drumming up clientele.)

Turns out that Cross’ niece has been abducted recently, probably by the bad guy we saw at the beginning. Cross takes a few days off from his duties in Washington D.C. to see if he can help the boys in North Carolina with his niece’s case. He learns that one of the kidnapper’s M.O.s is that he targets strong women.

Not too long after that, Kate is abducted by the faceless bad guy, in spite of her kickboxing ability. He puts her in a cave-like room where Kate hears several other women being held. (Nine “strong” women are no match for one man.) The kidnapper psychologically torments the women. He breaks their wills and forces them to submit. But before Kate’s will is completely gone, too much luck and not enough strength allow her to escape the cave system into the surrounding wilderness. When she is finally cornered, she doesn’t kick the kidnapper in the groin like she learned in class. Instead she jumps into a raging stream, taking her chances with the elements.

This paragraph gives away bits of the ending. Cross and Kate become the team that will investigate the crimes and track down the kidnapper. When it comes time to face the kidnapper, Cross singlehandedly rescues the nine “strong” women (damsels rescued: 10). But the movie has a coda. The bad guy slipped away and at the end, Kate will face her captor one last time. “Strong” kickboxing Kate will face a stabbed, lacerated bad guy and still require another man to rescue her (damsels rescued: 11! Hooray for the men! Our women are safe!)

To be fair, I didn’t hate this movie. It was no worse than many mainstream films. There was even a scene or two that made me jump in surprise. But the movie was so careless that I couldn’t forgive it.

For example, Cross is a forensic psychologist, but he knows more about a drug that the kidnapper uses than our medical doctor (she is only a woman, though).

Also, Cross made some major mistakes in dealing with his psychologically abused victims. The kidnapper spoke to them without revealing his face. His was a calm, faceless voice. When Kate is rescued, one of the first things Cross does is approach her from behind in a calm reassuring voice, just like the kidnapper did. Another victim was forced to play her violin for her kidnapper. After her rescue, cross gives her a new violin. Just what a traumatized victim needs: a little reminder of her torture.

Finally, in Cross’ raid on the kidnapper’s hideout, he says that logic dictates there should be no FBI involvement. He never explains why this is so, and he was probably wrong. But then he couldn’t be the knight in shining armor, could he?

In addition, the filmmaking was uneven. The movie did have a good “look” to it, but it was often disrupted by a single bad element. For example, the cave-rooms where the women were held looked like they were recycled from the original Star Trek TV series. And there were times when the sound editing was clunky and unsubtle.

I suppose this movie could have earned a lower rating, but somehow, all these flaws didn’t congeal until after the movie was over, so the experience itself wasn’t that bad. Still, that’s hardly a reason to see this movie.