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NPR Arts & Life

Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'Atomic Blonde'

Charlize Theron plays Agent Lorraine Broughton in <em>Atomic Blonde</em>, the tagline of which is not — repeat,  NOT — "It Gets Broughton!" because nobody thought to ask us.
Charlize Theron plays Agent Lorraine Broughton in <em>Atomic Blonde</em>, the tagline of which is not — repeat, NOT — "It Gets Broughton!" because nobody thought to ask us.

Linda Holmes hosts from Los Angeles, where she's still attending the Television Critics Association press tour. This week, she's joined by two regular panelists — me and NPR Music's Stephen Thompson — and in our fourth chair, PCHH's resident Poobah of Punching, Chris Klimek.

This episode: We talk Atomic Blonde, the spy thriller dripping with I Love the 80s style elements that's directed with a surprising amount of attention to the logistics of brawling — how it looks, how it feels, and how physically exhausting it is.

We discuss Theron's performance (both dramatic and physical), director/longtime stunt coordinator David Leitch's approach, and — in reference to a set-piece brawl set in a stairway — what makes a great action scene. We also talk about how and why mapping genre conventions we've seen in hundreds of previous dude-spy movies onto Theron's character switches things up in surprising ways.

Reminder: We're now bringing you two episodes of Pop Culture Happy Hour every week. Check back in on Friday as we talk about the second seasons of HBO's Insecure, as well as What's Making Us Happy this week.

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