“Atomic Blonde” departs from the fantastical action of superhero movies, in favor of the realistic

If you haven’t already heard, Atomic Blonde is a fierce action movie, with powerful, dynamic fight sequences. And when approaching the action of the film — which stars Charlize Theron as British spy Lorraine Broughton — a huge emphasis was put on making it appear realistic.

In fact, that’s part of what attracted stunt coordinator Sam Hargrave to Atomic Blonde in the first place.

“[Director] David Leitch is a close friend of mine, and he asked me to do it,” he told HelloGiggles of how he became involved in the project. “It was his first solo directing gig and he asked me to be a part of it, and I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve worked with him many times. He’s given me lots of opportunities in the past, and I wanted to work with him.”

“His idea for the action of this film was ‘hyper real with real consequences,’” Hargrave continued. “So he wanted to be as realistic as possible in a graphic novel world, because this story was based on The Coldest City. He wanted it to be very real and very palpable and very free.”

And you definitely feel that, particularly in the intense and climactic stairwell fight in which Lorraine can barely bring herself to face her opponent because she’s so beat up, as is he.

For Hargrave, the approach was a nice change of pace.

That’s because he’s worked on a number of superhero films in recent years in which the action is much more fantastical, and there are fewer consequences. Some of those films include Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War.

“It was a refreshing change from all the superhero movies,” he said. “I love working on Marvel films, don’t get me wrong. They are a dream to work on. It’s a fun, escapist kind of action. But [it was exciting] to go back to, I want to say my roots — the kind of action that I am drawn to, which is that hard-hitting, more realistic style of action, where there are real consequences to everyone’s actions.”

Hargrave added that there’s a “musical cadence” to the action in Atomic Blonde, and that the filmmaking team “tried to accentuate moves with falls and stunts that really put the exclamation point on the action preceding it.”

Speaking of a musical cadence, Atomic Blonde has an amazing, retro soundtrack that really fuels the action.

“That was mostly David’s vision,” Hargrave explained. “We did plan a couple of sequences around songs that he had in his head. A lot of that was integral to the design of the action.” That said, Hargrave noted that he hadn’t seen the final product at the time of the interview, so he wasn’t sure if those songs made it in because of licensing or availability. “But, I know that music was a big part of David’s vision. It plays a pretty cool role in what I’ve seen of the film.”

Looking ahead, Hargrave has another superhero film on the horizon. You might have heard of it — Avengers: Infinity War?

Ah yes, that sounds familiar. Well, Hargrave offered a brief tease of what to expect from that, and the action in particular.

“Never before in, basically movie history, have so many superheroes come together in one film. The Russo brothers [who directed the film] were trying to make it as grounded as possible,” he said, noting that it’s still a fantasy, family-friendly movie with superheroes, so of course there are certain limitations. “[They were trying to] tell this super story in a very relatable way, and make it all about character-driven action with consequences because it raises the stakes.”

“There’s a point in the Marvel universe, in this phase three, where things are winding down,” he continued. “So we’re trying to make the stakes as high as possible and bring the audience on a journey that will be unforgettable. I can guarantee that.”

Atomic Blonde is now in theaters, but it’ll be a long wait until Avengers: Infinity War. That hits theaters on May 4th, 2018.