When 8 DAYS asked Charlize Theron in April if she was disappointed that she didn’t get to do a lot of action in Fast & Furious 8, she said she wasn’t. In fact, she was glad that the heavy lifting was done by her cast-mates. “I had just come off a film where I did a lot of action,” the Oscar winner explained. “So I was okay with a break from throwing myself down staircases.”
That movie she was referring to is Atomic Blonde. In the bruising Cold War thriller — directed by John Wick co-helmer David Leitch — Theron plays Lorrain Broughton, a MI6 agent tasked with recovering a dossier of secret agent identities in 1989 Berlin, just days before The Wall is torn down. To prepare for the movie’s many brutal fight scenes, Theron, who’s also the producer, trained her ass off for three to five hours a day for three months.
One of the buzzy set-pieces is a 12-minute sequence (what the what?) that took four days to shoot and looks as though Theron beat up a bunch of baddies in a stairwell in a single take (even if it's not, it’s so meticulously put together you can’t tell where the seams are). “I don’t need to do 25 edits to make Charlize look formidable,” says Leitch, who’s currently making Deadpool 2 . “I just need her in front of the camera, doing the fight, and people are going to go bananas.”
And before you go bananas, here are five more awesome one-shot action scenes to revisit…
1. Breaking News (2004)
Directed by Johnnie To
Trigger-happy robber Richie Ren and his crew wake up Hongkong with a breath-taking seven-minute long shoot-out.
2. Hardboiled (1992)
Directed by John Woo
The last, pre-Hollywood John Woo classic features Chow Yun-Fat and Tony Leung in a three-minute gunplay.
3. Tom Yum Goong (aka The Protector) (2005)
Directed by Prachya Pinkaew
Is Tony Jaa a superhero from another planet?
4. Oldboy (2003)
Directed by Park Chan-Wook
Directed by Spike Lee
A pissed off Choi Min-sik takes almost four minutes to clear out a corridor packed with thugs — with just a hammer. Spike Lee tried to replicate the fracas in his remake with Josh Brolin. Which one do you prefer?
5. Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Okay, we cheated a bit. The three-and-a-half minute bonkers church fight — set to Lynyrd Sknyrd’s ‘Free Bird’ — was so masterfully edited that it looks like it unfolded in one take.
Atomic Blonde (R21) opens in cinemas July 27.