Sunday, August 13, 2017

Review: Atomic Blonde

After avoiding a tonne of crap at the cinema this year like Life, The Great Wall, Ghost in the Shell, Transformers 5, whatever nonsense Pirates of the Caribbean movie came out and Valerian last week, I didn't want to break my bullet-dodging streak with Atomic Blonde, an action spy movie starring Charlize Theron and James McAvoy when I found out it had a less than stellar opening at the US box office. Despite reservations I said I would chance it as it was from one of the directors of the glorious John Wick, it's set in the closing years of what I like to call "The good ol' days" (The Cold War) and critics was praising the stylised violence despite the daft plot (or lack of it).

Boy was I glad I did! It has five major hooks:

1. Despite the general unrealistic nature of the fight scenes (possibly stemming from it's graphic novel origins) which often involved near-immortal enemies, the various characters use of benign objects like skateboards, garden hoses and shoes to harm foes with is inventive, especially Charlize Theron's use of a corkscrew.

2. Headshots! Painting a nearby surface with the crimson contents of an enemies head due to ballistic projectile forcefully introduced to (preferably) the face, is too often a misunderstood art-form. There's not a huge amount of it here, but adequate and when it happens it's gloriously perfect, truly sublime.

3. A too-short but hot girl-on-girl sex scene with "proper" nudity.

4. Classic 80's era hits on the soundtrack including Queen, Bowie, George Michael and The Clash (remember back when music was good).

5. While Stoli vodka is consumed like water from beginning to end, the winning goal here is that Atomic Blonde is the largest, borderline vulgar, on-screen product placement/advertisement for Jack Daniels I've ever seen on film. One character even referring to it as coming "straight from the Virgin Mary's tit," and let's be honest - he's not wrong.

So basically about as far removed from a John LeCarre novel as you can get while still being a Cold War spy movie. So if none of the above interest you, then avoid this - but if they do, off you go to the cinema.


Tuesday, August 08, 2017

SPEARHEAD's Vice Commander slate announced

The UNSC today announced the slate for SPEARHEAD's three-star commanders. The four general or flag-officers will be appointed to occupy the billets of it's senior leadership between the OF-9 SPEARHEAD Supreme Commander and the OF-7 SPEARHEAD Deputy Commanders.

Rear Admiral "Smokestack" Henderson [left] U.S. Navy, acting SPEARHEAD Staff Director will assume the role of SPEARHEAD Deputy Supreme Commander in place of Lt. General Sir "Knuckles" McKenzie who has been appointed SPEARHEAD Supreme Commander. Captain Henderson was the UNETIDA Naval Tactical Support officer for the Pacific region until he was appointed UNETIDA Deputy Director in 2009. In 2011, as a Rear Admiral (lower half) he succeeded Royal Air Force Air Vice Marshal "Albatross" Davenport III as UNETIDA Director in an acting capacity until his promotion to Rear Admiral and became SPEARHEAD Deputy Commander for Operations in 2012. Upon the retirement of Air Marshal "Cuckoo" Hawes from the Royal Australian Air Force early this year, Henderson assumed the duties of SPEARHEAD Staff Director. He will assume his new role upon U.S. Senate confirmation of his promotion to Vice Admiral.

The SPEARHEAD Deputy Commander for Global Strategic Plans Division General "Faucon" Davout will be promoted to Army Corps General in the french army and will now serve as the SPEARHEAD Staff Director.

The "U3 - Operations" billet of  SPEARHEAD Deputy Commander for Operations held by Lieutenant General "Voran" Kerimov [right] will now become a 3-Star [OF-8] billet designated SPEARHEAD Vice Commander for Global Operations and Force Integration. The position will initially remain to be held by Kerimov following his pending promotion to the grade of Colonel General in the Russian Aerospace Forces.

The position of SPEARHEAD Vice Commander for Strategic Weaponry has been created to oversee SPEARHEAD's strategic weapon acquisition and control. Middle General "Huǒjiàn" Li of the Chinese People's Liberation Army has been appointed to the role.

Source: UN

Thursday, August 03, 2017

The United States Space Corps - Part VII

The House Rules Committee did not approve for floor debate an amendment by Rep. Scott Perry that would prohibit funding for creating a Space Corps. Rep. Mike Turner chair of the Tactical and Land Forces subcommittee, tried to bring the matter to the full House during debate on the bill, but the Rules Committee did not approve this amendment. Thusly the bill, including the Space Corps directive, has passed. The U.S. Senate has not yet passed its own version of the NDAA. This has to happen before two chambers negotiate a compromise before funding can be secured to implement their decisions.

In their latest media volley this week Representatives Mike Rogers and Jim Cooper voiced their anger at the additional delays for the Air Force's FAB-T for another year and the costs of the OCX program, the next-generation GPS operational control system which has now grown to $6bn, with no sign of costs not increasing even more. “Recent news that GPS OCX has blown through the latest schedule and cost estimates … casts greater urgency on the debate on space reorganization,” they said and that the delays in the two programs cast “greater urgency on the debate on space reorganization.”

“The current system is wasting billions of dollars and failing to deliver capability to the warfighter,” Cooper and Rogers said. “Our adversaries have already reorganized their space programs and are reaping the benefits. Those who continue to oppose reform need to explain to the warfighter, the American people, and their elected representatives how the status quo is acceptable.”

Rogers’ and Cooper’s argument is that the Space Corps will go a long way to address the issue of space acquisition, while the crux of Rogers’ arguments in favour of a Space Corps is that Russia and China have reorganized their military space enterprises and have caught up with the United States in many ways in the last few years, and so the U.S. must act.

Source: Breaking Defense / Defense Times

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Knuckles tapped for SPEARHEAD's top post

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced today the appointment of Lieutenant General Sir "Knuckles" McKenzie, KCB, CBE, DSO of the United Kingdom as Supreme Commander of SPEARHEAD, to take command later in the month.

The appointment will coincide with the retirement of General "Stomper" Santorno, U.S. Army who vacates the position and following Lt-Gen McKenzie's pending appointment to full general by Her Majesty Queen Elizibeth II.

Gen McKenzie brings to the position almost 40 years of international military experience, as well as command and staff experience with both UNETIDA and UNPASID. Before his current appointment as SPEARHEAD Vice Commander in 2014, as an officer with the Parachute Regiment from 1980 to 2000, he was deployed to The Falklands, Northern Ireland and The Balkans. As a colonel, he served as UNETIDA's Director of Personnel (2000-2003) and took part in Operation Telic as Executive Officer of 4 Armoured Brigade (2003-2005). As a brigadier after serving as Regional Operations Commander [Northern] for UNPASID (2005-2008) McKenzie was the Director of Military Operations at the Ministry of Defence (2008-2010). As a major general, he led the Scottish Division of the British Army (2010-2014).

Gen McKenzie is a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath, Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Officer of the Legion of Merit (United States) and a recipient of the Distinguished Service Order, General Service Medal (1962), Special Service Medal (United Nations), Iraq Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Accumulated Campaign Service Medal.

Gen McKenzie has a master’s degree in national security strategy from the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.  He is a graduate of the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, United Kingdom, and the Army Command College in Nanjing, China.

Gen McKenzie is married and has three children and a granddaughter. He enjoys golf and does a remarkable Sean Connery impression.

Source: UN