Directed by: David Leitch
Produced by: Eric Gitter, Peter Schwerin, Kelly McCormick, Charlize Theron, A. J. Dix and Beth Kono.
Based on the Oni Press Graphic Novel Series: ‘The Coldest City’, Written by Antony Johnston and Illustrated by Sam Hart
Screenplay by: Kurt Johnstad
Starring: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Til Schweiger, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella and Toby Jones.
Based on the Oni Press Graphic Novel Series, The Coldest City, Atomic Blonde was cold alright, with Lorrain Broughton (Charlize Theron) a killing machine breed out of MI6 to seek out the assassinator of a spy, who stole a list of all the identities of Western agents operating in Berlin, behind The Iron Curtain, circa 1989.
Atomic Blonde is a spy/action movie set in the 80s like I’ve never seen before. So 80s it took a while for the movie to get over itself and get to the meat of the story.
After a failed attempt on her life when landing in Berlin, Broughton makes contact with Station Chief, David Percival (James McAvoy) – an operative who’s been unmonitored for years; king of the castle, he does as he likes. Percival’s gone feral.
And the closer Broughton gets to finding the list, the more complicated the journey.
It’s a familiar story: spies, betrayal, seduction and deception, but shown in a different way – the 80s flavour of fluorescent paint mixed with the noir persona of Broughton, like the film was trying to establish itself with bright saturated colour against a mute cold character.
I felt the reliance on the early fight scenes heavy until I witnessed a seamless montage of smacking, spraying blood and keys left dangling, impaled in a bad-guy’s cheek: AKA gritty fisticuffs that legitimized the film from something that was trying-out 80s noir for size, into a sit-up and take-me-serious action movie.
I like a film that explores a different vibe and no other actor could have achieved the feminine brutality of Broughton like Theron. Every single fight scene in the film is Theron, hence that seamless raw feel.
Angelina Jolie also played the seductive spy in, Salt (2010), but Theron has stepped up and brought a brute coldness to this role. The sensual was there with some steamy scenes with French operative, Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella, who you’ll remember from the recent film, The Mummy (2017)). But what I really believed was the brute force of Broughton’s nature.
And Atomic Blonde is all about Broughton. There’s only a hint of belly to humanise the character, the rest is all action – a hallmark of director David Leitch being a stunt man himself and directing the highly successful, John Wick (2014). He likes his characters dry and unrelenting. And Theron was perfect for the role.
Atomic Blonde twists the classic noir genre into something else; for me, the action was the highlight.