The crown jewel of Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service, Agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is equal parts spycraft, sensuality and savagery, willing to deploy any of her skills to stay alive on her impossible mission. Sent alone into Berlin as the Communist regime in East Germany is collapsing, she must deliver a priceless dossier out of the destabilized city. She partners with embedded station chief David Percival (James McAvoy) to navigate her way through the deadliest game of spies.
Review by Louise Keller:
Coated with lashings of style and impressively choreographed action sequences, Atomic Blonde is surreal entertainment, although the spy narrative is a bit of a muddle. Not that it really matters: David Leitch's stunt-packed action thriller has enough eye candy in the shapely form of the fabulous Charlize Theron as she dons high fashion before tantalisingly removing it to sensual bare skin. Based on a graphic novel, the unique element of this high kicking actioner is its November 89 Berlin setting, just before the wall came down. Known for John Wick and dozens of films in his capacity as stunt co-ordinator, Leitch has worked the material into a visual tour de force, keeping his leading lady front and centre as she downs vodka and kicks ass.
After a brief prologue, the film begins with Theron's MI6 operative Lorraine Broughton looking worse for wear with a black eye and sore knuckles, taking comfort in a blue-tinged ice bath and generous swig of vodka on the rocks, before the debriefing with her superiors. The plot plays out in flashback, as Lorraine is told to 'trust no-one' when she begins her Berlin assignment: to find the missing high value asset list of British agents. James McAvoy's man on the ground David Percival is her point of contact but as Lorraine soon notices, their 'ideas of collaboration' are different. McAvoy is as intense as always, ratcheting up the stakes, even when we are not exactly sure who is loyal to whom.
I lost count of the colourful characters, but worthy of note are Eddie Marsan as Spyglass, Toby Jones as the MI head, John Goodman as the CIA chief and Sofia Boutella (The Mummy) as the French spy Delphine with whom Lorraine has an erotic lesbian relationship. The violence is graphic and brutal as all forms of weaponry come into play including corkscrew, lampshade, rope and a red stiletto. Cars pirouette on land and water in a barrage of stunts, but the film is essentially Theron in full flight, convincing as an action hero and a pleasure to watch from every angle.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
A spy story set in the final days of the Cold War, when spy stories are at their most comfortable, Atomic Blonde has the sort of title you might find on a comic or a graphic novel. And that's exactly where it comes from, a graphic novel. It is certainly graphic - and novel. Agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) distinguishes herself in many ways among the genre's spies, from her vodka fetish to her bold fashion sense to her savage fighting skills and not least, to her sensual beauty. There was minor commotion amongst the men at our preview when she bedded a fellow female agent with zest.
But that's the least of it in this film, an often hard edged spy story based on the simplest and oldest of the genre's formulas: Agent Broughton's mission is to retrieve a complete list of secret agents who are embedded in Europe, before the KGB gets its hands on it. This is the classic element, the only one really, because the rest of the film adopts the verve of the comics, all over the top and unfettered to reality. It's a trip. The colours, the music, the graphics that tell us where we are and the bloody fights that are so realistic they make other action films seem rather tame. There are lasting bruises and there is blood, but not just on the baddies ...
Perhaps one reason why Atomic Blonde is so invested in the fight scenes is that director David Leitch is first and foremost a stunt man from way back, and although this is his feature debut, he did direct some scenes in John Wick. He is now directing Deadpool 2, which is in production as Atomic Blonde is releasing around the world (during July and August 2017).
Structured like a series of flashbacks in which we are taken back to the action from the MI6 HQ where she is being debriefed by her boss (Toby Jones) in the company of the CIA's rep (John Goodman), the film has a blast of a score (by Tyler Bates) which is almost a character on its own. Much of it shot in Hungary, the film looks the goods and has enough energy to power you on your way home.
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ATOMIC BLONDE (MA15+)
CAST: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, James Faulkner, Roland Moller, Sofia Boutella, Bill Skarsgard, Sam Hargrave, Johannes Haukur Johannesson, Til Schweiger, Barbara Sukowa
PRODUCER: A. J. Dix, Eric Gitter, Beth Kono, Kelly McCormick, Peter Schwerin, Charlize Theron
DIRECTOR: David Leitch
SCRIPT: Kurt Johnstad (graphic novel by Antony Johnson, Sam Hart)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jonathan Sela
EDITOR: Elisabet Ronaldsdottit
MUSIC: Tyler Bates
PRODUCTION DESIGN: David Scheunemann
RUNNING TIME: 115 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 3, 2017