It’s 1989 at the height of Cold War. The Iron Curtain still hangs and things are kind of freaky in East Berlin. In short, it ain’t good. But as the opening credits shout in graffiti, “This isn’t that story.”
Based on the 1989 Antony Johnson/Sam Hart graphic novel The Coldest City, the film Atomic Blonde follows MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) who is sent to Berlin to recover “the list,” highly coveted intel naming double-agents. Among that list is “Satchel,” a double agent for the the Queen and for the Soviets wanted by the Allies for treason. Broughton’s mission: recover the list and expose Satchel’s identity. Along the way, she meets the shady David Percival (James McAvoy), a fellow agent who indulges in the hedonistic underground culture of East Berlin. The two work together to evacuate Spyglass (Eddie Marsan), the good-guy Stasi officer who has committed the list to memory, and is the Allies’ last shot at obtaining the information.
With a steel-gray and neon palette accompanied by classic 80s music from the likes of Depeche Mode, David Bowie and The Cure, Atomic Blonde is aesthetically a lot of fun. But while the production gets a lot right about the ’80s (as a millennial I can only assume), the hair, makeup and costumes felt more contemporary. But maybe that’s not a bad thing; there’s only so much pleather you can wear before it gets tacky.
Theron plays an excellent heartless and calculating spy while McAvoy is her scruffy, ambivalent, wayward counterpart. And while Atomic Blonde is certainly entertaining, it’s a bit predictable. However, the fight choreography and and gorgeous cinematography make up for some of the substance the plot lacks. Atomic Blonde is a treat on the big screen, but it’s not a necessity. Maybe save a few bucks and enjoy Theron’s ass-kicking at home in a few months.
+ There's no love story
- You can see the plot twists coming from a mile away
Directed by David Leitch
With Theron, McAvoy and Marsan
Regal, Violet Crown, R, 115 min.