Charlize Theron is one plutonium powered ‘Atomic Blonde’

A fine mixture of intrigue, action and visuals

Charlize Theron and James McAvoy in ‘Atomic Blonde’
Our Score:

Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is “Ich bin ein Berliner!”… All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein Berliner!” – John F. Kennedy in a speech delivered in West Berlin in June of 1963.

“Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall” – Ronald Reagan in a speech delivered in West Berlin in June of 1987

Atomic Blonde is set in Berlin on both sides of the famed Berlin Wall in the days just before it was “opened” in 1989.  “James Gasciogne” (Sam Hargrave) is an MI-6 agent who is murdered in Berlin.  He was killed by a KGB agent who wanted “The List” that Gasciogne had in his possession.  This list contains the name of every field agent of the Soviet Union.  One name on the list is of particular interest to MI-6 and the CIA, the name of a mole known as Satchel.  “Yuri Bakhtin” (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson) is the KGB man who kills Gasciogne and steals the list.  He has gone to ground but will eventually surface to sell the list.

In London, MI-6 operative “Lorraine Broughton” (Charlize Theron – Prometheus) is called into a debriefing with “Eric Gray” (Toby Jones – Frost/Nixon) of MI-6 and “Emmett Kurzfeld” (John Goodman – Trumbo) of the CIA.  The debriefing is to review what transpired in Berlin after Lorraine was sent there to recover the list, find out who Satchel is, and kill that person.  Her cover story is that she is a barrister dispatched to recover the body of Gasciogne.

When she lands in Berlin she is supposed to be met by her contact, “David Percival” (James McAvoy – Split) but instead she is captured by agents working for “Aleksander Bremovych” (Roland Møller – Land of Mine) an arms dealer who also runs an espionage ring.  She kills his agents and makes her escape in a shot very well-known from the film’s trailer, thanks to her use of a bright red patent leather stiletto heel.  Percival is the MI-6 Chief of Station in Berlin but he has his hands in all sorts of things.

Lorraine meets “Delphine Lasalle” (Sofia Boutella – Star Trek Beyond), who has been surveilling her since she got off the plane at Templehof Airport.  She is working for the DGSE, the French external intelligence agency of the era.  They become very close.  She provides some critical information for Lorraine.

Charlize Theron and Sofia Boutella in ‘Atomic Blonde’

“The Watchmaker” (Til Schweiger – This Means War) works with MI-6 and is also a broker of information.  He is the man that Yuri approaches to sell the list, but Percival manages to locate and kill Yuri.  The question is, what will he do with the list and how will he resolve things with Lorraine.

The plot of this film attempts to create a maze with more twists and turns than the Labyrinth of the mythical Minotaur and that is perhaps its weakest point.  The best spy thrillers are those with the requisite mixture of action, story and strong characters.  The characters here are strong.  The action sequences are even stronger; no doubt due to the career path of director David Leitch (John Wick).  His storied career as a stunt double and work in that area is on display in the excellent fight sequences.  Charlize Theron makes use of a length of hose, a frying pan and a freezer door (among other items) as effective weapons in his fight scenes.  She also gives an ideal “cold as the ice cubes in her vodka” demeanor to her performance.

Adding to the experience on screen is the outstanding musical choices made for this movie.  While they aren’t as intricately enmeshed with the movement and action as we saw in Baby Driver, they are all very well-chosen 80s tracks.

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Brian Milinsky

Brian Milinsky has served in the military, been an FM D.J. and an award-winning radio news reporter/anchor/writer/editor. He is presently a screenwriter and currently lives in Los Angeles.

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