1989 Berlin is chaos. An MI6 agent was just murdered. Sensitive intel is now in the hands of the KGB. A double agent code-named “Satchel” is leaking MI6 information to the Soviets like a garden hose. Special agent Lorraine Broughton is dispatched into the mayhem of the Cold City with a simple objective—secure the List at any cost.
ATOMIC BLONDE — 8.8 of 10
What to UN-Expect (If You Saw The Trailer Like Me)
The first thing that struck me about this movie is how unexpected it was. A few flashy trailers left me anticipating something not unlike the Sin City movies (maybe a little less noir): lots of larger-than-life oversexed James-Bond-esque spy action, complete with flashy gunplay, exaggerated hand-to-hand combat, and plenty of dark sunglasses when the sun’s not out. Oh, and don’t forget the slinky evening gowns. I wasn’t expecting much depth, instead anticipating a very shallow, cinematic, effects-dependent production. But Atomic Blonde has a few tricks up its sleeve. Instead of the showy production the trailers seemed to be promising, David Lietch’s first solo directorial credit packs a lot more substance on all counts.
The trailer also sets up a neon-lights-y theme, and this sticks for the film. There is a heavy neon feel to the movie, if neon can describe a feeling. The film is a clever juxtaposition of vibrant garish colors and the overall palette of muted somber tones. Little aspects of the film create to this, such as emphases on lights in the videography, recurring club scenes, and an animation of old school graffiti stencils being sprayed by brightly colored paint when text is needed on screen. Another favorite thematic element was the emphasis on rockin’ 80’s music. The film is drenched in it, and tastefully so. The soundtrack style alongside the other quirky eye-catching elements gives the film a distinct and defined personality. There’s a very sensual side to this movie in every sense of the word.
No Spoiler Synopsis
MI6 agent James Gascoigne has obtained invaluable intel from a defected Stasi officer known as Spyglass, but in the opening scene of the movie, he’s brutally murdered. The intel he was carrying—a microfilm referred to as The List—is now believed to have fallen into the hands of the KGB. This list contains identities and mission details for covert MI6 and CIA operatives acting as double agents in the U.S.S.R.. Sultry MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton, played by a dynamic Charlize Theron, is sent incognito (clearly) into West Berlin on the eve of the collapse of The Wall. Her mission is to make contact with agent David Percival (James McAvoy) and secure The List—by whatever means necessary. After the opening scene, we see Broughton being questioned by a senior MI6 agent, with a CIA agent also privy. The movie is played in flashbacks as Broughton recounts her story for the record. As she says in the movie, when Broughton arrived in Berlin, she was unknowlingly walking into “a hornets’ nest.” From there, everything gets progressively more and more topsy-turvy, and the viewer follows Broughton on a journey into the tangled web of lies and double-crossing that is the world of a Cold War spy.
I actually really enjoyed the movie. Usually if a movie’s so-so, after letting the effects ruminate in the days following my viewing, I find I’m not too hot on it. The opposite is true here. Sitting here the day after, I think I like it even more. I give Atomic Blonde top marks for story. I like the plot, the way it was presented, and the arc as it develops continuously throughout the entire movie, down to the last seconds. The movie offers engaging actor performances all round. Theron owned her role, leaving nothing to be desired, but the brilliance of McAvoy’s Percival stands alone.
This is an excellent take on a retro spy movie for any fans of the genre out there. It’s an enticing blend of vintage and modern, a movie created with all the technology of 2017 with a story that’s set at the tail end of the 80’s. It’s both true to the era while flaunting a contemporary infusion. It’s a gritty, sexed-up, intriguing action flick, set against the backdrop of one of the most controversial times in history. Give it a whirl, you won’t be disappointed. But remember, keep your wits about you, or who knows what you’ll make of it.
ATOMIC BLONDE – 8.8 of 10