It’s 1989 and the Berlin Wall is about to fall but the Cold War is far from thawing. When a secret list that contains the true identities of covert agents all over the world is stolen by a Russian assassin, MI6 sends Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) into the fray to recover it. Beautiful, cool and extremely deadly, Lorraine finds herself fighting for her life from the moment she touches down in the world’s coldest city, and she isn’t certain that the loose-cannon operative who’s been teamed up to assist her (James McAvoy) can entirely be trusted. In fact, in this endlessly violent game of cross and double-cross, Lorraine begins to realise that she can’t trust anybody. With the body count mounting, time running out and her odds of survival rapidly evaporating, Lorraine discovers that the only way to get the list back to London is by helping a hunted Stasi officer escape to the West because it seems as if the list now only exists inside his photographic memory. But even if Lorraine can survive the seemingly endless hordes of killers that are on their trail, there is a mole inside the organisation who is waiting to strike when she least expects it.
Atomic Blonde was quite rightfully one of the big screen highlights of the summer – a deftly paced, hyper-kinetic juggernaut that isn’t only ridiculously and painfully-realistically violent (there’s no way that its leading lady didn’t pick up a mess of bruises during the increasingly brutal fight scenes) but also attempts to pull an action movie double-salchow by injecting some genuine intelligence and intrigue into its fiercely beautiful mix. Even if Kurt Johnstad’s screenplay (adapted from Antony Johnston and Sam Hart’s graphic novel The Coldest City) isn’t quite as smart as it wants to be, it’s still a hell of a ride that is perfectly complemented by David Leitch’s assured direction and a mesmerising star turn from Ms. Theron. Movies like Aeon Flux, Prometheus and Mad Max: Fury Road had already proven she could more than cut it as an action star, but what she brings to Atomic Blonde is light years beyond what anyone could have expected. It is impossible not to be awed by her. On top of all that, the soundtrack is pretty perfect as well and any movie that opens with Bowie’s theme from ‘Cat People’ is already miles ahead of the game in my book.
As far as the Blu-ray presentation goes, this is an audio-visually flawless offering from Universal with a handful of brief but worth-a-watch special features including a smattering of deleted and extended scenes (although there’s nothing much to write home about here) and a solid audio commentary from Leitch and his Editor Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir. Here’s hoping that this is only the start of Lorraine Broughton’s cinematic adventures because there’s no doubt that Theron, Leitch and Atomic Blonde could become a very fine franchise indeed.
ATOMIC BLONDE / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: DAVID LEITCH / SCREENPLAY: KURT JOHNSTAD / STARRING: CHARLIZE THERON, JAMES ACAVOY, EDDIE MARSAN, JOHN GOODMAN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW