FILM REVIEW: Atomic Blonde – Cold War Chaos

Neat Ideas Guest Reviewer: Max Turner

The c-bomb is dropped in the first few minutes of the film and we’re off… Set in the late 1980s in Berlin, during the Cold War, Atomic Blonde is a fast paced, new age espionage film. Based on the graphic novel series ‘The Coldest City,’ by Antony Johnston the film is visually mesmerising.

The film features an ice cold yet stunning you guessed it, blonde Charlize Theron, as Lorraine Broughton, a top level agent for M16. Driven by ambition, revenge and all the usual clichés, Broughton has a score to settle in Berlin whilst simultaneously saving the world from a dangerous espionage ring.

The film is narrated by Broughton via an interrogation about the events that unfold in Berlin. Theron channels her inner Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct albeit with an interesting take on a British accent. As the story unfolds we are introduced to a myriad of interesting characters.  A fellow agent, the reckless and battered David Percival played by James McAvoy, guides Broughton through the gritty streets of East and West Berlin. Together they try to find an all elusive ‘list’ that holds top secret information wanted by all major intelligence agencies. The result is an intriguing game of who can you trust? The film pays particular attention to history as agents navigate from East to West Berlin in the final days before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Director David Leitch has a history as a stunt man and it shows. The fight scenes in this film are raw, lengthy and actually quite realistic. In one standout scene in the film, Broughton uses everything at her disposal to get out of a particularly tricky situation. Needless to say, you’ll never look at your car keys the same way.

Children of the 80s rejoice. The soundtrack of this film is incredible. From Public Enemy to Bowie, the music is this film’s saving grace. Set against the backdrop of Berlin, the film oozes a certain level of cool synonymous with Berlin. Add a bit of fashion to the mix, (Charlize almost always fights in leather and heels) and East and West Berlin never looked so good.

Given the cast, setting and subject matter, Atomic Blonde really should work.  Sadly the movie fails to deliver the type of cinematic magic that warrants a second viewing.  With a few laugh out loud moments and epic fight scenes you will be mildly entertained but this one spy movie that just misses the mark.