Although it’s hard to top the real-life cloak and dagger drama unfolding in Washington these days, Atomic Blonde comes pretty damn close. A sleek, sexy Cold War thriller about double (and even triple!) agents duking it out in Berlin during the days leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Atomic is the perfect mix of gritty action and retro cool. And when you factor in the soundtrack featuring killer period jams from the likes of New Order, The Clash, David Bowie, ‘Til Tuesday, and Nena, seriously, what’s not to love?
Starring Oscar-winner Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road, The Huntsman: Winter’s War) as undercover MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton, Atomic revolves around the search for a list of double agents that goes missing in Berlin following the death of Broughton’s boyfriend James (Sam Hargrave). Dispatched to Berlin and partnered with eccentric fellow agent David Percival (Split’s James McAvoy), the team’s mission is made all the more complicated by the fact that the wall is falling and Berlin is crawling with deadly foreign agents from around the globe.
Featuring stellar supporting turns from John Goodman (Argo, 10 Cloverfield Lane), Toby Jones (Infamous, Frost/Nixon) and It’s Bill Skarsgård, Atomic also gives The Mummy’s Sofia Boutella her meatiest role to date as the sweet but doomed French operative Delphine Lasalle. If you’ve seen the trailer you already know that Boutella’s chemistry with Theron practically melts the screen, but the real surprise here is how tender and human the pair’s non-sexual scenes are too. Seriously good stuff.
Based on the 2012 cult graphic novel The Coldest City by Antony Johnston and illustrator Sam Hart, Atomic was adapted for the screen by 300 scribe Kurt Johnstad and directed by John Wick producer David Leitch. And the fact that Leitch cut his teeth as a stuntman in films like Fight Club, Jupiter Ascending, and the Matrix and Bourne series explains where he got his knack for capturing hyper-realistic street brawls like nobody’s business. Fun and insanely brutal at the same time, hand-to-hand combat never looked so cool onscreen. Especially when it takes place beneath the flickering neon glow in the sleek, comic book Berlin that Leitch and Wick cinematographer Jonathan Sela capture so memorably here.
And though the twisty plot gets a little too tangled for its own good sometimes – especially in the very dense opening scenes – Atomic’s style and beautifully choreographed action sequences more than make up for it. You don’t always have to know what’s going on in Atomic to bask in the dreamy, otherworldly glow of it all, so take the film for the tall drink of water that it is and enjoy!
Now playing on select Air France, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, EVA Air, Japan Airlines, and Air Canada flights worldwide, Atomic Blonde is also available via streaming at Amazon Video, iTunes and Google Play.