A couple of interesting things about David Leitch’s debut film as director — the leading lady, Chalize Theron is a co-producer, it is based on a graphic novel by Antony Johnston and set in 1989 when the Berlin Wall was about to fall. Which could possibly mean that for a female star to do a spy-action flick, she has to go retro and make it happen for herself. Even in Hollywood, actresses above a certain age are put on a shelf; and today’s nasty terrorist-fighting business is best left to men.
Atomic Blonde is set during the infinitely more exciting Cold War era, never mind that it is not as grand as a Bond film and quite as cloak-and-dagger as a John Le Carre novel. It is meant to prove the star power and atomic ‘hotness’ of Theron and it does, in spite of the Indian censor’s scissors.
Theron plays Lorraine Broughton, an MI6 field operative, who has just returned from Berlin in somewhat battered condition, and is being debriefed by her own handler (Toby Jones) and a CIA man (John Goodman).
She had been sent there following the murder of their man in Berlin, who had acquired a list of all their agents,that would put their lives in danger if it fell into the wrong hands.
Her contact in Berlin is the shadowy David Percival (James McAvoy), whose loyalties are suspect. There is also a double agent called Satchel around, that ups the risk for Lorraine, as she has a series of hand-to-hand combats and shootouts with dangerous-looking men and a roll in the sheets with French agent (Sofia Boutella).
There is a lot of double-crossing going on, and many people — the Russians in particular, after the List. There is a terrific action scene when Lorraine attempts to smuggle a Stasi man across the border, but what could go against the film is very little interest left in Cold War shenanigans, and a plot that is just an excuse for Theron’s kickass fight sequences. But who she really is and what motivates her is left unsaid.
She is given a sexy wardrobe, an inscrutable expression and let loose in Berlin with an Eighties’ soundtrack and plenty of neon lighting. The movie is fun while it lasts, but at the end of it, you would have trouble remembering who the bad guys were and why all the fuss about the List.