18 July 2018 | one-nine-eighty
Oh, your hair is beautiful, oh, tonight - Atomic!
This cool, sexy and gritty spy action thriller is set during the concluding stages of the cold war in 1980's Berlin, where East and West are still separated by a wall, the police are brutal, the people live in fear, and poverty is rife. An MI6 spy has got hold of a list from a Soviet defector; the list contains names and information on a whole group of global spies from different countries networks, giving names as well as history. The list would prolong, if not ensure the Western world lost the cold war. Unfortunately the MI6 agent is assassinated. Although there is a theory on who has the list nobody is entirely certain, but it's a race against time to get the list as other countries spies all rush to be the first to claim the list for their country. We follow Lorraine Broughton (Theron), she's called in by MI6 to go to Berlin and retrieve the list. On arrival, she partners up with David Percival (McAvoy), who is an embedded spy in Berlin that knows the lay of the land. She soon discovers she's in a world where you can't trust anybody as she gets shot at, beaten up, drown, strangled and stabbed - but Lorraine is a tough nut, she's ready and willing to do whatever it takes, with or to whoever in order to do her job.
I really enjoyed this film, it was stylish and sleek while also being dirty and nasty, it was high octane and packed with thrills and action too, but it also had trudging slower moments too. Based on Antony Johnston's graphic novel "The Coldest City", the film really delivers the look and feel of what I have come to expect from graphic novella. It had multiple layers with twists and turns enough to keep me entertained and intrigued. It was refreshing to see a female spy deliver a performance that was probably grittier and more kick-ass than your typical Bond/Bourne performance. The fight choreography is brutal and raw, which is nice to see, I'm bored of perfect fight scenes where wired and roped actors perform a kung-Fu dance rather than try to survive. Yes, it looked like it hurt and it looked like Theron's character suffers - I'd expect this, unlike Hollywood's usual jump out of a 3rd story window and walk away with no cuts or bruises. Set in the 80's the film not just stylized the look and feel of the world being portrayed, but the film style itself, the cinematography followed many a film from the 80's in its set-up. It was like this film was themed 80's throughout but had the intelligence of a modern film. The soundtrack was fun, and it was lovely to see the psychological juxtapositions of generally happy music set against nasty backgrounds or violence - I guess based on other reviews, some people don't understand this concept. Nor do the other reviews do credit to the characters in the film and the performances - this isn't just a vehicle to show how cool and sexy Theron is (and she is); McAvoy isn't just drifting through the film for a pay check - he plays broken quite well; Goodman isn't sleepwalking into a film credit, this isn't going to end Boutelle's career because she plays a naïve French spy really well; Jones is believable as a bumbling office jockey - come on people, open your eyes!! A lot of the reviews I have read about this film really do the film an injustice - avoid the reviews and make your own mind up.
When it comes to rating films I'm tight with my stars, I would have awarded this a 7.5, but due to the terrible reviews I've seen I'm rounding up - Atomic Blonde can have an 8 out of 10 for me.