By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
I’m fairly sure the producers and directors behind Atomic Blonde wanted to avoid a huge cliche when selecting the music for this film. When I first read about how well this film is doing in the festival circuit, I wondered if Blondie’s song, “Atomic” might get used. Thankfully, it was not and much of the soundtrack is focused on bringing to life the atmosphere of a war-weary Berlin. Nena’s “99 Luftballoons” is certainly indicative of that spirit and even Peter Schilling’s “Major Tom” (heard in German no less!) hits the point when communication is cut between what’s going on in Germany with the rest of the world.
The cold war is coming to an end, but for Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron), a top level agent for M16, there’s still one more mission. She has to retrieve a microfiche containing a list of double-agents smuggled to the West, but things go awry when there’s an individual who has memorized it and the KGB will stop at nothing to get it.
This film is slick and is filled with plenty of high octane moments. Broughton’s combat prowness can put the Black Widow of Marvel fame to shame. The tension is high as this spy is trying to figure out the allegiances of the so-called allies she’s supposed to be working with. But when there are twists at every turn, even I wondered if David Percival (James McAvoy) can be trusted.
Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella) somehow gets the trust of Broughton, but as for what her agenda is, I wanted to know more. Since this movie is loosely based on the 2012 graphic novel The Coldest City, not every detail can be looked up. In the book, Lasalle is a male character. The gender flip is no big deal, and hopefully the appeal of putting Boutella in higher profile roles than supporting will help. She has a saucy appeal that will eventually put her in blockbuster films, The Mummy remake notwithstanding.
This neo-noir movie has a lot of sexiness on its own. From fantastic high octane stunts to lengthy fights tracked by a camera (i.e. there were minimal cuts), I was blown away. The music leaves a lasting impression as it may well also touch upon the meaning as the musicians intended, instead of appropriated. And besides, I will never tire of listening to Queen’s “Under Pressure.”
4 Stars out of 5