An operation in Berlin goes terribly awry in this action-packed spy thriller. The story unfolds from the perspective of Lorraine Broughton, an agent who was right in the middle of it all.
Spy films are always fun to watch. They’re mysterious, smart, and full of action and epic fight/chase scenes. Viewers are usually left wondering what side the various characters are on as well. The concept of double agents, espionage, and betrayal are just a few of the attributes seen in these types of films. A few examples of mainstream spy films include: the Jason Bourne series, Body of Lies, John Wick, Salt, and many more. In a lot of ways Atomic Blonde is a combination of these types of movies.
From the opening scene of Atomic Blonde, we find an agent on the run. Viewers won’t have the faintest idea why they’re running, but know it’s a bad situation. It’s an event that sparks a domino effect, leaving various agencies on both sides of the wall searching for answers and information. We learn there’s a list of double agents containing their identities and codenames. This list puts a lot of lives at risk, so its recovery is of the upmost importance. This is also the peak of the Cold War, so agencies all over the world are at their wits end. In order to resolve the situation as quickly as possible, the MI6 decide to send their best agent, Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) to investigate the murder, and recover the list of double agents. With her wicked good looks and uncanny fighting skills, she’s the perfect agent for the job. Her beauty draws the attention of many, but she’s clever enough to avoid those who risk revealing her true self. Even when she’s discovered, Lorraine finds a way to fight and/or kill her way out. During her efforts, she’s partnered with David Percival (James McAvoy) who’s made a name for himself in Berlin. From the outside, Percival seems like a drunken playboy, but Lorraine can see through this deception. They play nice with one another, but with both their lives’ at stake, no one can be trusted.
The film unfolds in a non-linear fashion. Viewers watch as Lorraine tells the story to her superiors’ from her perspective. She’s been brutally beaten, and they are concerned about her well-being. They are also very concerned about the list of double agents. This story calls upon her memory of the situation, while providing a third-party perspective at the same time. The timeline is all over the place, but it’s edited in a way so it’s not difficult to tell what’s going on and when.
Think Lorraine can find the list and determine what happened to the fallen undercover agent? What will happen if the list of double agent’s is revealed? You’ll have to tune in to find out!
Enough about that…Lets take a look at what’s included on this 4K UltraHD release.
The menu design consists of a static image of Lorraine holding a pistol. The menu options are listed along the top-left, and include: Play, Chapters, Setup, Bonus and Previews. The ‘Chapters’ option displays four chapters at a time. Each one is numbered and includes a snapshot from the scene. The ‘Setup’ option lets viewers choose the audio and subtitle tracks for the film. The Audio tracks include: English DTS X, Spanish 5.1 dts Digital Surround, French 5.1 dts Digital Surround, and DVS (Descriptive Video Service). The Audio Commentary can be accessed from here as well. The ‘Subtitle’ languages include: English, Spanish, and French.
Now let’s take a look at the Bonus Features included with this release.
– Audio Commentary: This feature is on both the 4K and 1080p Blu-ray discs. The rest of the bonus features are on the 1080p disc. If you’re a fan of the creative methods used to shoot this film, I highly recommend listening to the Audio Commentary with Director David Leitch and Editor Elisabet Ronaldsdottir. The two recount the various scenes, complement their beauty, and explain some of the shots captured during the filming. One shot I was particularly impressed with is when Lorraine and Percival are being chased towards the end of the film. The camera does a wild dolly shot inside their car. It travels from the backseat, through the front seats, spins around, and travels back to the original position. It’s a very impressive shot they pulled off flawlessly. Viewers/listeners get a little inside explanation of how they accomplished this in the commentary.
– Deleted/Extended Scenes (7:23 HD): Most of these scenes were likely cut for time, or because they took away from the flow of the story. Fans of the film may want to give these a viewing though. The scenes between Lorraine (Charlize Theron) and Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella) are quite beautiful.
– Welcome to Berlin (4:33 HD): The Producers felt Berlin was the perfect cold-war city. At the time, it was filled with spies from agencies all over the world. The wall that split the city was a great character for the film as well. It represented the division and deception of the various spies there. Viewers will never know who these spies are truly working for.
– Blondes Have More Gun (7:01 HD): Charlize Theron is incredibly underrated. This gal can kick some serious ass! If you ever questioned her ability, make sure to watch this extra. Viewers get to see some of the training she went through to prepare for the role. She was up to the challenge, and I’d say she excelled in every way. I’ve always enjoyed her films, and this only solidifies my desire to see more. Bravo!
– Spymaster (4:18 HD): This feature consists of the cast and crew giving high praise to Director David Leitch. Everyone involved felt he was the perfect guy for the job. I couldn’t agree more. He created a very compelling, action-packed, and beautiful spy-thriller.
– Anatomy of a Fight Scene (7:52 HD): In this feature, Director David Leitch explains how they put together the epic stairwell scene. The film is filled with countless stunts, but this scene was a big one. It’s a long take that covers the bloody battle between Lorraine and a bunch of bad dudes. Charlize kicks a lot of ass in this clip too. She did all of this for real, folks. This scene is the payoff for the initial ice bath scene.
– Story in Motion (HD): This feature consists of two scenes in storyboard fashion. There’s an optional commentary by Director David Leitch as well.
Now let’s take a look at the technical side of this 4K Blu-ray release.
The 2160p UltraHD image with High Dynamic Range (HDR) comes with an aspect ratio of 2.39:1, so there are black bars along the top and bottom of your 4K display. No need to worry though, as the high-quality image pulls the viewer into the action. This is a dark film for the most part, so the enhanced quality may not be noticed right away. At least not until the first title overlay appears. The bright green spray paint title practically leaps off the screen. The paint even drips down the bottom subtly. These titles are seen throughout the film since there’s quite a bit of timeline jumping. Even with the mostly-dark image, it still looks pretty darn good. Lorraine wears a bunch of different black and white outfits, so the white really pops. There are several stylized scenes in night clubs and other settings that produce some stunning color as well. One in particular is the bar scene with Lorraine and Percival. The vivid greens and reds are rather stunning to say the lease. And just about all the scenes between Lorraine (Charlize Theron) and Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella) are beautifully lit with color.
The DTS: X Master Audio track does a great job adding to the visuals. The soundtrack is practically a character in itself, and allows for easy transitions between scenes. In the Audio Commentary, we learn that they played a lot of the soundtrack during filming. This was helpful, and allowed the actors to pace themselves to the actual tracks used in the film. The soundtrack booms too, so get ready to fill your home theater with tunes from the 80’s. It’s certainly fun and enjoyable to hear. With countless fight scenes and car chases, viewers receive a multitude of sound effects while watching the film. Punches, kicks, gun shots, broken glass, smashed tables, and even ice cubes will surround the viewer at any given time. The soundtrack does a great job encompassing the viewer as the dialog takes over too. It’s a very well-rounded audio track.
Overall, Atomic Blonde is an action-packed spy-thriller. Charlize Theron was an excellent choice for the role of Lorraine, and the fact she did all her own stunts is amazing. That gal can kick some serious ass! As mentioned previously, this is a film that resembles the Bourne series, John Wick, and others. Having a female lead is a highly desired experience that I’m excited to watch again and again. If you are looking for a new spy-thriller and enjoy the sights and sounds of the 1980’s, you’ll have to check out this film. Pick up Atomic Blonde on 4K UltraHD Blu-ray today!