Atomic Blonde is James Bond and Mission: Impossible for the 21st century and instead of Messrs Craig and Cruise we have Charlize Theron, a female spy. It's ironic then that this post-feminist adventure is set in the late 1980s around the fall of the Berlin wall.
An undercover MI6 agent (Theron) is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents. Her contact in Berlin is the city's station chief (played by James McEvoy). John Goodman and Toby Jones round out the cast as a CIA chief and an MI6 spy-master respectively. The story features the usual plot twists and turns as the double-agent is eventually revealed.
The script could have been lifted straight from any number of spy movies however it is presented with a style and panache that brings new life to a jaded trope. The use of classic 1980s songs, with particular use of German synth-pop, bridges the gap between nostalgia and this 21st century update.
The fact that director David Leith, who brought us V for Vendetta and the Bourne Ultimatum, made me curious to see how he dealt with this story based on the graphic novel series "The Coldest City". Leith is accomplished in this action genre. He continues his ability to bring tense, action-filled scenes to life with gritty realism, this time with 6" red stiletto heels.
Theron is believable as the action hero and delivers a sexy yet cruel performance. She is clearly enjoying herself. McEvoy is her equal and he too is revelling in the role of spy. There are sexy scenes, action sequences and dramatic car chases - necessary elements of the spy genre.
We have seen worse.