Atomic Blonde (2017)

Atomic Blonde - Charlize Theron

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In 1989, before the collapse of the Berlin Wall, MI6 agent James Gasciogne is shot and killed by KGB agent Yuri Bakhtin, who steals the List, a piece of microfilm concealed in a wristwatch that contains a list of every intelligence agent (on both sides) active in Berlin. Ten days later, Lorraine Broughton, a top-level spy for MI6, is brought in to be briefed by MI6 executive Eric Gray and CIA agent Emmett Kurzfeld about her mission to Berlin.

The day after Gasciogne’s death, Lorraine is dispatched to Berlin to recover the List and is told to trust no one and keep an eye out for KGB’s Satchel, a double agent who has been a stain on MI6 for years. When she arrives in Berlin, she is immediately ambushed by KGB agents who deliver her a message from KGB officer Aleksander Bremovych, but she is able to escape and meet up with her contact, David Percival.

After failing to find any immediate leads, Lorraine searches Gasciogne’s apartment and discovers a picture of him and Percival. In the interrogation she tells us Percival had told her he never met Gasciogne and that she got ambushed by the West Berlin police while searching the apartment. She tells us only Percival knew she was going to the apartment, and that she suspected Percival’s motives. When Lorraine visits a restaurant she learned of from the KGB agents that greeted her when she arrived in Berlin she encounters Bremoviych but is “saved” by Delphine Lasalle, a naive French agent, and enters into a romantic relationship with her.

Atomic Blonde

Percival, having tailed Lorraine, is curious about a watchmaker she visited. He spots Bakhtin entering the shop. Bakhtin tells the watchmaker he has a watch full of secrets he will sell to the highest bidder. Emmett Kurzfeld meets up with Lorraine and reminds her how important it is to find the List, he hands her a newspaper. Lorraine calls a number she finds in the newspaper and is informed Satchel is compromised. Percival lures Bakthin to an alley, kills him and takes the List.

When he examines the List he realizes who Satchel is. Lorraine, who does not know Percival has the List, finds out that a Stasi officer codenamed Spyglass, who gave the List to Gasciogne, memorized the List. Lorraine and Percival make plans to escort him across the border to West Berlin. Percival meets with Bremovych, who suspects Percival has the List but is offered the second best thing: information on KGB’s beloved Satchel. Lasalle photographs the meeting between Bremovych and Percival. Because Percival tips off Bremovych’s men, he and Lorraine are ambushed in East Berlin and Percival ends up shooting Spyglass because he can’t risk Lorraine, or the KGB, getting a hold of the List through Spyglass.

Despite Lorraine’s best efforts Spyglass is killed. Lorraine makes it back to West Berlin and realizes Percival has planted a bug in her coat. She tells Lasalle who calls Percival and threatens him. Percival goes to Lasalle’s apartment and kills her both to hide his dirty secrets but also because he can’t be sure she’s not working with Lorraine. When Lorraine arrives too late to save her, she discovers the photographs taken by Lasalle. As Percival burns his safehouse and attempts to flee, Lorraine tracks him down, kills him, and takes the List.

Atomic Blonde

Atomic Blonde is a 2017 American action thriller spy film starring Charlize Theron. The film is based on the 2012 graphic novel The Coldest City, which revolves around a spy who has to find a list of double agents who are being smuggled into the West, on the eve of the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The film is directed by David Leitch, in his first solo directorial credit, and it is written by Kurt Johnstad. The film’s cast includes Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Til Schweiger, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella, and Toby Jones.

Atomic Blonde grossed $51.6 million in the United States and Canada and $45.1 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $96.6 million, against a production budget of $30 million. Atomic Blonde was projected to gross around $20 million from 3,304 theaters during its first weekend. It grossed $1.52 million from Thursday night previews at 2,685 theaters.

After making $7.1 million on its first day (including previews), the film went on to open to $18.3 million, finishing 4th at the box office, behind Dunkirk, The Emoji Movie and Girls Trip. In its second weekend the film dropped 55% to $8.2 million, finishing 7th at the box office. It made $4.5 million in its third week and $2.2 million in its fourth, finishing 10th and 13th at the box office, respectively.

Atomic Blonde (2017)

About the Production

An adaptation of the graphic novel The Coldest City was announced in May 2015. Described by Variety as a “Passion Project” for Theron, she first came across the story five years prior, when her production company Denver and Delilah Productions was sent the then-unpublished graphic novel. Theron’s interest in the first John Wick movie inspired her to get David Leitch, one of the directors, to helm the project. Leitch eventually left John Wick Chapter 2 to direct the film.

According to Theron, the success of Mad Max: Fury Road helped guide the development of Atomic Blonde. The film features a bisexual subplot that was not in the original book. This came from writer Kurt Johnstad, who suggested it after Theron was “thinking about how do you make this different from other spy movies”. Leitch has insisted that the scenes are not there to be “provocative”, but “more about if you are a spy you will do whatever it takes to get information,” and how the main character “find[s] her intimacies and her friendships in small doses”.

Theron’s casting as the lead was announced in May 2015, while James McAvoy was announced that October. In November, John Goodman was reported as also being in talks to join the film It was originally hoped that David Bowie would play a part in the film, although he turned down the offer shortly before his death. To prepare for the role, Theron worked with eight personal trainers, who “basically made [her] puke every single day.” During the process, Theron cracked her teeth from clenching her jaw and had to get them fixed in surgery. She also bruised a rib during her training. As Theron’s training for the movie overlapped with Keanu Reeves’ training for John Wick Chapter 2, the two developed a competitive relationship, which included sparring together.

Atomic Blonde Movie Poster

Atomic Blonde (2017)

Directed by: David Leitch
Starring: James McAvoy, Sofia Boutella, Charlize Theron, John Goodman, Toby Jones, Daniel Bernhardt, Eddie Marsan, Greg Rementer, James Faulkner, Declan Hannigan
Screenplay by: Kurt Johnstad
Production Design by: David Scheunemann
Cinematography by: Jonathan Sela
Film Editing by: Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir
Costume Design by: Cindy Evans
Set Decoration by: Zsuzsa Mihalek, Mark Rosinski
Art Direction by: Zsuzsa Kismarty-Lechner, Tibor Lázár, Wolfgang Metschan
Music by: Tyler Bates
MPAA Rating: R for sequences of strong violence, language throughout, and some sexuality / nudity.
Distributed by: Focus Features
Release Date: July 28, 2017