Blu-ray Review: Atomic Blonde - Out Now

Atomic BlondeBased on the graphic novel The Coldest City by Kurt Johnstad and set during the Cold War, Atomic Blonde follows undercover MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) as she is sent to Berlin to investigate another agent (Sam Hargrave)’s murder, as well as recover a list of double agents before it gets into the wrong hands. Upon reaching her destination, she is required to join forces with fellow agent David Percival (James McAvoy).

The movie boasts an excellent cast. Theron was made for this role, and I really liked the interplay and tension between her and McAvoy. John Goodman as Emmett Kurzfeld as well as Eddie Marsan as Spyglass were also a fine additions.

Atomic BlondeThe style of the film really suits a graphic novel, which it was based on. The mood of the film and grittiness of the sets really help to capture what was going on in Berlin at that time. The 1980s soundtrack and costumes add to that.

The film was directed by John Wick’s David Leitch, and for the action, the movie has it all. There are some fantastic action sequences that were greatly choreographed and filmed, and overall the film has excellent visuals.

I really wanted to like this film. Theron looks terrific, and it is a lot of fun watching her kick everyone’s ass, but it feels a bit empty when it comes to the story; the plot is very thin. If the action is not what is most important to you as a viewer, this film may not be for you.

The storyline is slow, and I found it even slightly boring at times. The movie keeps switching out of the action back to Broughton’s interrogation, which makes it worse, really interrupting the pace of the film.

As some spy films are, the story becomes convoluted and confusing. I’m all for smart movies, and I appreciated the twists, but many of the threads upon reaching the conclusion of the film don’t seem to add up.

I have to be honest, if I wasn’t reviewing the film, I likely would have quit watching in the middle; I like action films, but I also need substance. The story was okay, but not outstanding. It felt pretentious at times, feeling like it had something to say about the events in Berlin, but didn’t quite get there. All of that being said, however, in the end, I am glad I kept watching.

If you make it to the end of the film, the ending is actually very good, but for many it may not be worth ploughing through the spy versus spy mess to get to that point. I always say that to me a great film with an unsatisfying ending doesn’t mean it wasn't a good movie, if you enjoyed the journey, but on the flip side an impressive ending doesn’t make up for a boring movie.

The movie may be style over substance, but I still had an overall positive experience in the end watching it. If you are looking for an enjoyable escape and love fight and action scenes, or just Charlize Theron, Atomic Blonde is worth watching, just don’t expect a mind-blowing story.

Bonus Features:

Deleted/Extended Scenes (7:23) - There are six scenes to choose from, or you can choose to play all: “Russian Driver,” “Hidden Stash,” “Nice to Meet You,” “Not Afraid of Love,” “Broughton’s Promotion,” and “Watch for Sale.”

Welcome to Berlin (4:33) - The crew, including co-producer/author of The Coldest City, Antony Johnston, talk about the setting of Berlin and how it was the ultimate city for a Cold War spy novel because of its make-up, being so divided at the time. They also discuss filming in Budapest as well as creating the practical sets and bringing authenticity to the film. Theron, McAvoy, and a couple other cast members also weigh in.

Atomic BlondeBlondes Have More Gun (7:01) - Along with behind-the-scenes footage, the crew, McAvoy, and Theron herself talk about her character and her role in the action sequences. The stunt coordinator Sam Hargrave, who also plays James Gasciogne, talk about Theron training, how fast she picked up on things, and how hard she worked. The director talks about making the moves more complex because she could handle it. Theron also discusses her stunts.

The main action sequence discussed is the apartment fight that moved down the stairs, out into the street, and eventually led to the car chase.

Spymaster (4:18) - Theron talks about why she wanted David Leitch to direct the film, and the cast and crew talk about working with him, as well as his fresh take on the genre. There is also a bit on the stunt team. The feature also includes more behind-the-scenes footage.

Anatomy of a Fight Scene (7:52) - Leitch breaks down the long fight scene in the apartment, which was one long take. While he talks, both the finished version of the film and behind-the-scenes stunt footage play alongside each other for comparison. He talks about the stunts themselves and how parts of the set like the stairs and parts of the wall were foam.

Story in Motion - There is an option to watch the two animated storyboards with or without commentary by the director.

   * Agent Broughton (2:16) - This one is animated storyboards of the introduction
     of the character from the beginning of the film, describing her bruises and cuts as
     she takes her ice bath and gets ready to leave for MI6, leading into her entrance
     into headquarters.

     Leitch describes the sequence, which he used to help pitch the movie. He talks
     about wanting to show her as tough yet empathetic.

   * The Chase (1:38) - This piece is the animated storyboards for James Gasciogne
      being chased and killed at the start of the film.

     Leitch talks about collaborating on the boards and how the cinematographer’s
     ideas got added in. The storyboards ended up being almost shot for shot what
     they filmed for the scene.

Feature Commentary with Director David Leitch and Editor Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir (154:44) - The director and editor talk about the creation of the film, including effects and the music.

Atomic BlondePreviews - The following film trailers can be chosen from the disc: The Mummy, Lucy, The Zoo Keeper’s Wife, Dallas Buyers Club, Nocturnal Animals, and The Beguiled. There is also an option to play all.

The disc is also front loaded with an ad for various movies from the distributor Focus Features, as well as trailers for Darkest Hour, Cult of Chucky, Logan Lucky, and Kidnap. There is also an option to skip one or all of the trailers to go to the film before each preview.


The Blu-ray version of the film comes in the normal blue clamshell case with slipcover. Inside is a paper with the code for a digital copy of the film, which can be used with iTunes. It is most beneficial to redeem through iTunes, as it will grant you a 4K digital version of the movie for free.

Also included on the flip side of the paper is a code to redeem another free digital movie.

Final Thoughts:

Atomic Blonde is a fun spy film with some incredible action sequences, but they come at the cost of a lackluster story. However, even though it dragged along during a good portion of the film, the payoff makes it worth a watch for action fans.

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