The Plot: Oscar winner Charlize Theron stars as elite MI6's most lethal assassin and the crown jewel of Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service, Lorraine Broughton. When she's sent on a covert mission into Cold War Berlin, she must use all of the spycraft, sensuality and savagery she has to stay alive in the ticking time bomb of a city simmering with revolution and and double-crossing hives of traitors. Broughton must navigate her way through a deadly game of spies to recover a priceless dossier while fighting ferocious killers along the way in this breakneck action thriller from director DAVID LEITCH (JOHN WICK) (Disc sleeve).
Set in the weeks leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall, Broughton arrives in the snow-covered city to track down a confidential list of undercover agents before it falls into the wrong hands. Aiding her in her assignment is eccentric local MI6 agent David Percival (James McAvoy) - although it isn't long before she suspects that he may have his own plans for the list. And where does the mysterious woman (Sofia Boutella) who keeps tailing her everywhere fit into things?
Adapted from Antony Johnston and Sam Hart's 2012 graphic novel The Coldest City, this smart spy thriller cements Charlize Theron's newfound position as one of Hollywood's leading action stars. While Atomic Blonde's Cold War storyline is enjoyable enough, it's the action scenes that really make the film stand out - and thanks to the dramatic single-take preferred by director David Leitch, it's evident that Theron is taking (and dishing out) most of the lumps herself, rather than have stunt doubles do all the heavy lifting (HCC 280, Xmas 2017).
The video: Shot digitally and subjected to plenty of post-production colour grading, Atomic Blonde's 2.40:1 palette veers from cool blue to exteriors with washed-out blacks to richly-saturated interiors that fill the screen with bold primaries (Chapter 10's nightclub scene being a prime example of the latter). There are occasional slight inconsistencies in black levels and detailing, but it is true to the source material and free from encoding-related issues (4).
The audio: Atomic Blonde carries a DTS:X soundtrack that serves up a cornucopia of aggressive and enveloping surround effects (but never straying into unnatural territory) but underscored by pleasingly punchy bass. However, for all of its action credentials, where the mix really comes into its own is with the excellent, full-bodied delivery of the numerous 1980s pop tunes (4).