A rollicking spy vs. spy flick, “Atomic Blonde” has the title character, MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron), arriving in Germany right before the Berlin Wall falls. Lorraine has been sent to meet David Percival (James McAvoy) and secure “the list,” a document detailing agents — one a double — who must not fall into the hands of the KGB, who will kill for it.
The characters hopscotch back and forth between East and West Germany. The film also toggles back and forth between Lorraine’s being debriefed by her superior, Eric Gray (Toby Jones), and a CIA representative, Emmett Kurzfeld (John Goodman), and her experiences with David. “Atomic Blonde” is not deep enough to be confusing, though the action scenes are executed at a breakneck pace. Lorraine dispatches a series of men with some very flashy moves — just watch as a lengthy, body-bruising encounter in a stairwell turns into a knock-down, drag-out fight that transitions into an exciting car chase. It’s an extended sequence that is bloody, breathtaking and darkly funny.
The film also has Lorraine getting intimate — not with David — but with Delphine Lasalle (Sophia Boutella), a possible femme fatale who works for French intelligence. Lorraine allows Delphine to seduce her because the attractive brunette has information that may be useful. Significantly, these women cuddle up a few times after their initial sexual encounter.
Boasting a fantastic soundtrack of ’80s hits, some dirty double-crosses and a commanding performance by Theron, “Atomic Blonde” delivers visceral kick-ass action with tremendous panache.