We’ve gotten emails from some of you asking why we haven’t yet covered the trailer for the upcoming Charlize Theron action/spy film Atomic Blonde yet. Now that I’ve seen the trailer, I’m mad at myself for taking so long, as this film looks like it’s totally up my alley. To paraphrase a particularly colorful TMS commenter in a recent Things We Saw Today thread, I too was made to feel “funny in my pants” while watching this restricted trailer. I totally feel you.
Atomic Blonde is based on a 2012 graphic novel The Coldest City, by Antony Johnston (Codename Baboushka). In this Cold War-era espionage drama, which was intended to be the first in a series of graphic novels set during the Cold War, a spy needs to find a list of double agents who are being smuggled into the West.
According to Wikipedia, the film plot is a bit different:
The film takes place in Berlin, 1989, on the eve of the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the shifting of superpower alliances. Lorraine Broughton, a top-level spy for MI6, is dispatched to Berlin to take down a ruthless espionage ring that has just killed an undercover agent for reasons unknown. She is ordered to cooperate with Berlin station chief David Percival, and the two form an uneasy alliance, unleashing their full arsenal of skills in pursuing a threat that jeopardizes the West’s entire intelligence operation.
I’ve never read the graphic novel on which this is based, but this trailer has sucked me in. First, I’m always down for Charlize Theron taking on an action role. Second, female protagonist. I’m here for that. Third, this film looks beautiful, and I’m loving the cinematography and lighting already. Fourth, I love the dramedy tone. The moment when James McAvoy’s David Percival welcomes Lorraine to Berlin and offers to “help her with her bags” by popping open the trunk of their overturned car and letting them fall out so that he can get on with dragging a dead body is hilarious.
Then, of course, there’s the queerness. We see that Lorraine seems to have a romantic past with the male agent whose death is the catalyst for the story. Then we see her “connect” with a French operative (played by Star Trek Beyond‘s Sofia Boutella) in a really hot-looking scene. Boutella’s character doesn’t have a name on the film’s IMDb page, and she’s listed on the Wikipedia page as simply “a French operative in Berlin,” so it’s unlikely that the two have a relationship as such. However, despite the fact that having sex with this woman is clearly a means to more information, she seems to be enjoying the hell out of herself, and it seems like something she’s done before. It’s nice to see the protagonist we’re rooting for (and not a duplicitous villain) be a queer female.
Lastly, I love the fighting we see in this trailer. Often, in the interest of creating “kick-ass female characters,” we’re subjected to thin model-types accomplishing feats of strength that one might have to suspend their disbelief to accept. Now, Theron is obviously a model, but the fighting in this trailer is not only choreographed well, but also highlights what would be Lorraine’s strengths in a fight. There’s strength, but there’s also relentless speed. You see she tends to punch at the guys she’s fighting multiple times, trying not to give them a chance to recuperate or respond. Lorraine aims for specific targets (kidneys, knee caps) and uses her legs a lot. That, and we see her get punched in the face and fall. Several times. This is a woman whose every fight is hard won, and to me, the close-ups of her face where you can see her intense bruises say to me, “You should see the other guy.”
Oh, and there’s also her sitting naked in a bathtub full of ice, then using some of the ice cubes for a glass of vodka.
I’m not only inspired to see this movie, but to check out the original graphic novel! What do you think? Are you here for Atomic Blonde?
Atomic Blonde premiered yesterday at SXSW, and is set to arrive in theaters July 28th.
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