In the weeks leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall, MI6 operative Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) arrives in the snow-covered city to track down a confidential list of undercover agents before it falls into the wrong hands. Aiding Lorraine in her assignment is eccentric local MI6 agent David Percival (James McAvoy) – although it isn't long before she starts to suspect 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 Oscar-winning actress 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 style preferred by director David (John Wick) Leitch, it's evident that Theron is taking (and dishing out) most of the lumps herself, rather than having stunt doubles do all the heavy lifting.
On the evidence of this film, Hollywood finally has its very own female James Bond. And we'd be very happy for Broughton's bigscreen adventures to continue for however long Theron wants them to.
Picture: Shot digitally and subjected to plenty of post-production colour grading, Atomic Blonde's 2.40:1 palette veers from cool blue exteriors with washed-out blacks to richly-saturated interiors that fill the screen with bold primaries (Chapter 10's nightclub encounter being a prime example of the latter). If the resulting Full HD encode can look a little inconsistent at times when it comes to black levels and detailing, it's undoubtedly true to the source material and is free from encoding-related issues.
Picture rating: 4/5
Audio: Atomic Blonde on BD carries a DTS:X soundtrack that serves up a cornucopia of aggressive and enveloping surround effects (but never straying into unnatural territory), 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-blooded delivery of numerous iconic 1980s pop tunes.
Audio rating: 4/5
Extras: Accompanying the film are six deleted/extended scenes, a commentary by director David Leitch and editor Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir, two sets of animated storyboards (with optional commentary) and four behind-the-scenes featurettes. Of these, the clear highlight is undoubtedly Anatomy of a Fight Scene (eight minutes). Presented in a picture-in-picture style, it offers a fascinating insight into the shooting of the film's unforgettable stairway scrap.
Extras rating: 2.5/5
We say: I spy with my little eye an enjoyable Cold War action-thriller handled very well on Blu-ray.
Atomic Blonde, Universal Pictures, All-region BD, £25
HCC VERDICT: 4/5
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