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Watch This Review

Movie Review

As she rises out of her bathtub full of water and ice, it's clear that Lorraine Broughton does not live an easy existence. Nearly every inch of her body is marred with purple bruises, cuts, welts and scars. But that's the life of a spy. Or at least, this spy.

It's the winter of 1989. And while you may remember that era as the time when the Berlin Wall finally came down, in that iconic Cold War city things are still pretty knotted and tense. At least in the espionage world. And Lorraine is right in the heart of it all.

She'd been sent to that infamous German city some days earlier to track down a document called "The List": a microfilm compilation of every clandestine NATO operative in the area. It had fallen into the grubby mitts of a B-grade Russian snoop who wanted to use it to financially better his circumstances, rather than hand it over to Mother Russia. It was Lorraine's assignment to find "The List" and, well, pry it out of said snoop's preferably cold, dead, grubby mitts.

Now, 10 days later, Lorraine has to cover her subsequently black-and-blue countenance enough to make her way past the public's eye and sit in a stuffy, stale, smoke-filled debriefing room. She has to face her MI6 superior and a gruff, no-nonsense CIA chief and recount her side of what happened in Berlin.

And how it all went wrong.

Positive Elements

On the surface, it could be said that Lorraine's efforts—and those of fellow British agent David Percival—are selfless and heroic, dedicated actions meant to protect many lives. However, no one in this brutal spy game is without messy ulterior motives, including our protagonist.

Spiritual Content

David spits a crude comment about the Virgin Mary.

Sexual Content

Lorraine is shown in various stages of undress. She's almost fully exposed on a couple of occasions (only her genitals are out of view) as she ministers to her heavily bruised body. Lorraine also has a lingering, graphic sexual encounter with another woman. Both are unclothed. Bare backsides and upper body nudity are seen as the women explicitly embrace and touch.

The other woman, Delphine, is a spy herself. We later see her dressed only in skimpy, revealing lingerie as she fights with a man who attacks her brutally, a disturbing moment of sexualized violence.

Lorraine picks up a pornographic magazine that features a partially clothed woman on its cover. David tosses out several sexually charged jokes.

Violent Content

Savagely realistic and bloody fights to the death are this graphic film's bread and, uh, batter. Lorraine takes on scores of heavily armed thugs, spies and police throughout the movie—often in intricately choreographed ballets of punches, knife stabs and takedowns.

People are shot and stabbed repeatedly. They receive wounds all over: in the body, in the face, and—more gruesomely—in the eyes (with splashes of blood painting windows, walls, stairs and floors). Throats are slashed. Necks and torsos are hacked at repeatedly in rapid, multi-blow attacks using everything from an ice pick to broken pieces of metal. (One man, for instance, fights on for several minutes with a set of keys dangling from a puncture wound in his cheek where they've been bloodily inserted.) We also see someone slowly drown while trapped underwater. A defenseless teen is beaten nearly to death by a skateboard as well.

We witness arms and legs being broken. We hear the snap of bones in these merciless fights. Men get hit and shot in the crotch, writhing about in pain. People are sent tumbling down staircases, thrown out of windows and hit by moving vehicles. And unlike some sanitized action movies, when victims get hit by heavy objects here, their skin is left lacerated and bleeding. These fierce battles go on and on, until wounded individuals finally lose so much blood that they succumb to death.

These painful poundings are repeatedly visited upon Lorraine and Delphine, too. We see both women manhandled, beaten and strangled by large men. In Lorraine's case she's often attacked by several men at a time (or a roomful, in one case). Her male assailants pull no punches and don't hesitate to throw her around, not to mention battering and stabbing at her with whatever is at hand.

Crude or Profane Language

About 35 f-words and five s-words are joined by two or three uses each of "h---," "d--n," "b--ch" and "b--tard." We also hear an extremely crude euphemism related to oral sex, as well as uses of the English crudities "b-ggered" and "b-llocks."

Drug and Alcohol Content

Lorraine, David and Delphine all smoke liberally. We see a number of other smokers on occasion, too. Lorraine also knocks down multiple glasses of vodka. David's constant swill of choice is Jack Daniel's. Berlin residents of all ages often seem to have some kind of cigarette, beer or booze at hand—including teens in the street.

Other Negative Elements

Betrayal abounds. Everyone here (from top government officials to small-time operators) lies and sometimes kills to protect themselves.


Lorraine Broughton is a British agent. But if that suggests to your cinematic sensibilities some sort of 007 with a feminist twist and a sturdy pair of high heels, well, you're barking up the wrong Aston Martin.

Based on a graphic novel called The Coldest City and helmed by former stunt man and John Wick co-director David Leitch, Atomic Blonde is absolutely nothing like that fantasy superspy guy we know so well—save, perhaps, for the fact that Lorraine beds down beautiful women, too (in full, bare-it-all detail).

No, there are no charm-laced maneuverings or delicate spycraft in this gal's playbook. Nope. Lorraine strides in, kills everyone, then retreats to soak her bare-and-battered body in a tub full of icy water while downing a liquid meal of chilled Stoli Vodka. In fact, Lorraine's icy, deadly efficiency makes Mr. Bond almost feel like a whimsical choirboy in comparison.

The result? Atomic Blonde is a slowly inching dirty iceberg of a film. It features a gritty, grinding spy story that's little more than MacGuffin filler between a bunch of hyper-stylized brutal beatdowns.

Granted, those pounding, blood-spewing scenes—involving guns, knives, knuckles, hoses, furniture, kitchenware, keychains, ice picks, stiletto heels and anything else that isn't nailed down—may well be the most realistic melee mayhem ever projected onscreen. But that brand of nakedly vicious and misogynistic realism also leaves viewers feeling as battered and bruised as actress Charlize Theron's character looks.

It sorta makes you wish there was a Bond or two in Atomic Blonde's highly stylized and choreographed spy action. If only to offer an occasional laugh and a few more moments of less-troubling content.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes



Readability Age Range



Charlize Theron as Lorraine Broughton; James McAvoy as David Percival; Eddie Marsan as Spyglass; John Goodman as Emmett Kurzfeld; Sofia Boutella as Delphine Lasalle; Toby Jones as Eric Gray


David Leitch ( )


Focus Features



Record Label



In Theaters

July 28, 2017

On Video

November 14, 2017

Year Published



Bob Hoose

Content Caution


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