When John Wick came out in 2014, it surprised a lot of people with it’s intense and gritty gunplay. It also featured some truly brutal fight scenes. Audiences responded enthusiastically to both of these aspects of John Wick, so it is no surprise that other films have chosen to deploy similar styles. One such film is Atomic Blonde. In fact, it has been lovingly called “Lady Wick” in some circles, and today, we are taking a look at the 4K UHD release.
Set in 1989 Berlin, right before the fall of The Wall, Atomic Blonde follows the story of MI6 Agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron)t, a secret agent who’s mission is to hunt down a list before it’s contents are released, outing agency operatives and putting lives at risk.
Lorraine arrives in Berlin and meets up with David Percival (played by the always awesome James McAvoy), her contact. However, she is pretty much immediately exposed and is constantly on the defensive while trying to find her asset and missing list. It isn’t long before she starts suspecting Percival of being more involved than he lets on.
We learn all this from Lorraine herself as she is debriefed by her handler, which makes for some interesting narration and puts us in her head at various points in the story. I’ll go ahead and say now that her handler is none other than one of my personal favorites Toby Jones, who kicks ass in everything he does. Also present in these debriefings is a US CIA agent played by John Goodman. Yea, this movie has a hell of a cast.
So what makes this movie stand out from the plethora of spy flicks? Well as mentioned above, it is dripping with style in almost every scene. From the perfect music selection to it’s use of neon colors to it’s brutal and damaging fight scenes (literally, there are more grunts and gasps in this movie than you normally see, which portrays a sense of realism).
But this film is more than it’s style. Charlize Theron might just be more of a badass in this film than she was as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road, which says a lot. Of course she uses her feminine prowess to her advantage, but she is not just a woman using her looks to get what she needs in this film at all. In the first scene where we see her, she is taking an ice bath, covered in wounds from what must have been one hell of a fight, which sets up her character as a fighter. Then, throughout the film, she gets in some truly intense fight scenes that leave her bloodied and bruised, but she keeps at it without any whimpering or breaks. Hollywood, if you’re listening, we’d like more badass heroines like Lorraine, please.
Visually speaking, this movie is quite exciting. The neon color palette really pops compared to the drab grays of an industrial looking 80s Berlin. Throughout the film, a great many scenes stood out on my mind as being near breathtaking; not necessarily from the image quality in terms of pixels on screen, but as art. John Wick did this for me too, so once again we get a similarity there.
When we dive in deeper and look at pixels on screen, this movie still impresses me. It isn’t a true 4K transfer, as it was shot digitally and upscaled from 2K, but to be honest, unless you are looking for differences you most likely won’t stumble across them. The visuals in this film are exciting and UHD (especially with HDR) makes them pop off the screen wonderfully.
Swapping over to the audio now, the first thing that you’ll notice is a lack of Dolby Atmos. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been spoiled by Lionsgate’s releases lately, but I am quickly becoming a fan of the format. However, this disc does have DTS:X 7.1, which is really damn good as well. And boy does this track shine.
Music is a big part of Atomic Blonde, with a lot of really satisfying mixes and remasters of late 80s music, including more than a couple songs that you likely will have forgotten until now. Now add on top of this some really awesome gunplay and the ambient effects of a brutal fight, and you’ve got one of the most exciting scenes in recent cinema. Make sure to get some friends over to watch this one, it’s that good.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes
- Welcome to Berlin – Behind the scenes featurette discussing the city’s role in the film.
- Blondes Have More Gun – A look at Charlize Theron’s transformation into Lorraine Broughton
- Spymaster – Cast and crew talk about Director David Leitch and the spy genre as a whole
- Anatomy of a Fight Scene – David Leitch breaks down one of the film’s most brutal fight scenes. This is an absolute must watch, in my opinion.
- Story in Motion: Agent Brougton – Storyboards for Agent Broughton
- Story in Motion: The Chase – Another storyboard short.
- Feature Commentary with Director and Editor
Atomic Blonde Final Thoughts:
Atomic Blonde is more than just a “Lady Wick” but that just might be the best way to start describing the movie. There’s intense and satisfying fighting, espionage, a stellar cast, and one hell of a series of twists and turns. This is a safe blind buy and looks stellar on your 4K panel.
This film is out now and can be purchased from Amazon or other movie retailers.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.