It’s November 1989, a couple weeks before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the body of a British secret service agent is fished out of the water. He had been run down by a KGB agent who stole the secret list of Clandestine Operatives the agent had hidden in his watch. If this list falls into the wrong hands, the Cold War could go on indefinitely. So the CIA and MI6 team up, sending agent Lorraine Broughton (Charles Theron) in to locate and retrieve the list. Her contact in Berlin is David Percival (James McAvoy), a deep cover British agent who has been undercover so long that he’s gone a bit feral. Berlin is in the middle of a revolution, and Broughton doesn’t know who she can truly trust. Can she rely on Percival? What about defecting scientist Spyglass (Eddie Marsan), or the seductive French operative Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella)? The film cuts back and forth between Lorraine’s mission and her debrief with the heads of the CIA (John Goodman) and MI6 (Toby Jones) afterwardst.
Atomic Blonde starts off with a slow burn, introducing the characters, and the political climate at the time. But then it quickly turns into an action-packed roller-coaster ride of an action-thriller. As Elizabeth gets deeper into her mission, things become more dangerous and people are constantly trying to kill her. Charlize Theron gives a standout performance in this physically demanding role. All of the fights and action sequences feel so raw and real. There is an incredibly-impressive long-shot fight sequence in the middle of the film that goes on for at least 10 minutes. It is filmed in such a way that it looks like one continuous shot that weaves from location to location along with the massive death and destruction. As the characters struggle to gather their breath near the end, so does the viewer. I could easily watch this one sequence over and over again!
The film really captures the look and feel of the era it is set in. Each scene seems to have its own color palette that accentuates the mood of that scene. When we first meet Elizabeth, she is mourning the death of a loved one, and everything is in blue tones. In another scene at a bar where there’s some seduction happening, everything is in red tones. The 4K UHD release’s Dolby Vision presentation really captures these single-color scenes exquisitely, allowing everything to remain crisp and detailed, but with each of the variations in tone visible. In another scene, the neon lights of Lorraine’s hotel room shine bright, but the glow remains distinctive and never bleeds into the surroundings. The 4K disc also provides increased detail in darker scenes as well. This release provides excellent, reference-quality picture!
The release’s audio presentation is equally impressive. The soundtrack is filled with some incredible 80s music which really adds to the atmosphere and experience of the film. Each song seems perfectly paired to what’s going on on screen. I especially enjoyed the use of German-lyric versions of some familiar songs. The volume of the music is a bit aggressive at times, but never to the point of being annoying or overwhelming. The immersive audio track also helps bring the viewer into the on-screen action. In one scene Elizabeth is having a vivid dream, and you feel like you are inside the experience as the sound bounces around the room. The audio track also provides clear dialogue and captures every thud and bone-cracking in the action sequences.
This release contains about 75 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes and extended fight sequences as well as an entertaining feature commentary from the director. The featurettes give a nice behind-the-scenes look at some of the incredible action sequences that appear in the film. All of the bonus material can be found on the Blu-ray disc. The commentary is the only supplemental material that is also available on the 4K disc.
The two discs come packed in a standard UHD keepcase along with a square-cut glossy slipcover with an embossed title. The case also contains UHD digital copy codes for both the theatrical cut and an extended director’s cut of the film. The Blu-ray release also contains a code for a bonus digital film (from a selection of 6 titles)—this was not included with the 4K copy I received for review.
4K Ultra HD:
- 2160p / Widescreen 2.40:1
- Dolby Vision
- Audio: English DTS:X, French 5.1 DTS Digital Surround, French (Canada) 5.1 DTS Digital Surround, Spanish 5.1 DTS Digital Surround, Portuguese 5.1 DTS Digital Surround
- Subtitles: English SDH, French, French (Canada), Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese
- 1080p / Widescreen 2.40:1
- Audio: English DTS:X, Spanish 5.1 DTS Digital Surround, French 5.1 DTS Digital Surround, English DVS (Descriptive Video Service)
- Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
- Digital Copy
The included Digital copy redeems in 4K in the 4K Ultra HD release, but only HD in the Blu-ray release. The redemption site defaults to Movies Anywhere.
For the UHD release, we suggest redeeming the code directly in Vudu as this will add the title to both your Movies Anywhere and UltraViolet accounts, and will propagate in 4K to iTunes via Movies Anywhere.
For the Blu-ray release, we suggest redeeming the digital copy directly in iTunes as that will give you a 4K digital copy in iTunes and propagate the HD digital copy to your other connected services via Movies Anywhere.
- Bonus Digital Movie
Blu-ray Release ONLY, Not included with the 4K Ultra HD Release – Additional bonus digital movie redeemable at www.upherewards.com. The list of available titles currently includes Suffragette, You, Me and Dupree, Dragon Nest: Warriors’ Dawn, Far and Away, Eliminators, The Man With The Iron Fists 2. This list is expected to change to 6 new titles on 11/18/17.
Digital HD (for redemption deadline, see NBCUcodes.com):
The only bonus feature that also appears on the 4K disc is the audio commentary, the rest only appear on the Blu-ray disc. All features offer subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes (7:23)
Collection of six extended/deleted scenes. Play All, or select from “Russian Driver”, “Hidden Stash”, “Nice To meet You”, “Not Afraid of Love”, “Broughton’s Promotion” and “Watch For Sale”.
- Welcome to Berlin (4:33)
The cast and filmmakers talk about the cold war/spy setting of the film, and recreating 1989 Berlin in Budapest. Includes behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with co-producer/author of “The Coldest City” Anthony Johnston, director David Leitch, production designer David Scheunemann, executive producer Nick Meyer, executive producer/unit production manager Ethan Smith, producer Kelly McCormick, and stars James McAvoy (“David Percival”), James Faulkner (“Chief ‘C'”), Bill Skarsgård (“Merkel”), Sofia Boutella (“Delphine Lasalle”), and Charlize Theron (“Lorraine Broughton”)/producer.
- Blondes Have More Gun (7:01)
The cast and filmmakers talk about the character of Lorraine Broughton, preparing/training for the intense action sequences, and filming the epic long take shot. Includes lots of behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with director David Leitch, stunt coordinator Sam Hargrave (“James Gasciogne”), executive producer/unit production manager Ethan Smith, producer Eric Gitter, precision driver Andrew Comrie-Picard, and actors Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, and Sofia Boutella.
- Spymaster (4:18)
The cast and filmmakers talk about working with director David Leitch, his fresh new take on the Cold War spy drama, and adding action to the original graphic novel story. Includes interviews with director David Leitch, producers Eric Gitter and Kelly McCormick, executive producer/unit production manager Ethan Smith, co-producer/author of “The Coldest City” Anthony Johnston, star/producer Charlize Theron, and actors James McAvoy, Sofia Boutella, Eddie Marsan (“Spyglass”), John Goodman (“Emmett Kurzfeld”), Sam Hargrave, and James Faulkner.
- Anatomy of a Fight Scene (7:52)
Director David Leitch breaks down the film’s amazing long-take fight scene in the stairwell. The completed sequence plays alongside behind-the-scenes footage and interview footage with the director.
- Story in Motion: Agent Broughton
Two motion storyboard sequences with option commentary by director David Leach. Select from:
- Agent Broughton (2:16)
The introduction of Agent Broughton.
- The Chase (1:38)
The Gascoigne chase sequence that opens the film.
- Agent Broughton (2:16)
- Feature Commentary with Director David Leitch and Editor Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir (1:54:44)
The director and editor provide an entertaining and informative commentary. They talk about how the film evolved,note where effects were used, discuss the music, the cast, and more. They provide a lot of interesting behind-the-scenes stories and anecdotes.
Atomic Blonde is a highly-entertaining, adrenaline-pumping spy film that really captures the look and feel of 1980s Berlin. The story twists and turns and keeps you guessing as to what is going to happen next. There are some really impressive action sequences, including an amazing ten minute scene that looks like it is a single camera shot. Universal’s 4K Ultra HD presentation looks and sounds superb, and includes an excellent selection of bonus material. This release comes highly recommended.