Release Date: July 28, 2017
Cast: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Eddie Marsan
Director: David Leitch
Studio: Denver and Delilah Productions, Closed on Mondays Entertainment, 87Eleven
Distributor: Focus Features
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Atomic Blonde showed me that I will happily watch Charlize Theron traipse around in high heeled boots kicking Soviet ass to a boppin’ 80’s soundtrack any day of the goddamn week.
I loved this movie. It felt like a video game- stylized with neon lights, gritty violence, and enough cigarette smoke to kill the surgeon general. I want to go grab some peroxide and take up kickboxing.
Charlize Theron shimmers in this atmospheric action movie, but don’t try to delve beneath the film’s candy-apple exterior for a fulfilling plot.
SPOILERS START HERE
Atomic Blonde tells the story of the espionage around (but not touching) the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It’s a pretty cool premise – we’re peering behind the Iron Curtain while it falls, but our characters have nothing to do with its collapse.
Instead, Charlize Theron (Lorraine) is sent by MI-6 to retrieve a stolen list containing the names of every spy in the game playing for teams West and East Berlin. That information has been coded into a fancy watch, which was stolen from a CIA/MI-6 (not sure which) spy before he was killed by the Russians.
Cue Charlize Theron. Her mission is to rendezvous with James McAvoy (a hedonistic MI-6 agent living in East Berlin) and retrieve the list.
The story alternates between Charlize telling the suits from admin how the mission went down in a padded recording booth and watching the mission firsthand.
What we discover is that things are not as they seem. Charlize has been charged with a second mission – discover the identity of a double agent (Codename: Satchel) – and trust no one. When she arrives in Berlin, Russians pick her up from the airport and attempt to kill her, leading to a meet-cute with James McAvoy.
After tons of rounds of bugging each other (literally, electronically surveilling each other), Charlize hooks up (literally) with a French spy (Delphine) and the two independently discover that McAvoy appears to be double crossing them. Unbeknownst to them, he has already acquired the hard copy of the list from the Russians.
Although there’s a hard-copy of the list floating around, there’s also a human version – a German officer (Codename: Spyglass) who defected in return for amnesty. He memorized the entire list. Charlize finds this out later in the movie, and tries to keep Spyglass safe while crossing the border.
Unfortunately, her best-laid (and umbrella-laden; thanks to the trailer for spoiling that reveal) plans go awry and James McAvoy shoots Spyglass, and he eventually dies after 15 minutes of fistfights and gunfire later when Russians run Charlize’s car into the river.
Okay, after that fracas, Charlize figures out that James McAvoy is spying on her, James McAvoy kills Delphine, and Charlize ends up killing James McAvoy and taking the watch, leading us back to… the conference room with the administrative agency heads for the BIG reveal.
Turns out that Charlize is actually the double agent Satchel, not McAvoy like the audience is led to believe. McAvoy is working for himself (he dies after yelling that he ‘f*cking loves Berlin’), and Charlize is actually a triple agent working for the Russians, MI-6, and the CIA.
She’s also American.
So after Charlize kills her Russian comrades and gets the list back to the CIA, she rides off into the sunset, leaving the audience more confused than ever.
So now that we’ve been thoroughly spoiled, here are my questions:
1. Why would McAvoy try to kill Charlize by tipping off the Russians when she lands in Berlin? He has no motivation to kill a fellow agent who might be helpful in getting the list. He can kill her later if that’s what he wants! If Charlize is working with the Russians, why are they trying to kill her? They don’t know she’s a double agent until the very end!
2. Why does Charlize want to keep Spyglass alive if the list identifies her as a triple agent? Also, why does McAvoy (and the Russians) want him dead so badly? He’s valuable intelligence that all the players should be fighting to protect (except Charlize) for their own motivations.
3. WHY THE HELL DOES IT MATTER THAT CHARLIZE IS A TRIPLE AGENT? What purpose does that even serve? How does that factor in? What the actual f*ck is this movie?
4. Am I just horribly stupid? Because I left this movie super satisfied with all the visuals and action but confused as hell on the plot.
It’s like a bad Christopher Nolan movie. I wanted to be Incepted, but the deeper I go, the more confused I get. It’s like zooming in further and further on a threadbare blanket – there’s just not a whole helluva lot there and you’ll get lost in the [plot] holes.
Killer soundtrack though.
12 thoughts on “Atomic Blonde: We’ve Got Some Questions About the Ending”
I think the Russians were abducting her to talk to her and find out why she was there. She, as Satchel, didn’t tell them she was coming to town and they wanted to know why. The one who gets a key in his face even calls her crazy later and says they just want to have a conversation with her (it’s during the movie theater fight).
I like that idea, but then I also wonder how they knew about her coming to town in the first place because they were picking her up at the airport. If it was James McAvoy who tipped them off, then I question his motivations. If she didn’t fight the Russians, she could have been revealed as Satchel, but James McAvoy probably didn’t have motivation to uncover the double agent. If she died fighting the Russians, that doesn’t seem to get James McAvoy any closer to his goal of finding the list. Or Charlize tipped them off and then fought them to keep her cover? It’s strange any way I dice it.
Spot. Fucking. On.
I was confused as to why she didn’t kill Spyglass too. And why did he go with her? The only thing that makes sense is that he knew she was a triple agent. But if he knew that then the East Germans knew that too. So there’s that.
Movie would have worked better if they just went with Percival as Satchel instead of trying to get overly complex with things.
Killer soundtrack though.
It was revealed in one scene (when Spyglass’s family was safely arrived in the west and receiving condolences from Kurzfeld) that Spyglass is working for the CIA, so He knew all along that Lorraine is Satchel.
Why would McAvoy try to kill Charlize by tipping off the Russians when she lands in Berlin? He has no motivation to kill a fellow agent who might be helpful in getting the list. He can kill her later if that’s what he wants! If Charlize is working with the Russians, why are they trying to kill her? They don’t know she’s a double agent until the very end!
McAvoy didn’t tip off the Russians – he’s a lazy sloppy mess of an MI6 agent, and forgot to get to the airport on time. Charlize was picked up by the Russians because they wanted to know why she was in town without first informing them. When she attacks them in the car after the airport pick up, she’s trying to close up loose ends before word gets out she’s a triple agent. McAvoy is a blundering idiot who just happens to get there after the altercation in the vehicle with the Russians.
Why does Charlize want to keep Spyglass alive if the list identifies her as a triple agent? Also, why does McAvoy (and the Russians) want him dead so badly? He’s valuable intelligence that all the players should be fighting to protect (except Charlize) for their own motivations.
Charlize is first and foremost an asset for the CIA, and they are fully aware she is a triple agent. The reason she wants to keep Spyglass alive is because he can deliver the list to the “right hands” and this is ideal for the CIA, as they want to keep eyes on vital information. I don’t believe they would let her triple agent status fall into just anyone’s grasp after safely retrieving Spyglass on the other side of Berlin, but we don’t know what might have happened, as Spyglass dies before reaching his rendezvous point with Charlize.
WHY THE HELL DOES IT MATTER THAT CHARLIZE IS A TRIPLE AGENT? What purpose does that even serve? How does that factor in? What the actual f*ck is this movie?
Again, Charlize is considered to be first and foremost an asset for the American government, and I’m guessing they must have felt it necessary to employ her expertise as a spy by embedding her in the several different espionage groups she “worked for” in the film. It would make sense that having her operate so close to all the circulating information via direct interaction with the Russians and MI6 would provide the CIA with an advantage over Russia and England as the Cold War carried on.
Am I just horribly stupid? Because I left this movie super satisfied with all the visuals and action but confused as hell on the plot.
No, you’re not horribly stupid, it’s a confusing-as-hell plot, and it could have been simplified quite a bit. I’ll agree 100% on the visuals and action, though, it was an incredibly stylized film with an amazing heroine to guide us through the mess of stabbing, punching, and pew pews that took place.
THANK YOU! Also; If Spyglass has memorised the list he knows she’s a double or triple agent, so why does he trust Lorraine and meekly allow his family to be separated?
Spyglass is working for the CIA, so he knew exactly that Lorraine is Satchel.
I thought she wanted Spyglass alive because the Americans wanted him………
Because Spyglass is a CIA agent and possibly one of her team members.
Why she fight with the russians all the time since her first appearance in Berlin (airport) if for them she was an allied?
what I want to know is that if she was working for the CIA all along, how did Mi-6 not figure out that “hey, this chick we employed has a weird employment history”.
I thought all of this was because McAvoy was playing all the sides against each other because he’d gone rogue/mercenary and the CIA knew it and when MI6 sent her in to clean it all up/contain it, the CIA knew they had to activate her in order to keep MI6 from getting the list and blowing her cover. I think it might be confusing because the UK and US are supposed to be allies so why would the CIA be spying on the British? Because at the end of the day, there are loyalists and there are revolutionaries.