1 Star – Empty
The Cold War that permeated much of the late 20th century was sometimes viewed as a struggle between good and evil, with “good” being claimed by both sides. From the perspective of the western world, everything in the communist-dominated eastern block was amoral and self-centered, and needed to be obliterated by any means possible.
Atomic Blonde follows the life of one of the western world’s spies – or double agents – depending on where you are in the story. The most sobering and troubling realization though, is that both the west and east descended into an ethic where the ends justified the means. As long as your side won, then any means to get there was okay, including gross immorality, lying, cheating, stealing, or murder. In such a place one wonders what values were trying to be protected!
Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron), who wears a blonde wig is a well-training assassin with ice in her veins. She will murder anyone for any reason and will sleep with anyone of any sex to get what she wants. If you don’t like gratuitous violence or kinky sex, then stay away from this film! Broughton is living in Berlin during the last gasp of the fall of the Soviet Union and finds herself back and forth through the wall separating these two political worlds.
Spies on both sides report to people who have long ago lost their sense of humor along with their compassion or sense of decency. Some will try to justify this behavior as a “necessary evil” in a world gone mad, but the story raises enough questions about the morality of geo-politics and war to fuel a lifetime of debates. Broughton is interrogated throughout the film by her handlers, Eric Gray (Toby Jones) and his boss, Emmett Kurzfeld (John Goodman). No one trusts anyone on their own side, let alone the other.
With the eminent collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the potential collapse of the Soviet state itself, there is a desire to get selective people out of East Berlin before the communists either kill them or haul them away to Russia. In the murky world of spies, Broughton both cooperates with, and at the same time, distrusts two other spies, David Percival (James McAvoy) and Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella). Who should I sleep with? Or, who should I kill? Maybe both!
There is no question that evil exists in this world and that spiritual warfare is always at hand. What Atomic Blonde represents, though, is that evil can only be adequately confronted with equal evil, and anything else is just sentimental fluff. This story is a depressing and degrading representation of what could have been a reality in the spy world, but it feels like you have just witnessed a modern version of Dante’s Inferno. Welcome to the world of ultimate damnation.
- Do you believe that being a spy requires a person to leave normal morality behind? What all is fair in such a situation? Why do you answer as you do?
- When Broughton is willing to be whoever she needs what do you think this did to her sense of self?
- How accurate of an understanding do you think we have of the motives and morality of nations that we consider an enemy? Explain why you answer as you do?