The trailers for this looked so cool. We haven’t had that many female-led action films so it’s nice to see one now, more so one with Charlize Theron. I’m a big fan of hers and I am excited to see this new side of her.
Synopsis: The crown jewel of Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service, Agent Lorraine Broughton is equal parts spycraft, sensuality and savagery, willing to deploy any of her skills to stay alive on her impossible mission. Sent alone into Berlin to deliver a priceless dossier out of the destabilized city, she partners with embedded station chief David Percival to navigate her way through the deadliest game of spies. (Universal Pictures)
Starring: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, and John Goodman
Writer: Kurt Johnstad
Director: David Leitch
Rating: 18A (Canada)/R (United States)
Running Time: 115mins
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Based on the trailers, it’s easy to make comparisons to the John Wick series. While this may be a fair comparison, obvious aside, this is a different film with probably the biggest difference being more of a story between the action. The story here took place around the time of the Cold War and followed British Agent Lorraine Broughton (Theron) as she was sent on a mission to Berlin to retrieve precious intelligence.
The film had a great atmosphere and sense of authenticity throughout with its inventive costumes and soundtrack along with its dark tone and setting. Both of these fit nicely alongside the characters found within the criminal underbelly of 1980s Berlin. Her mission would be easier said than done and we learn about it as a flashback, told by a beat-up Broughton (you can draw your own conclusions from this) in a debriefing with her MI6 and CIA superiors (Goodman and Toby Jones).
It was an uneasy time so Broughton wasn’t alone as she was assisted by station chief David Percival (McAvoy). Again, being in the midst of the Cold War, it wasn’t clear who to trust so her relationship with Percival only went so far. Percival was mostly a sleazy, unhinged character which could very well have been an act as he looked smarter than he was leading on. He had a much different way of doing things which often had them at odds with one another but they were still fun to watch together.
While Broughton and Percival were fun together, the film also let each character do their own thing. Each were fun to watch individually but the best was Broughton and her investigation. She was a spy so her use of 1980s style espionage was kind of cool and she also used the fact that she was a woman to her advantage. Over time, she would get into a series of precarious situations where she would have to use her particular set of skills to survive.
The action scenes were not quite on the level of the John Wick series (the first film was coincidentally directed by Leitch) but were still exciting to watch and very violent. Beit hand to hand combat, gun battles, and car chases, the original choreography, the music, and the camera work all worked together beautifully to really bring them to life. The best of these was a seven-eight minute sequence in a staircase all done in one shot.
In terms of negatives, based on how the story was told with cuts between the past and the present, created some opportunities for dark humour while occasionally hurting the momentum in the main narrative. The film was engaging for the most part, however, as the plot became a little too convoluted as it approached its resolution. Of course it was set up for possible future films but this leap wasn’t the most seamless.
This film would definitely not have worked if it wasn’t for Theron and her performance as Broughton. She was the best part of the film as the cold, calculated secret agent. She was very compelling to watch while showing a decent amount of range through the serious side to her character while allowing the room for some dark humour and vulnerability. It seemed like there was a lot more to her character so it would have been nice to see more (but we might in more films). McAvoy was good too as Percival, serving as a counterbalance to Theron’s Broughton. He and Theron had great chemistry so it would also have been nice to see more of their relationship.
Overall, this was a good action film with exciting, beautifully-constructed action sequences, a very cool Cold War setting, and an excellent lead performance by Charlize Theron but is let down by its convoluted ending.