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Film / Atomic Blonde

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Atomic Blonde is a 2017 action/spy thriller film starring Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Sofia Boutella, Toby Jones, Bill Skarsgård, Eddie Marsan, John Goodman and Til Schweiger, based on the 2012 graphic novel The Coldest City by Antony Johnston. It is the first solo directorial effort from David Leitch, one of the co-directors of John Wick.

The story is set in early November 1989 in Berlin, on the eve of the collapse of both the Wall and the Iron Curtain towards the end of the Cold War. Top MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Theron) is dispatched to the city to take down an espionage ring that has just killed an undercover agent, whom she had a romantic relationship with unbeknownst to her superiors.

Lorraine is ordered to cooperate with eccentric Berlin station chief David Percival (McAvoy). The two then form a shaky alliance and violently pursue a dangerous threat to the West's entire intelligence operation.

Previews: Official Trailer.

A sequel is in development, to be produced by Netflix.

Atomic Blonde contains examples of the following tropes:

  • The '80s: The film takes place in 1989, just one week prior to the collapse of the Berlin Wall. The film makes ample stylistic use of the setting through the setting, fashions, music, civil unrest and Cold War tensions of the era.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Lorraine herself. In the original graphic novel, she is the KGB double agent inside MI-6. In the film, she's a triple agent, secretly working for the Americans all along. Although, this being the Cold War, it's hard to call any of the sides "heroic"...
  • Adaptation Name Change: The KGB double agent that everybody is trying to find is codenamed STACHELnote  in the graphic novel. In the movie, it's SATCHEL.
  • Adaptation Title Change: Atomic Blonde is based on the graphic novel The Coldest City.
  • All for Nothing: As the film proceeds, the characters come to the realization that the entire Cold War was more or less all for nothing, and their place in the world is rapidly disappearing. In particular, Percival realizing this drove him to his Face–Heel Turn. Driven home by how Lorraine's mission ends: she gets at least two total innocents and a whole mess of bad guys killed in the name of helping the U.S. swindle their own allies out of some information that's going to be completely irrelevant in mere days.
  • And This Is for...: Percival invokes this when he kills Bakhtin, citing Gascoine's murder.
  • Arc Symbol: The state of the Berlin Wall and the general civil unrest in Berlin is shown throughout the film to underscore the rising dramatic tension of the plot, with the Wall finally coming down just as Lorraine realizes her betrayal by Percival, Delphine is murdered, and Lorraine finally puts Percival down for good.
  • Artistic License – History: Lorraine is shown at arriving in Berlin on a Pan Am jet at Tempelhof airport. While Pan Am had used Tempelhof until the mid-1970s, in 1989 they used the much-less picturesque Tegel airport.
  • Auction: Once Bakhtin got his hands on the List by the end of the opening scene, he went rogue, planning on selling the list to the highest bidder. Both sides of the wall, not wanting each other to get it, send in agents to retrieve it. In retrospect, Bakhtin may have been kind of an idiot ...
  • Bathtub Scene: There are a few scenes of Lorraine bathing in ice. However, it's not played for fanservice; rather, it's done to help treat and show off the bruises and injuries she's collected along the course of the movie.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: When we see Aleksandr Bremovytch, the Russian spymaster and chief Soviet enforcer of East Berlin, he is clearly one of the antagonists. The other was KGB hatchetman Bakhtin, whose stealing of the list and going rogue kicks off the plot, looks to be the other, but he gets killed by David Percival who replaces him as the primary antagonist of the film.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: There may be no heroes in the Cold War spy game, but there is a villain. Bremovych is established as a brutal tyrant in his first few minutes of screentime when he beats a partygoer to death with his own skateboard for partying in a manner that wasn't approved by the regime, and the fact that his regime approves such behavior explains why so many people are trying to escape to the morally-gray regimes represented by the other characters.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Downplayed examples: the spies have a tendency to mortally wound their opponents and have brief conversations with them before finishing them up, rather than just skipping to the coup de grâce. Considering the realistic themes of the movie, it's an honest surprise it never backfires on them.
  • Book Ends: The film begins and ends with the killing of an agent.
  • Boom, Headshot!: When Lorraine does get her hands on a gun she dispatches many of foes this way.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In the beginning when Lorraine is at the debriefing, she mutters "cocksucker" when Kurzfeld enters the room. At the very end when she joins him on the plane after it's revealed she was CIA all along, Kurzfeld goes "Cocksucker? Really?" Lorraine smirks and says it was at least convincing.
    • When briefed on her mission, C tells her that if she kills Satchel she'll get tea with the queen; if she fails she'll hang. At the end of the interrogation, having successfully framed Percival, she smugly asks what to wear to her tea date with the queen.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Percival is a hard-drinking, rock and rave-loving eccentric, yet still a master spy, manipulator, and information gatherer.
  • Bury Your Gays: Delphine, who enters a same-sex relationship with Lorraine, is brutally choked to death by Percival in the last act. The bisexual Lorraine, however, survives.
  • Car Fu: The movie opens with Gascoigne being run over by a car, before being killed via headshot. Later Lorraine runs over a KGB agent when he proves to be overly persistent.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Percival's cast. The audience sees him take it off without a problem, though he always wears it around Lorraine. When she investigates his apartment, it turns out that he planted a bug in it.
  • Checkpoint Charlie: The film takes place just before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and involves a lot of maneuvering in between West and East Germany. While driving Lorraine to her hotel, Percival points out the actual Checkpoint Charlie.
  • Choke Holds: A few, because if you want to talk to people you need to get them somewhere quiet first. All but one are nonlethal air chokes. The exception is a fatal garroting.
  • City of Spies: It's set in Cold War Berlin. What did you expect?
  • Combat Breakdown: As the absurdly long hotel fight progresses, all the combatants have a hard time staying conscious, much less in any position to fight. At one point Lorraine and a KGB agent are just sagging against walls opposite each other, gasping for breath and half-heartedly swiping at the air between them
  • Combat Pragmatist: All of the spies. The movie starts with a KGB agent running over Gascoigne with a car, and it goes up from there.
  • Crapsack World: Before the wall came down, East Berlin was a pretty fucked up place in regards to no tolerance for simple entertainment that wasn't dictated by the government, and the movie makes sure to show you this in spades.
  • Dark Reprise: A very sorrowful cover of "99 Luftballoons" (an otherwise very upbeat 80s pop song) by Kaleida plays when Lorraine discovers Delphine's body. The original song itself is used earlier, when Bremovych beats one of Percival's punk comrades to death with his own skateboard, for full Soundtrack Dissonance effect (outside the lyrics).
  • Diegetic Switch: A lot of the music that plays in the movie is actually a part of the background. We also get a visual version when we get a Dutch Angle on Percival's meeting with the Russians, which turns out to have been Delphine's point of view, taking photos of the meeting.
  • Determinator:
    • The mustached KGB agent during the hallway fight. He manages to keep going for an incredibly long amount of time given Lorraine gut-shot him at the start of it, during which Lorraine punches him in the throat and kicks him down the stairs and only goes down when the blood loss finally gets to him.
    • There's also a recurring blonde-haired KGB agent who takes an insane amount of punishment, right down to being stabbed in the throat, and still manages to follow Lorraine and Spyglass outside, throw himself onto the hood of their vehicle, and shoot at them through the windshield. It takes being shot several more times and then run over to finish him off.
  • Double Agent: One codenamed "Satchel" has being causing a lot of problems for MI6. It's built up to be Percival, but it's actually Lorraine.
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent:
    • Satchel is a CIA agent pretending to be a Russian agent pretending to be an MI-6 agent.
    • Subverted with Percival. He's shown to be working with the Russians, but by the end it's made clear that he realized the Cold War wouldn't last much longer after the Berlin wall fell and wanted a payday before the end. The list also revealed to him the Americans had been selling out British agents to the Russians through Lorraine, so he had little compunction about keeping Spyglass from them or trying to kill Lorraine.
  • The Dragon: The Nigh-Invulnerable henchman with bleached hair (called "The Soldier" in the credits) is this to Bremovych, complete with a brutal one-on-one fight with Lorraine all done in one take.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: He steals a Volkspolizei officer's coat and hat in the beginning, and keeps the coat. He gets a version with an ushanka later on.
  • Drink-Based Characterization: Lorraine drinks Stoli vodka on the rocks like it was water, fitting her cold no-fuss demeanor. The more wild Percival swigs Jack Daniels whiskey out of the bottle.
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous: Delphine is strangled to death in nothing but lingerie.
  • Duel of Seduction: Delphine and Lorraine have one of these
  • Dying Speech: Downplayed. Both Gascoine and David Percival have time to talk to their assailants before being put down.
  • End of an Age: Set during the very last days of the Cold War.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Bremovych beats a partygoer to death with his own skateboard in his first few minutes of screentime, thus establishing why the audience should accept him and his regime as villains even compared to the amoral bastards who make up the rest of the cast.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Percival is a rogue operative who has gone native, but he's still loyal enough to the United Kingdom to be disgusted by Lorraine once he learns she's Satchel, and plots to get rid of her. He also shoots Spyglass out of concern of what she'd do with him.
    • Similarly, he might be rogue, but Percival was a good friend of James Gascoigne. He kills Bakhtin as soon as he can to avenge his friend.
    • For her part, Lorraine is an amoral CIA agent who sells MI6 agents out to the Soviets just so the Americans can get a leg up on their supposed allies, but she's still clearly disturbed by her failure to save Spyglass, and Percival's killing of Delphine.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Spyglass is only ever referred to as such.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: David Percival is introduced (to Lorraine, not the audience) with a boyish, medium-length haircut in his MI6 file photo. When she meets him in Berlin, he's got a buzzcut and a beard.
  • Eyes Never Lie: Delphine tells Lorraine that she can tell in her eyes when she's telling the truth. Lorraine responds that she'll need to fix that.
  • Fan Disservice: Charlize Theron taking a bath would be very pleasant to watch if she wasn't taking a bath in ice water in order to treat extensive bruises and injuries. It doesn't get much better as she's standing around naked afterward, since she's standing in front of a mirror to check out her black eye.
  • Femme Fatale Spy: Both Delphine and Lorraine qualify. Delphine seduces Lorraine for information, and Lorraine indulges her to use her for information in return.
  • Foil: Percival and Lorraine for each other. He's a station chief, she's an agent dispatched around the world. He's more attuned to information collection and evasion while she's a better fighter. He dresses in haphazard layers in neutral colors, she's decked out in modern fashion with a black and white motif. He drinks Jack Daniels, she drinks Stoli. He's a Rogue Agent who's gone native out of disgust with the Cold War, she's a Double Reverse Quadruple Agent extremely loyal to the United States.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Several times, the KGB agents that Lorraine fights express confusion at her actions. This turns out to be because they think she's one of them and don't understand why she's fighting them. As well as her preferred drink being Stoli vodka.
    • Lorraine softly calling Kurzfeld a 'cocksucker'. The use of a typically American curseword is later revealed to be her idea of an inside joke between her and Kurzfeld as she is in fact an American.
    • Lorraine calling a number on the newspaper Kurzfeld gives her and being told a seeming one sentence non-sequitur, "Satchel has been compromised", hints at her identity as Satchel, her actually being a triple agent for the US, and why Spyglass, who gained this knowledge by memorizing the list, still trusts her despite being on the run from the KGB.
    • Lorriane fighting so hard to protect Spyglass, despite being Satchel, also hints that she's actually a triple agent for the Americans, who were shown to be set to take custody of Spyglass and his entire family, rather than a double agent for the Russians.
    • One of Lorraine's superiors refers to Satchel as a "black eye", and it's noted early in the debriefing that one of the many bruises Lorraine received is a black eye. A subtle reveal that Lorraine is Satchel.
    • Lorraine, despite being an MI6 agent, chiefly uses the Makarov PM (the standard sidearm of the KGB and USSR) during her mission. While this can be explained by ammo availability where she's operating and increased deniability when she's forced to ditch the weapon, it's also a clue that she's the furthest thing from the Walther-PPK-wielding James Bond and not actually a British super spy, but an agent for another country.
    • Lorraine arrives in Berlin from London on a Pan Am jet at Tempelhof airport. An American carrier, at an airport within the American sector (though landing at Tempelhof is an anachronism, as Pan Am used Tegel airport—in the French sector—exclusively since 1975.)
  • Frame-Up: Lorraine explains to her bosses that Percival was trying to frame her as Satchel during her debriefing. Subverted when it's revealed Lorraine is Satchel, and she actually framed him.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: Zig-zagged. Lorraine is Satchel, but she's a triple agent working for the CIA, rather than a double agent working for the KGB. She frames Percival for being Satchel, which he isn't, but he is a traitor himself and a cold-blooded murderer, so nobody misses him.
  • Gadget Watches: Downplayed. The only gadget in the MacGuffin watches are a microfilm canister with the list of agents in Berlin and an engraved address Lorriane uses to locate her informant in the East.
  • Gambit Pileup: Everyone in Berlin. MI6, the KGB, and French intelligence are all after the List. Bakhtin and Percival are both out to get it for personal gain. And the CIA is out to steal it from all parties.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Percival's realization that, seemingly against all odds, the Cold War was going to end peacefully drove him to renounce any and all national loyalties and simply side with whoever pays the most.
  • Going Native: The heads of MI6 in the beginning describe Percival as a deep cover agent who has done this (among the punk communities on both sides of the Berlin Wall). In his own words, he "fucking loves Berlin."
  • Graceful Loser: Percival is not that cut up about being outwitted and killed, to the point of saying "Well played" as his last words.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: A running point of the film is that there are no heroes in the spy game of the Cold War, just people of varying shades of ruthlessness.
    Percival, right before being shot by Lorraine: Who won, and what was the fucking game anyway? To win, first you have to know whose side you're on. And in our line our work that's right up there with black holes and to be or not to be. You fight the good fight and one way you wake and realize all you were was Satan's little helper.
  • Groin Attack: During the apartment fight against East German cops, Lorraine uses a fire hose like a whip. At one point, while she's snared the neck of one cop with the hose, she also hits him in the "family jewels" with it.
  • Gun Fu: Some of the John Wick heritage shines through when Lorraine gets her hands on a handgun.
  • Hidden Wire: Being a spy thriller, the planted bug and worn wire are naturally parts of spy fieldcraft, even if they do look dated by modern standards. So, they're on Percival and Lorraine, natch. The former is so good at it he's able to hide one on Lorraine's coat without her noticing.
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: Merkel is this to Lorraine as her East-Berlin contact, arranging fake passports and crowds to shield her from snipers with a single whistle. He later finds and smuggles Lorraine out of East-Berlin, and during the end smuggles a gun into a bucket for Lorraine to use against the Russians and after she's done goes to work in disguise as hotel staff to dispose of the bodies.
  • Idiot Ball: Delphine calls up Percival for seemingly no reason other than to tell him she's on to him and that she has evidence of him cooperating with the Russians. Unsurprisingly, he kills her.
  • Improvised Weapon:
    • Lorraine is a skilled fighter, but she's still physically weaker than most of her opponents, so she makes extensive use of what's at hand. This includes, among other things, a freezer door, a corkscrew, a fire hose, a turntable, keys, a ladder, an electric stove, her heels and a toilet tank lid as weapons against various opponents.
    • Percival kills Bakhtin with an ice pick he had hidden in his cast. He says "That was for James, you fucking prick!" before he takes the List for himself.
  • Instant Death Bullet:
    • Averted: both Spyglass and a KGB agent are shot in the gut, and they survive long enough to run from their attackers and give Lorraine a hell of a fight, respectively. Likewise, Percival survives long enough to have a Final Speech/Kirk Summation before being finished off.
    • The Mustached KGB agent in the stairway fight is shot right away in the chest, but manages to last for a long time and puts up a good fight against Lorraine, despite bleeding profusely. Meanwhile the blonde KGB agent manages to hinder her and Spyglass's escape by jumping onto the hood of their car, in spite of being stabbed in the neck.
    • Played straight in the final gun battle. Though the guy getting head-shot probably wouldn't have a chance either way.
  • Ironic Echo: The phrase "It is a double pleasure to deceive the deceiver." several times.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery:
    • Lorraine sports some top notch 80's fashion throughout the film and most of her fight scenes occur while she's in full getup.
    • Lorraine does comment that she gets annoyed that she has to get into brutal fights wearing high class fashion. While being interrogated and recounting her fight with the police in the apartment she drily remarks.
      Lorraine: If I knew Percival was going to call the police I would have worn a different outfit.
  • Kill the Cutie: Delphine and Spyglass are by far the most innocent and endearing characters in the film. They're the only good guys to bite it.
  • Kiss of Distraction: Lorraine uses this to disarm Delphine in the club's backroom.
  • Knowledge Broker:
    • When he's first introduced on-screen, we find Percival has gotten comfy in East Berlin trading Western goods (including Jack Daniels) to locals in exchange for information.
    • The Watchmaker is a black market information dealer who both sides of the Cold War rely on.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Lorraine has longish hair, wearing nice dresses much of the time and has an elegant grace (at least when not brutally fighting men). She's revealed to be bisexual, having been involved with French agent Delphine. The latter was even more feminine, with long hair, a demure manner and pretty revealing clothing.
  • The Lost Lenore: The dead Agent Gascoine was once Lorraine's lover, and she even has a picture of the two of them in her London flat. At least, that's how it's set up. Since she's a Double Reverse Quadruple Agent, she probably would have had to kill him to keep her identity out of MI-6's hands if the Russians hadn't. Gascoine even potentially alludes to this at the beginning of the film, saying he'd been expecting to be killed by "the best".
  • MacGuffin: The List; a microfilm tape contained within a swiss watch that has the names of every active clandestine officer and all their shady deals.
  • Meaningful Background Event: As both sides of the Cold War are plotting and scheming about how to acquire The List, Berliners are shown on TV actively ending the Cold War on their own.
  • Motive Rant:
    • Percival gives a brief one to the Fourth Wall and explains why he's gone native before getting shot down.
      Percival: So what have I learned after all this time? After all the sleepless nights? Lying to friends, lovers, myself. Playing this crooked game in this crooked town filled with backstabbers and four-faced liars. I'll tell you what I've learned, one thing and one thing only: I fucking love Berlin!
    • Satchel / Lorraine explains why they decided to be a double agent to Bremovytch before finishing him off.
      Satchel: Let's get one thing straight: I wasn't working for you. You were working for me. Every piece of bad intelligence I gave you was another rip in the iron curtain. And every piece of intelligence you gave me? Another bullet in my fucking gun.
  • More Deadly Than the Male: Deconstructed. Lorraine is one truly badass lady who doesn't lose a single fight, all of which are against men, but that doesn't mean it's easy for her. Lorraine is hardly waifish, but most of her opponents are taller and stronger than she is and any time one of them actually gets their hands on her she tends to get thrown around like a rag doll. She wins solely because she's willing to fight extremely dirty and can make literally anything into a weapon.
  • Ms. Fanservice:
    • Lorraine is seen naked several times, and this trope is taken up to eleven when Lorraine and Delphine have sex in a hotel.
    • Conversely, the scene where Lorraine is introduced downplays this trope in that she is covered with wounds.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Oddly inverted. Everyone is well aware that Percival is an embarrassment at best and a traitor at worst, but Gray is still furious that Lorraine killed him. He's still a subject of the Crown and her superior officer, after all.
  • New Wave Music: The soundtrack is loaded with it, somewhat anachronistically given its 1989 setting. This may be justified for scenes set in East Germany, where it was difficult to stay up-to-date with Western music, fashion and entertainment due to censorship, but the scenes in West Germany have no such excuse.
  • No Name Given: The team of KGB operatives that go up against Lorraine and Percival are never named, simply credited as Driver (the one with a broken nose), Spotter, Sniper (the mustached one) and Soldier (the blond brute who puts up the biggest fight against Lorraine).
  • Nothing but Hits: Mostly American and English hits from the 80s, but there are a few Russian and German hits from the time period as well. In something of a common subtrope of Nothing but Hits, the music is chosen to evoke the 80s overall, rather than the late-80s specifically. House, hip-hop, hair metal and college rock/early grunge would be more accurate for 1989, but the new wave/synthpop music that peaked in popularity around 1983 and was mostly dead by '85 is used instead. This could be somewhat explained by the fact that it was harder for East Germans to catch up with Western trends due to censorship.
  • Not My Driver: Lorraine is supposed to be picked up at the airport by Percival, but is told that he's running late. She only figures out that her substitute drivers are there to kill her when she's in their car. Except they aren't, and she fights them to keep up appearances for Percival who's following them, much to the Russians' confusion.
  • Not Quite Dead: The brute KGB agent comes back for one last attempt on Lorraine's life before finally being run over.
  • One-Woman Army: Lorraine, Lorraine, Lorraine, who can take down entire squads of police officers and KGB Mooks with at most a single pistol, her fists and whatever objects aren't tied down. Downplayed by the fact that without the element of surprise, she still has to struggle and work for her combat victories against even a few enemies at a time. Nevertheless, she always comes out on top.
  • The Oner: The stairwell fight scene, which also spills into several abandoned apartments and eventually the streets of Berlin in a car chase, is filmed to look like a 7+ minute long unbroken long take, and is billed by many reviewers and the marketing itself as the film's Signature Scene.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: With actual plot purpose! Lorraine's dodgy English accent at first seems like Charlize Theron having trouble doing the accent, but later it turns out that she's a CIA triple-agent, and so she wasn't even English to begin with!
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Kurzfeld has to explain to Gray who Sinéad O'Connor is after Lorraine compares Percival's haircut to the singer's.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Downplayed: While we don't see much from the front, one of the KGB mooks gets shot in the head and leaves a massive blood splatter on the wall behind him, so the exit wound was anything but pretty or little.
  • Product Placement: Blatantly so for Stoli vodka and Jack Daniels whiskey.
  • Punk: Many of East Berlin's dissatisfied youths have the classic punk style. This was something of a historical nod to the punk subculture of Germany of the time.
  • Queer Colors: Prior to the main storyline, Cold War-era spy Lorraine Broughton had a sexual relationship with fellow agent James Gascoine. Her scenes with French agent Delphine Lasalle in an East Berlin restaurant have heavily saturated pink, purple, and blue lighting, and they have a whirlwind affair.
  • Queer Establishing Moment: Lorraine kissing Delphine while they're in a nightclub together reveals she's also into women (after having shown attraction to men), and they soon have sex together.
  • Recorded Spliced Conversation: Lorraine edits tapes of conversations she recorded of Percival, including his final Motive Rant, and presents them to MI-6 as proof of Percival being SATCHEL instead of her.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Percival is the more outgoing hedonistic Red to Lorraine's cold professional Blue.
  • Revolvers Are for Amateurs: The only character to wield one is the inexperienced Delphine. Merited, it's a Manurhin MR 73, the sidearm of the French GIGN, and quite arguably a higher quality gun than anyone else in the film is carrying.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Loraine's primary weapon, the Makarov PM is a equivalent copy of the Walther PPK used by James Bond reflecting how she's a fake MI6 agent and not actually an Englishwoman.
  • Running Gag:
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story:
    • Spyglass gets shot and eventually drowns trapped in a sinking car, despite all of Lorraine's efforts to keep him safe.
    • Invoked by the Americans against the Russians and British. The Berlin Wall falls on its own due to protests, which is exactly what Satchel and the CIA had been working towards for years, and Satchel further kills the heads of the other nation's spy agencies in Berlin, forcing both MI-6 and the KGB to walk away without ever knowing what became of the list.
    • One of the running themes of the film is the characters coming to the realization that the entire Cold War was more or less a Shaggy Dog Story, and that after all the proxy wars, spying schemes, and hundreds of thousands of innocents killed in the chess duel between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, the "war" would end without a shot fired between the actual superpowers. Percival realizing this led him to Go Mad from the Revelation and become a Rogue Agent.
  • Shout-Out:
    • While in East Berlin, Lorraine cuts into a screening of Stalker (1979) to evade some KGB goons, and even has a fight scene behind the cinema screen.
    • A subverted one. The gun Lorraine primarily uses throughout the movie is a suppressed Makarov PM, the standard USSR Red Army and KGB pistol which took multiple design cues from the Walther PPK favored by James Bond and used in Real Life by the British intelligence and law enforcement communities. It's also an incredibly subtle hint that Loraine isn't actually an Englishwoman or loyal to MI6.
  • Shown Their Work: The German language used in this movie is surprisingly spot-on overall in a refreshing aversion of Gratuitous German. Barring a few minor grammatical slip-ups and Lorraine's atrocious accent, most of the German lines almost sound like they're spoken by natives, although of course without any of the Berliner dialects the actual natives would sport. Bremovych addressing the East Berlin punks early in the film is arguably the most impressive example by virtue of the sheer length and number of his lines, coupled with his near-total lack of a Russian accent.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Something of a Running Gag in the movie is that the soundtrack kicks into overdrive when many of the movie's really violent scenes happen.
    • Gascoigne is killed while the original New Order version of "Blue Monday" blares.
    • Lorraine realizes the MI6 agents she's been given a lift by are really KGB agents and then starts fighting them while in a moving car and eventually crashing, all while "Völlig losgelöst" (sometimes known as "Major Tom") by Peter Schilling is playing.
    • Bremovych starts playing an uptempo section of "99 Luftballons" over a boombox before brutally interrogating a skater punk by beating him with his own board.
    • Percival has a brutal and cruel fight with Delphine set to "Voices Carry."
    • Lorraine beats the crap out of an entire squad of West German police officers while the low-tempo love ballad "Father Figure" by George Michael plays as Source Music.
    • Lorraine arriving at the hotel in Paris in the climax is set to... "London Calling" by The Clash.
  • Source Music:
    • Occasionally, the film has its soundtrack play In-Universe, such as when Lorraine turns on a stereo playing "Father Figure" by George Michael to hide her presence to some West German police officers before smacking them down while the song blares in the background.
    • Similarly, "Blue Monday" plays over the opening chase scene where Gascoine is killed, before it's revealed that it's being played in Bakhtin's car.
    • Delphine is listening to "Voices Carry" on her Walkman, before her fatal fight with Percival, and it's still coming out of her discarded headphones during the fight.
  • Spy Fiction: The Cold War Berlin setting, bloody violence, Black-and-Gray Morality, lack of fanciful gadgets, and Lorraine's aversion of Beauty Is Never Tarnished would put it the Stale Beer category, but the fancy hotel rooms and clubs, expensive drink orders, Lorraine's impeccable fashion sense and the very 1980s soundtrack push it into a (very) Dirty Martini.
  • Stock Scream: The West German police mook Lorraine straps a hose to in order to escape utters the Wilhelm Scream when she swings out of the apartment with it.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: The running theme of the whole movie is to take action tropes, examine them closely, then apply real-life outcomes to them, all while still ticking all the boxes of an action flick:
    • The movie is told in flashback of Lorraine in several brutal fights. Thus, the first scene has her in a tub showing a body marked with multiple bruises and cuts, a black eye and several fingers cracked and swollen at the knuckles.
    • By the end of the incredible, brutal stairway/room battle, a bloodied Lorraine can barely stand, let alone fight.
    • Nobody dies immediately unless they get shot in the head, and when somebody gets knocked down in a fight, they don't stay down after one punch, they keep getting back up until they are too exhausted or badly wounded to stand and fight.
      • Not only this, there is no such thing as a bullet leaving Only a Flesh Wound. One agent gets shot in the gut near the beginning of stairway fight and keeps fighting. A few minutes and a few punches to the wound later, he passes out because of that injury, likely to die from either blood loss or shock.
    • The whole "slightly built woman overpowers huge muscular guys" cliche is basically obliterated. Lorraine is no pixie, but she's quite a bit shorter and certainly not as strong or muscular as most of the burly gorillas the KGB throws at her, so she has to compensate for the disadvantage she has in terms of physical strength by using ambush tactics and hitting them with literally everything she can get her hands on, over and over and over again. Meanwhile, said burly henchmen easily toss her about like a ragdoll and subject her to highly damaging, powerful blows whenever they do get their hands on her.
  • Thrill Seeker:
    • Subverted with Delphine, who says she got into the world of spies looking for excitement, but the harshness of life as a spy in East Berlin has scared it out of her.
    • Played straight with Percival, who loves the world of intrigue and danger that Berlin has become.
  • Throw-Away Guns: Lorraine doesn't have any spare mags, so she just ditches the empty ones and just takes guns off dead enemies.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Delphine demonstrates her inexperience as a spy by listening to loud music on a Walkman while walking around unarmed wearing nothing but lingery, and this although she knows there's at least one hostile agent after her who could burst in at any moment. True enough, her lapse of judgement lets Percival get the jump on her easily and ultimately results in her death.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Several trailers and TV spots feature Goodman's character describing Lorraine as "our best intelligence expert", ruining the twist that she was CIA all along.
  • Tranquil Fury: Gray is all but trembling with fury when he learns that Lorraine killed Percival, but his voice remains perfectly even.
  • Trapped in a Sinking Car: This happens to Lorraine and Spyglass when she's trying to transport him safely across the border. She makes it out, he doesn't.
  • Unusual Euphemism:
    • Lorraine mentions her former sexual relationship with Gascoine by saying she knew him, "Enough to say hello."
    • Lorraine's boss asks her whether she was sleeping with the female French operative by asking whether Lorraine "made contact".
      Lorraine: Obviously.
  • Unreliable Voiceover: Lorraine is telling the story to her superiors at MI6, and we see the events in flashback. As her story progresses, the flashbacks begin to diverge more and more from what we see. It starts with her omitting the intimate details of her relationship with Delphine, and culminates when she claims that Percival was Satchel while the flashbacks show her doctoring the evidence to frame him.
  • Villainous Friendship: Bremovych seemed to believe he had this with "Comrade Satchel", and is visibly saddened when he orders Lorraine's death. He doesn't stay sad for long.
  • Visual Pun: Lorraine is stalked through a movie theater screening Stalker (1979).
  • Waif-Fu: Subverted. Lorraine is a badass and certainly well-muscled, but she is still physically weaker than most of her opponents, so she compensates by using the environment, throwing, and generally hitting harder and more than they do. Whenever they actually get their hands on her, the burly henchmen throw her around like a ragdoll. It's a combination of her ability to turn literally every advantage and weapon against them and her extreme resilience that saves her.
  • Well, This Is Not That Trope: The movie begins with the standard use of Ronald Reagan's Cold War rhetoric ("Tear down this wall!" in particular), along with a description about when the Berlin Wall was officially destroyed. This is subsequently covered with graffiti, which clarifies that this is not that story.
  • Would Hit a Girl: All of Lorraine's opponents, naturally, provided they actually do get a hit in. Also Percival, who brutally kills Delphine and likely would've erased Lorraine.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Downplayed, in that the KGB agent and Lorraine can and DO, but they stick around to hear a Dying Speech before finishing their opponents off rather than skipping to the killing-them part.
  • Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell: The movie is a thoroughly violent Spy Fiction set during the fall of the Berlin Wall. As in, two spies have a conversation literally looking over the wall into East Berlin, then a day or two later the wall is rubble. A big point of the film is that what they're doing is ultimately pointless, because Communism's over, and yet it's not pointless because nothing has actually changed.


Video Example(s):


Lorraine Broughton

Lorraine kissing Delphine while they're in a nightclub together reveals she's also into women (after having shown attraction to men), and they soon have sex together.

How well does it match the trope?

4 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / QueerEstablishingMoment

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