Sound & Vision - - ENTERTAINMENT - Bran­don A. DuHamel

David Leitch is known mostly as a stunt co­or­di­na­tor on big ac­tion films like Tron: Le­gacy, but for Atomic Blonde he steps be­hind the cam­era as the big man in charge to di­rect an adap­ta­tion of the graphic novel se­ries The Cold­est City by Antony John­son and Sam Hart. The movie is fairly drip­ping in neon and ’80s nos­tal­gia. Char­l­ize Theron stars as sexy Cold War MI6 agent Lor­raine Broughton, tasked to go into East Ber­lin and work with em­bed­ded sta­tion chief David Per­ci­val (James McAvoy) in or­der to find a sen­si­tive dossier known as The List as com­mu­nism is on the verge of col­laps­ing and the Ber­lin Wall is lit­er­ally about to crum­ble. Things go side­ways the minute she lands and is made an agent by the Sovi­ets. It’s a vis­ually stun­ning film that takes place all on the sur­face, but things break down if you try too hard to fol­low the plot line.

Atomic Blonde was shot on Arri Alexa M and Arri Alexa XT Plus cam­eras with Hawk V-Lite Vin­tage 74 lenses at 2.4K res­o­lu­tion. The anamor­phic 2.40:1 pro­duc­tion used a 2K DI and was done in Dolby Vi­sion; it also ar­rives on 4K Ul­tra HD in a 2160p en­code­ment from Uni­ver­sal with Dolby Vi­sion HDR (HDR10 com­pat­i­ble). Al­though it’s up­scaled to 4K, it’s the ex­tended color gamut and dy­namic range that re­ally make the im­age stand out. The ’80s retro look and the neon pop may bor­der on kitschy, but they do look glo­ri­ous here. There’s strong shadow de­tail, su­perb de­tail with­out any flaws, and a fan­tas­tic range of colors (check out the right-hand cor­ner of the screen and the sky­line when James McAvoy is run­ning to dive into the man­hole near the Ber­lin Wall at night).

Atomic Blonde re­ceives a DTS:X sound­track (com­pat­i­ble with DTSHD Mas­ter Au­dio 7.1) on Ul­tra HD. The height chan­nels add a lot of spa­cious­ness, and the mix is su­perbly bal­anced. The low end is big enough to rat­tle some floor­boards, but it never seems over­whelm­ing. The com­ple­ment of era-ap­pro­pri­ate rock songs re­ally adds a lot of punch.

Given that this is Leitch’s first fea­ture film, it’s un­sur­pris­ing that the most in­ter­est­ing spe­cial fea­ture is the nearly eight-minute “Anatomy of a Fight Scene,” which dis­sects the bloody se­quence at the cen­ter of the film. Other fea­tures in­clude a com­men­tary with Leitch and edi­tor Elís­a­bet Ron­alds­dót­tir, and “Wel­come to Ber­lin,” which pro­vides some in­ter­est­ing his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive about Ber­lin dur­ing the wan­ing days of com­mu­nism. A Blu-ray Disc and Ul­tra­Vi­o­let and iTunes Dig­i­tal Copies are also in­cluded.


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