This kind of role suits Charlize Theron:
coldly glamorous and stylishly lethal.
She plays a spy, Lorraine Broughton, operating in Cold War-era
Berlin, just before The Wall came down.
MI6 sends her to that hotbed of clandestine activity ostensibly in
order to recover a list of operative agents, which threatens to undermine
the serenity of both her superiors and their American counterparts in the
When she arrives, she's supposed to be met by David Percival (James
McAvoy), himself a station chief, who's been entrenched there for 10
years, and seems to have gone a bit native.
But Lorraine sees through his charming,
(Others he meets are fooled into lowering their guard around him;
assuming him to be an incompetent: an
often fatal mistake.)
Since the movie is based on a graphic novel, we have lots of glossy
photo ops but not much in the way of plot subtlety.
Lorraine is constantly walking into traps where she has to use her
considerable combat skills to survive, but not without some cuts and
bruises herself. And some
unexpected betrayals. Most of
the story is told in retrospect, in an emotionally-charged de-briefing
session, where she is unafraid to accuse her superiors of setting her up,
not only to test the moxie of Percival (and is he really a double agent?),
but also as “bait” for securing that elusive list, which has already
claimed the life of anyone who pursues it.
But as smooth and lovely as Lorraine is, she's a hard character to
like, primarily because she's such a hard character.
She doesn't seem to make any connection with any genuine emotion;
she seems to possess no humor except a sarcastic snicker.
She certainly is far removed from the tongue-in-cheek, savoir-faire
irony of a James Bond-type operative.
There's nothing soft or self-deprecating about her.
Even her one apparently romantic encounter, with lovely French
operative Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella) doesn't seem to bring out any
vulnerability in her; only in Delphine.
The whole impression is a little bit like John le Carre's spy
novels: it takes on the point
of view of the characters who aren't quite sure what's happening, with the
result that the viewer is never quite sure, either.
But it's all part of the slick intrigue.
It's very violent, but then, that's not too surprising for a movie
featuring a frothing nest of spies in a rapidly-changing political context
at the cusp of a great paradigm shift.
But Lorraine Broughton is the kind of rough-and-tumble secret agent
you'd like to have on your side.