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The Ending Of Atomic Blonde Explained

When Atomic Blonde premiered in 2017, it was applauded by critics and moviegoers alike, earning a 78-percent critical approval on Rotten Tomatoes. The film also served to reaffirm a few things. First, no one can stop Charlize Theron. She executive-produced the movie and once again performed most of her own stunts. Second, those fight scenes were no walk in the park, as director David Leitch showcased the same stunt expertise he had with 2014's John Wick – this time with heels. And thirdly, like La Femme Nikita, Red Sparrow, and Salt before it, the film reaffirmed that female-led spy thrillers are just as (if not more) intriguing than any Bond-esque flicks on the market. Sorry, James.

The story begins simply enough. Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is a spy ordered by the British intelligence agency MI6 to retrieve a dossier from an assassinated MI6 agent before anyone else does. The internationally coveted list contains the names of every secret agent located in Berlin at the time (1989). The precious pieces of information are coded into a wristwatch, the MacGuffin of the film, which allows viewers to be transported into a world of reconnaissance and sleek '80s aesthetic. Performances by Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, and Sofia Boutella bolster the plot, which, by the ending scenes, got a little hazy for the audience. For those confused about exactly who Satchel is, or, for that matter, who Lorraine really is, read on for the ending of Atomic Blonde explained.

Broughton outsmarts the world in Atomic Blonde

Atomic Blonde uses the real-world macro event of the Cold War to drive forward the actions of secret government agencies on a micro level. The outcome of Lorraine's mission means the difference between prolonging the Cold War or ending it. Taking place during the final days before the collapse of the Berlin Wall, Atomic Blonde is essentially a global race between the Americans (repped by the CIA), the British MI6, the Russian KGB, and German Stasi officers. Throw in wild cards MI6 station chief David Percival (McAvoy) and Broughton, neither of which are who they appear to be, and you've got yourself one wild and (not so) wacky arms race.

After discovering that he's been surveilling her since she arrived in Berlin, Lorraine tracks down and kills Percival, and act which also avenges her slain girlfriend, French spy Delphine Lasalle (Boutella). Lorraine then takes The List and heads back to the UK for debriefing. In true spy fashion, Lorraine withholds The List from MI6 and manages to frame Percival as the mysterious double agent Satchel. Faced with Lasalle's photos and Percival's own recordings, MI6 has no choice but to close the case. All's well that ends well!

But how would a spy thriller be thrilling without a few twists? After she wraps things up in the UK, Lorraine visits KGB agent Bremovych (Roland Møller), who greets her as the infamous Satchel. He immediately tries to kill her, having learned another secret about her following a meeting with Percival prior to his death. Lorraine takes out Bremovych and his men, revealing what he knew to the audience with a simple shift of her accent from (vaguely) Russian to American.

In a final twist, Lorraine walks onto a plane with CIA agent Kurzfield (Goodman), revealing that she wasn't just a double agent within MI6 feeding intel to KGB but a triple agent whose origins are in American Intelligence. She's now secured The List for the CIA, ensuring that the world's secrets are kept safe and that the Cold War ends as planned.

Atomic Blonde was just the beginning

Broughton's final moments leave the door open for a possible sequel to Atomic Blonde. She's headed back to the US, presumably to resume her life prior to deep espionage, but her identity as Satchel was compromised. Neither Russian nor British Intelligence will be too happy once they find out they've been duped. It sets the stage for a bevy of possibilities for the elite CIA agent's next mission, should she chose to accept it. In an interview with Total Film, Theron commented on where Broughton could go next: "That character was set up in a way where she didn't really reveal much of herself. So I feel like there's a lot of potential there. The bar's pretty high, but we're excited about it."

Atomic Blonde was based on the graphic novel The Coldest City by Antony Johnston. While the book doesn't have an official sequel, Theron confirmed a sequel in the same Total Film interview, adding that Netflix was currently attached. According to Discussing Film, the sequel will once again be produced by Denver and Delilah Productions, which was founded by Theron and has backed a number of her successful films, including The Old Guard, Monster, Young Adult, and the animated The Addams Family and The Addams Family 2.