Atomic Blonde: The Guns of Charlize Theron Movies
The Oscar-winning actress is bringing a character to theaters that some are calling the female John Wick. The Cold War action event opens this week.
Today, Academy-Award-winning actress Charlize Theron is bringing a new character to cinemas that some reviewers are calling the female John Wick with her new Cold War action event Atomic Blonde.
Theron plays Lorraine Broughton, an MI6 spy (so yeah, she’s a bit Bond as well) who is dispatched to Berlin on the eve of the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 after an undercover agents has been mysteriously murdered.
From the trailer, it looks like the gunplay has a similar flavor to the John Wick movies, but Theron has also done a lot of training for what look to be some extensive fights scenes. You can see the kind of effort she put forth here:
All the pieces are there. Let’s see if Theron and her new film can help continue what Wick started and reinvigorate the action genre when Atomic Blonde hits theaters nationwide today. In the meantime, take a look at the guns she uses in the trailer, and the other firearms she’s used on screen in her film career going back to the mid-90s:
Atomic Blonde (2017):
Since Atomic Blonde is an adaptation of a graphic novel set in 1989, it’s a given that Theron’s Lorraine Broughton, a top-level MI6 agent, wouldn’t be using an ultra modern sidearm. The choice of pistol is reminiscent of James Bond’s long-time pistol, the Walther PPK, but has a distinctive Eastern flavor that fits perfectly with the character.
From what we can see in the trailer, Lorraine’s primary arm is a variant of the Makarov pistol, a Russian-made semi-automatic handgun that began serving as the Soviet Union’s standard military and police sidearm in 1951.
In December 1945, the Soviets held two separate contests for a new service pistol. It was later determined that the best round suited for the intended role would be the new 9.2x18mm cartridge. The pistol designed by Nikolay Fyodorovich Makarov was inspired by the German Walther PP and stood out because of its simplicity, reliability, easy disassembly, and robustness.
After being formally adopted in 1951, it served as the standard Russian sidearm until 2003 when it was formally replaced by the PYa pistol—however, the Makarov is still in service throughout Russia, in Eastern European nations, and former Soviet Republics. Plus, variants of the Makarov are still in production in Russia, China, and Bulgaria. In the U.S., surplus Soviet and East German military Makarov pistols are listed as eligible curio and relic items by the ATF, since the countries of manufacture, the USSR and GDR, no longer exist.
We first see Lorraine use her Makarov, which appears to have black synthetic grips, in the intense opening scene of the trailer as she readies herself in an elevator for an expected conflict when the doors open.
She engages a bad guy immediately, blocking his pistol hand and firing point blank into his torso with the Makarov in a very John Wick-like sequence. She loses the pistol soon after and has to resort to hand-to-hand combat, for which Theron obviously did a good amount of training.
We also get a close-up of Lorraine screwing a suppressor onto a Makarov, possibly a different pistol, before she engages in a serious firefight in a posh hotel room with some really yellow lighting.
The Makarov is a medium-sized pistol with a straight-blowback action, all steel construction, a frame-fixed barrel, and an 8-round detachable box magazine. When resting, the only thing holding the slide in position is the recoil spring. By modern standards, the Makarov is a heavy brick of a handgun for it’s size and power (26 ounces), but its reliability overshadowed its drawbacks for many decades. After some refinement, the Makarov was reduced to a remarkable 27 parts (all optimized for mass production), not including the magazine, making them considerably easy to maintain and service.
The most common variant is the PMM, or Modernized Makarov pistol, which was created by a group of engineers who reworked the original design in 1990. The goal was mostly to allow the pistol to handle a more powerful cartridge. The result was a significant increase in muzzle velocity and the generation of 25 percent more gas pressure.
Magazines for the PMM hold 12 rounds and could use existing 9.2x18mm Makarov ammo, making this a better choice for the character, though it would be slightly anachronistic. The redesigned pistol also had more ergonomic grip panels and flutes in the chamber that aided in extraction. A suppressed version of the Makarov, the PB, was developed for recon groups and the KGB with a detachable suppressor, but it’s not clear if Lorraine’s suppressed pistol is intended to be the PB.
Previously, the Makarov was actually ported to an even more modern design, though perhaps prematurely, with a polymer frame to reduce weight and costs. It passed Soviet military trials, but at the time, concerns over the polymer’s long-term reliability resulted in the TKB-023 never being fielded.
While that’s the only gun she uses in the trailers, the poster for Atomic Blonde shows Theron holding a Glock, possibly a G17, with a stainless slide, though it’s not known if she uses in the movie. Introduced in 1982, the Glock 17 would still have been a pretty new gun in 1989 and definitely something a MI6 agent would use. Judging by it’s size, the pistol in the poster could also be a Glock 19, which just fits the movie’s timeline, as it was introduced in 1988.
A look at the firepower (and there’s plenty) in the sequel starring Keanu Reeves.
2 Days in the Valley (1996)
Beretta 950B Jeftire
The first time Theron picked up a gun on screen it was in her first credited role as Helga Svelgen in 2 Days in the Valley (1996), John Herzfeld’s attempt to jump on the “intersecting lives” movie structure so popular in the 1990s after the release of Pulp Fiction (1994). The black comedy revolved around 48 hours in the lives of a group of people who are drawn together by a murder.
Toward the final act of the film, Becky (Teri Hatcher) and Helga get into an argument the escalates into a full blown fight, and the two women wrestle over a nickel-plated or polished stainless Beretta 950B JetFire pistol. Becky eventually gets the upper hand and shoots Helga in the scuffle, though it doesn’t kill her outright.
The 950 is a single-action semi-auto pistol chambered in .25 ACP manufactured by Beretta from 1952 until 2003. It built on the company’s long line of small and compact pocket pistols intended for self-defense use. An odd quirk of the JetFire is that it lacks an extractor. Empty shells are instead cleared by blowback pressure.
Reindeer Games (2000)
Glock 22 and Rossi Model 971
Theron next showed up armed on-screen in the 2000 heist film Reindeer Games in which she played Ashley alongside Ben Afleck and Gary Sinise, in what is largely regarded as one of the biggest flops of the decade. It temporarily stalled Afleck’s career, but lickly, Theron bounced back quickly.
Afleck plays an ex-con who is coerced into helping with a casino robbery in Michigan with a gang of criminals, including Ashley (Theron). In the photo above we see Ashley holding a Glock 22, the .40 S&W-caliber bore of which is clearly visible.
During the actual casino heist portion of the movie, Ashley carries a snub-nose Rossi Model 971 revolver with a polished stainless steel finish.
The 971 is a double-action revolver with a six-round capacity and comes chambered in .38 Special +P and .357 Magnum only. The regular finish is blued, but it’s also available in stainless.
Rossi also makes a Model 972, which is stainless with a 6-inch barrel. Both the 971 and 972 are produced in Brazil by Taurus Firearms Ltd. under license from Rossi.
Smith & Wesson Model 19 Snub
In 2002 Theron starred in the America-German crime thriller based on Greg Iles’ bestselling nover “24 Hours” called Trapped. Theron plays Karen Jennings, wife of Dr. Will Jennings (Stuart Townsend), a research physician who has just had his big career break by patenting a new anesthetic.
At the beginning of her kidnapping ordeal, Karen retrieves a Smith & Wesson Model 19 revolver from her closet, but it is soon taken from her by Joe Hickey (Kevin Bacon) who carries it for most of the rest of the film. Karen gets the revolver back after she cuts Joe and locks herself in a closet. The gun is also used by Will at one point.
Smith & Wesson Model 617
In 2003, Theron delivered her Oscar-winning portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wournos in Monster. Wournos was convicted of murdering seven men when she worked as a prostitute between 1989 and 1990 and the film tells her tragic and violent story.
In the film, Wournos uses a beaten-up Smith & Wesson Model 617 revolver chambering in .22LR with an 8-inch barrel to do most of her killing, seen in the photo above.
In real life, Wournos’ weapon of choice was a High-Standard Double Nine, a .22-caliber double-action revolver.
A Million Ways to Die in the West
Webley .455 Mk VI
Theron used a gun on-screen a bit in 2008’s In The Valley of Elah as Det. Emily Sanders and she used an S&W Model 10 in a particularly emotionally damaging scene in The Road (2009), but her next major gun role came in 2014 when she starred alongside a stellar cast in the less-than-stellar Old West comedy from Seth McFarland, A Million Ways to Die In The West.
As Anna Barnes-Leatherwood, Theron carries a Colt Single Action Army revolver as her primary sidearm, along with almost everyone else in the movie. In the shooting gallery scene, Anna wields a pair of large Webley .455 Mk VI pistols (pictured above), provided by the gallery. The inclusion of these guns in anachronistic, since the movie is set in 1882 and the Webley wasn’t introduced until 1915.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Undoubtedly, Theron’s biggest gun movie, until Atomic Blonde anyway, is 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road. She plays Imperator Furiosa in the continuation of the Australian post-apocalyptic high-octane film series from the 1980s, originally starring Mel Gibson as the titular Max.
In this excellent and successful reboot, Theron stars alongside Tom Hardy’s version of Max on a desperate flight across the desert from the oppressive rule of Immortan Joe and his Colt Anaconda, during which she uses a number of dusty guns.
First up is a Taurus PT99AF with a blued finish. Furiosa takes cover with her Taurus as the Buzzards attack the War Rig and we get a good shot of the gun in her hand as she rises up after the attack to see the massive sandstorm approaching.
The gun is later confiscated by Max when he gets aboard the rig.
Furiosa keeps a 9mm Glock 17 pistol hidden in one of the ornamental skulls decorating the exterior of the War Rig. She grabs it during her first fight with Max after they briefly lose their pursuers in the sandstorm. In the photo above, she fights with Max over the Glock after the magazine has been ejected into the sand. She attempts to put the remaining chambered round into Max’s head, but only disorients him when the bullet ricochets off the trailer.
After the night attack, Furiosa aims the Glock 17 into the darkness just before Max returns to the War Rig with supplies he scavenged from the Bullet Farmer’s vehicle. They have a bag holding a hodgepodge of firearms from all different eras (in various calibers) in the War Rig, but there is no supply of ammunition, nor is there a mention in the film of how people in this world find or manufacture ammo.
Webley .455 Mk IV
In a couple scenes, Theron returns to the Webley .455 she used in A Million Ways to Die In The West, but this time its a Mk IV instead of a Mk VI. The gun is initially confiscated by Max after he joins Furiosa and the wives, but is later used by Furiosa to gun down one of Immortan Joe’s War Boys near the end of the first chase.
Sawed-Off Victor Sarasqueta Shotgun
Like the original Max, the new Max’s personal weapon is a sawed-off double barrel shotgun, though it doesn’t get much good screen time. In Fury Road, the shotgun is a cut-down Victor Sarasqueta, which is taken from Max when he is captured by the War Boys at the beginning of the film and given to Nux, who uses it to try and kill Furiosa during the first chase sequence.
Max gets it back and tries to free himself from his bonds with the one remaining shell, only to find that it’s a dud, another nod to the original movies. Even though it’s unloaded, he later uses the shotgun to force Furiosa and the Five Wives to give him water and bolt cutters for his chains. Furiosa eventually gets the shotgun from Max in a struggle, only to find it unloaded and useless.
Chinese SKS Rifle
The War Rig has a Chinese SKS rifle onboard as a long-range rifle. This particular rifle lacks both a bayonet and cleaning rod, and features a pair of Weaver rails for mounting a scope as well as a wooded grip extension attached to the forend. The forgrip is assumedly to help Furiosa grip it better with her mechanical hand.
She uses the rifle during the last leg of the first chase, shooting several Rock Riders and one of Immortan Joe’s Imperators.
Later, during the night scene, she attaches a scope to the SKS and uses it as a sniping weapon, first to kill two pursuing Imperators and later to shoot out the Bullet Farmer’s spotlight in the Green Place after Max fails to do so, blinding the Farmer in the process.
And that brings us to the present. If Atomic Blonde works out, we might be seeing a lot more of an armed Charlize Theron on screens large and small in the near future. You can check out the new movie, also starring James McAvoy, Eddie Marsan, John Goodman, and Toby Jones in theaters everywhere today.