The concept of a chilly hottie kicking ass and drilling bad guys was hatched 27 years ago by Luc Besson‘s La Femme Nikita, and a lot of superspy/action films have tired to make that shit work ever since. The problem is that you need a female lead whom you can really and truly believe can punch and kick like a horse. Did you believe that Salt‘s Angelina Jolie was strong and tough enough to beat up big bruisers? I didn’t.

Up until now the only female action heroine I’ve really believed could seriously kick ass was Gina Carano in Steven Soderbergh‘s Haywire. But I think I’ve been sold again — Charlize Theron as Lorraine Broughton in Atomic Blonde (Focus Features, 7.28). She’s strong and scrappy enough, having more than proved her mettle in Mad Max: Fury Road.

Based on a graphic novel called The Coldest City, a Cold War-era Berlin thing (circa 1989) about double agents and whatnot, pic costars James McAvoy, John Goodman, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella and Toby Jones. Pic will premiere two days hence — Sunday, 3.12 — at South by Southwest.

The only scary element is that ex-stunt guy David Leitch is the director. Leith co-directed John Wick with Chad “pool attendant” Stahelski, and has directed the forthcoming, almost-sure-to-blow-chunks Deadpool 2. Leitch is definitely trouble.