Close menu


Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

“Your Body Belongs to the State”: The Mobilization of the Action Heroine in Service of the State in Red Sparrow and Atomic Blonde

Ward, Daniel (2020) “Your Body Belongs to the State”: The Mobilization of the Action Heroine in Service of the State in Red Sparrow and Atomic Blonde. In: Cold War II: Hollywood's Renewed Obsession With Russia. University Press of Mississippi, Jackson, Mississippi, pp. 112-128. ISBN 9781496831149

Item Type: Book Section


A key theme of Cold War cinema in the US has been the projection of difference between Russians and Americans.These tendencies have continued to manifest in the latest strain of Cold War cinema. In this article, I examine two examples of recent Cold War film which also constitute part of another increasingly prominent format within popular cinema, the female-centred action thriller. Atomic Blonde (Leitch, 2017) is a stylised period piece which depicts a tough, street-smart American undercover agent outmanoeuvring and outlasting regressive, misogynistic KGB agents (along with their British counterparts) in Berlin. Red Sparrow (Lawrence, 2018) updates the setting to the modern day, but the familiar tropes of Hollywood’s imagining of Cold War Russia remain conspicuous: the state is omnipotent and all-controlling, its corrupt officials and security apparatus wielding their repressive power ruthlessly against civilians. One particular area of interest here is not just in the familiar forms of dehumanisation invoked to reinforce the inherent othering of the rival nation, but also in how Hollywood interpolates the ostensibly progressive image of the self-reliant female action hero in working to shore up perceptions of institutions such as the CIA.

13382.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (288kB) | Preview

More Information

Related URLs:
Depositing User: Dan Ward


Item ID: 13382
ISBN: 9781496831149
Official URL:

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Daniel Ward: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2021 07:51
Last Modified: 21 Nov 2022 03:38


Author: Daniel Ward ORCID iD

University Divisions

Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries > School of Media and Communications


Media > Cinema and Film
Culture > History and Politics

Actions (login required)

View Item (Repository Staff Only) View Item (Repository Staff Only)