While explaining the plot of Atomic Blonde to a coworker today, I mentioned the List (as it's a central plot point). My coworker responded by asking if they explained where that would have come from.

From my understanding, the List contained the names and aliases of all active field agents in the Soviet Union. Was it ever explained why this List existed to begin with? It doesn't seem like it would have been created by the Soviets, as that seems as bad of an idea as a company keeping everyone's current passwords on a sheet of paper.

Considering the movie begins with it being in the possession of James Gascoigne, was the List created by MI6?

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    Was the list just soviet double agents? I think it was implied that it also contained other duplicitous people and some of their misdeeds. The British seems fairly happy for it not to be public at the end.
    – matt_black
    Aug 10, 2017 at 23:23
  • @matt_black you're probably right-- the Wikipedia page says "all active field agents in the Soviet Union" or something to that extent and I may have misread it as meaning "currently active Soviet agents". Though, if it's all agents, it's even more confusing where that information could have come from.
    – Vemonus
    Aug 10, 2017 at 23:26
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    In reality, of course, the list is a classic McGuffin. How and where it was generated is irrelevant to the actual story being told so there is no need to explain it properly. Similar lists propel the plot in other spy movies (like, for example, Safe House (2012)) without their origin ever being explained.
    – matt_black
    Aug 10, 2017 at 23:32

1 Answer 1


The list was created by the Soviet Union's counter-intelligence unit(s), it kept track of every agent, from every nation, currently in Berlin -- at the height of the tensions just before the wall came down.

"Spyglass" was the codename of the Soviet-Union agent who had the list and was negotiating with it to defect and cross the Berlin Wall border.

This is briefly explained at the beginning of the movie, and can be confirmed with this image from the pages of the graphic novel ("The Coldest City" by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart) that the movie is based-off of:

enter image description here

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