Aeon Flux Review

Aeon Flux isn't the movie I walked in expecting to see. In one way it's worse, in another it's better. What I thought would surely work was the action: leather-clad babes doing battle in a sci-fi setting, a teenage nerd's masturbation fantasy. In fact the action scenes are relatively poor. Strangely, the element I assumed would be thrown away - the plot - is absorbing, imaginative and even intelligent.

The film is based on an animated science fiction TV series that ran on MTV and was inspired by Japanese manga comics. Its story takes place four hundred years into the future, after a plague has decimated most of humanity. All that survives is a city state, which is run by a totalitarian regime led by dictator Trevor Goodchild (Marton Csokas). (Note to screenwriters: dictators should not be called Trevor.) The population live their lives under constant scrutiny and in fear of Goodchild's security forces, which are controlled by his brother Oren (Jonny Lee Miller). Out of growing public frustration, a resistance movement has risen to challenge the regime. They are known as the Monicans and their most skilled agent is the beautiful Aeon Flux (Charlize Theron).

So the story starts out as yet another sci-fi tale of rebels battling an evil empire but surprisingly that isn't how it ends. Aeon Flux has some genuinely clever twists and turns which reveal that Trevor Goodchild and his regime aren't quite what they seem and that the malaise that afflicts the population isn't entirely down to government oppression. While the film doesn't side with totalitarianism, it does at least have the brains to ask questions about what causes it and where the line is between protecting us and oppressing us. Aeon Flux doesn't supply the answers but just asking the questions demonstrates more intelligence than a movie like Equilibrium which simply says, "rebels = good, government = bad, now let's have an action scene".

Okay, Aeon Flux does say, "let's have an action scene" and it says so quite a lot. Unfortunately, with the honourable exception of the climax, which is well staged, the action consists of forgettable fights and shoot-outs edited so rapidly that you can barely make out what's going on. It's distracting rather than exciting. So is the self-consciously arty direction by Karyn Kusama, who made the independent hit Girlfight and seems to think she's making a Far Eastern art film.

The acting is about par for the genre but disappointing considering the talent involved - the cast also includes Pete Postlethwaite, Frances McDormand and Sophie Okonedo. As for Charlize Theron, her acting chops had a better workout in the under-rated North Country and she makes Aeon a touch too sensitive for a supercool assassin, but it can't be denied she looks great in a black goth haircut and leather fetish gear.

Overall

6

out of 10

Last updated: 19/04/2018 06:18:02

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