The Short Version? Spandex heroine versus totalitarian regime.
What Is It? Sci-Fi/Action.
Who's In It? Charlize Theron.
Should I See It? No.
I remember when the credits began to roll on my first viewing of "The Matrix." A triumph number by "Rage Against The Machine" played, inciting rebellion and leading into the bludgeoning nihilism of Marilyn Manson's "Rock Is Dead." That's how you ended a great counter-culture cyberpunk movie in 1999. I don't know offhand how one should have done the same thing in 2005. Neither did the Wachowskis, based on their lousy sequals to "The Matrix." The same would seem to apply to "Aeon Flux" director Karyn Kusama, who played out her epic with a low-key, droning electronica number. It perfectly encapsulated her movie, however.
The "Aeon Flux" animated short for MTV's "Liquid Television" were high on imagery, short on narrative. A nearly nude woman in shiny vinyl killed hosts of masked troops in her dogged pursuit scientist/tyrant with fashion model looks, which might explain the frequent sexual tension between the two. In fact, the whole series seemed more than anything to be about sexualized violence and victimization through circumstance. All the characters were anorexic, with predatory eyes and obscure motivations. It was like the distilled essential appeal of the 60's spy thriller, untroubled by the particulars of purpose and recontextualized as sci-fi for modern consumption.
"Aeon Flux" the movie tries valiantly to retain the off-kilter orientation and intriguing visuals of the shorts, but marries it to a somber, sexless engine that ultimately owes more to melodramatic 50's Hollywood tearjerkers and the cold dystopic speculations of 70's films like "Soylent Green" and "THX 1138." The action choreography is serviceable, but veers too close to "Charlie's Angels" flaunting of physics without going far enough over the top to accurately reflect the cartoons. The vivid production design and Berlin location shooting was chosen to steer the visuals far from the terrain of the many "Blade Runner" imitators, but at its heart it is as dour as any of them. Perhaps this was a conscious choice, as the film's characters are existentially conflicted through most of its running time. Regardless, the audience is tortured by quirkty CGI and wonderful costumes in service to an idling story with lifeless performances.
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