This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com
Hmm. A live action version of an animated show. These things almost never work. Perhaps the slightly unusual fact that this is from a MTV backed, HK built affair will give it an edge over unmitigated disasters such as The Guyver and, er, The Guyver 2: Dark Hero? No. Not in the slightest.
To my recollection, I’ve never seen any of the animated series that this flick-me-do is based on. I am however, reliably informed that it was edgy, sexy, classy, gory, action packed, intriguing, unconventional and for want of a better term, cool. It was essentially, I suppose, The Matrix long before The Matrix was The Matrix. You’d never guess this from the bland mess it has become in Hollywood’s hands.
Bregna, walled off city state with some five million inhabitants, the last humans on earth after a viral strain played merry hell with earth some 400 years prior. Ruled over by a self elected committee headed by the scientist responsible for the cure to the virus, Trevor Goodchild (Marton Csokas) and his brother Oren (Jonny Lee Miller), the populace live in relative happiness barring the odd funny dreams of memories that didn’t happen and the odd Argentine-style government-backed ‘disappearance’.The titular hellraiser Aeon Flux (Charlize Theron), elite assassin-cum-spy for the underground resistance the Monicans, so named for their idolisation of the Friends character, is sent to assassinate El Trev. She takes some pleasure in this though, what with her little sister Una (Amelia Warner) being one of the aforementioned disappeared and all. After what was no doubt intended as a pulse pounding jaunt through Goodchild’s bizarre garden of automated defences helped by overly handy Monican Sithandra (Sophie Okonedo), she discovers she can’t carry out the requisite wet work.
Haunted by the strange feelings that this man is rather familiar to her, the trigger remains unpulled and she’s captured. Goodchild’s decision to spare her life exacerbates fraternal tensions to the point of a military coup. With Trevor and Aeon now on the run from the Monicans and the government, it seems as good a time as any for Goodchild to spill the beans about what he’s really been up to for the past 400 years. Turns out he’s not as non-specifically evil as he’s been implied to be. Who’d have thunk it?
Aeon Flux is, frankly, a mess of bland, iffily CG enhanced, excitement devoid action scenes, gaping plot holes, half baked ideas and desperate nods at the fanboys. Trying to walk the line between mainstream action flick and edgy, quirky sci-fi oddity, it not only falls between two stools but falls flat on its face. Into a stool. It manages to veer just enough from the mainstream to repel anyone looking for a common or garden actioner yet not far enough to define a truly original, compelling and cohesive vision. In trying to be something to everyone it’s become nothing to anybody. Well, near enough.
For reasons mankind’s best scientists have yet to determine, Aeon Flux has achieved the levels of blinkered IMDb message board fanboyism unheard of since Matrix Reloaded, funnily enough with its defenders using exactly the same arguments. You don’t understand it! It’s too deep and complex for you! You’re too old! Respectively, I do, it’s not, and, well, you might have a point on the last one as it appears to have been pitched at twelve to sixteen year olds who are happy with films that have daft guns and pretty girls in tight outfights. In other words, Underworld fans. And you probably know how little esteem we have for those beasts round these parts.
Theron, unquestionably a fine actress, floats around as detached, characterless and unemotional as she is breathtakingly pretty poured into that suit. That Theron in that suit is the only positive selling point is something of a pity, as it means the poster for the film is significantly better than the film itself. Miller, whose character begs for a scheming, threatening, duplicitous, psychotic performance merely looks bored by it all, and when that’s pretty much the best acting performance on display you know thar be trouble a’brewin’.
Everything about this film feels overcautious, as though director Karyn Kusama doesn’t want to commit fully to any sort of vision for fear of diluting the possible box office appeal. I’m left with the impression that the inexperienced Kusama started off with a small, gritty, lower budget, more interesting affair that’s snowballed unexpectedly, every additional naught on the budget reducing the risks taken to appease the suits. Whether that’s even remotely true or not I don’t care, and indeed is somewhat beside the point. After all, if that’s how I felt about it, it must be the case, in some sort of Zen fashion. Maybe.
The end result of all of this is a film that, wouldn’t you know it, is pretty dull. There’s very little more to be said about, and seeing as that’s as damning a statement as I can make about any film, it’s all that needs to be said.
Bonus point for having Pete Postlethwaite dressed in an outfit that makes him look like the top half of a fajita.