After playing a rugged Erin Brockovich-like heroine in North Country, it’s difficult to imagine a greater departure for Charlize Theron than the title character, Aeon Flux, in director Karyn Kusama’s new neo-feminist action film. Aeon runs, jumps, cartwheels and, in true Kill Bill style, snaps the necks of anonymous Bregnian henchmen with ease. She even transposes her eye for a microscopic globe in one quirky scene.
Aeon is a fighter for the Monican resistance, skilled in stealth and assassination. She champions the causes of freedom and individuality in a dystopic twenty-fifth century where Big Brother’s watery eye sees all, and everyone is haunted by nightmares passed from clone to clone.
Theron, as a versatile actress, clearly knows what she’s doing, but Aeon Flux as a movie is confused. Based on MTV’s early nineties animated series of the same name, the movie version of Aeon Flux is a sanitized, post-apocalyptic piece of mere choreography. Visually stunning, but lacking any real depth in inter-character relationships, Aeon Flux feels sterile and leaves us longing for the darkness and mystery of the genre.
Flux has its fun moments, the traps that beset the heroines are ingeniously organic, indeed, the whole world of Bregna has Garden of Eden qualities. Also, Aeon Flux surely wins the prize for worst sci-fi costume since The Fifth Element. The slug-like cocoon donned by the aged Bregnian scientist is hideously reminiscent of the tentacled azure opera singer.
Anyone seeing this film expecting the violence, fetishism and fatalistic mortality of the original Aeon Flux will be sorely disappointed. This is a Minority Report, not a Blade Runner, Existenz, or Dark City. The stop-start tempo of Aeon’s early missions feels like a bad computer game. There are no smiles in this film until the final credits. We are left feeling empty and bored, not fearful or anxious. If this is the state of contemporary sci-fi then I hope, as
do the films protagonists, that ‘this was all meant to be temporary’, and that ‘things change’.
Aeon Flux is rear, not avant garde, starting with the annoying drone of voice over, it builds to mildly interesting questions of genetics, state control and morality, which are never adequately explored. Aeon Flux ironically is itself a clone that has potential but needs Sin City’s R-rating and the Wachowski Brothers philosophical input before it can grow up.
Directed by Karyn Kusama