Halle Berry in Catwoman, Jennifer Garner in Elektra, and now Charlize Theron in Aeon Flux. They’re dropping like flies to this wild and crazy genre of female superheroes, a genre which has produced films that are so truly, god awfully bad that one can only gaze into the night sky and hope to see an incoming meteor that will end the agony. There was a time when strong women were great action heroes – see Alien or Terminator 2. What did we do to deserve this?
You see, these films are marketed specifically to the young teenage boy demographic who is just discovering the female species. Charlize Theron in tight black leather for ninety minutes – who wouldn’t want to see that? Well, how about someone who can see her fully nude in The Devil’s Advocate, an infinitely better film than Aeon Flux? Halle Berry – how about Swordfish? Furthermore, is there anyone in this target audience who doesn’t know how to find pictures of naked actresses on the Internet? I’m just being realistic here, folks, because seeing a film just because an actress is scantily clad in a PG-13 kind of way is only feeding the frenzy of these awful films.
Aeon Flux is based upon the anime series of the same name that aired a decade ago on MTV. The show is unseen by me and probably most of the world, and it will stay that way. The story is a howler, but it seems like only the audience is in on the joke. In 2011 most of the world’s population is wiped out by a deadly virus. 400 years later, a lone group of survivors who are living in an enclosed, semi-utopian society named Bregna. The Chairman of the city-state is Trevor Goodchild (Csokas), a scientific genius who created the vaccine for the deadly virus. Aeon Flux (Theron) is part of a rebel group named the Monicans, led by The Handler (McDormand), a woman who looks like the satanic mother of Carrot Top. The Handler dishes up missions to Aeon and her comrades, and it’s not long before Aeon is instructed to kill Goodchild. This is only the tip of the iceberg, however, as government secrets and corruption is soon discovered.
How in the world did talented actors such as Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, and Pete Postlethwaite get roped into this turkey feast? I demand an answer. What’s more mind-boggling is how awful and amateur the acting is across the board. Theron looks not only bored, but embarrassed. She prances and runs in slow motion a lot so we get a good look at her frame, but in scenes where she actually has to speak you can see the wincing in her face. McDormand’s character looks possessed, but I theorize that some real world feelings are evident in this performance. The supporting cast, including the wonderful Sophie Okonedo (she was electric in Hotel Rwanda), are wasted and lost in the vast sea of sludge sliding its way across the screen.
The screenplay by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi is a special specimen. I do reckon that we have new records for most uses of “we must end this,” “we must keep moving,” and “the mission has changed.” That Hay and Manfredi have gone from writing Crazy/Beautiful to this is a disservice to us all. If there is one positive aspect to this film, it is the set design. Surely you have all seen the beautiful stills of Theron grappling to different terrains. The film is nice to look at, and it would have been even more so had it been of the silent variety.
A stunning miscalculation and humiliation for all involved, Aeon Flux is to be avoided at all costs. I usually bypass puns based upon a film’s title, but here I can’t help myself: Aeon Flux is a flux-up of prodigious proportions.
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Length: 90 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence and sexual content.
Theatrical Release: December 2, 2005
Directed by: Karyn Kusama
Written by: Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi. Characters created by Peter Chung.
Cast: Charlize Theron, Marton Csokas, Jonny Lee Miller, Sophie Okonedo, Frances McDormand, Pete Postlethwaite