Moon Unit Zappa Vs. Trevor.
I have seen a lot of terrible movies in my time. And to be fair, a lot of them have been worse that this. But I don’t think I have ever, ever, seen a movie that started to suck so immediately as Aeon Flux. Within seconds of the opening crawl explaining the back-story, the film was bad. It couldn’t have been worse if they’d misspelled words, and then they does, because the title card comes up and they can’t spell ‘Eon’. The typed exposition seemed like a short story written for a grade 11 English unit on science fiction, or something a video-game programmer would come up with in a Ubisoft pitch meeting. And things rapidly go downhill from there, as we plunge into a futuristic technocratic utopia that, shockingly, turns out to be rotten beneath its glossy, heavily art-designed surface, like the small town in every single David Lynch movie.
Nothing in this movie makes any sense. People say that that doesn’t matter, because Charlize Theron wears leather, but to that I would respond, simply, “Catwoman”. The story is weak, and it’s not because I’m missing something. The plot is simple enough, following Aeon Flux, a rebel intent on bringing down the government of Trevor Goodchild, head of a family that has ruled the sole surviving city on earth for 400 years. Trevor’s rule is apparently based on the fact that he’s the only person in the whole godforsaken city who isn’t named Aeon or Oren or Sithandra or Apple or something else picked from a list of the top 100 gayest names of celebrity children. Along the way, she discovers that not all is as it seems, and there’s a lot of cloning and thin parables to Buddhism going on. The problem is that story elements are included in the film baselessly; people do things for no reason, gadgets exist to look cool. The villain in the film is Oren Goodchild, played by Johnny Lee Miller. Oren is evil because he does not want things to change, and he does not want things to change because he is evil. It’s the same kind of circular logic that gets creationism taught in schools, only with more eastern mysticism thrown in the mix to trump The Matrix. In addition, plenty of the elaborate set-pieces indicate that technology in the future has long since passed the point of being functional, and into a world where bio-organic death-traps guard secure zones, but there are no alarms, and a prison which has alarms as well as elaborate communication and surveillance systems, but they don’t bother to search the inmates. For god’s sake, she hid some stuff in her shoe. Her shoe! And I’m not alone on this. Internal consistency be damned! There are fight scenes! Horrible, horrible fight scenes!
Director Karyn Kusama’s sole other credit is Girlfight, a film whose sole claim to fame is making Michele Rodriguez rich enough to drunk drive in very fast cars. She seems intent on proving that women can fight, but she should probably focusing on proving that women can direct. Stupid script and poor performances aside, a film like Aeon Flux can be salvaged by its action scenes, provided, however, you don’t present them in poorly edited close-ups that end up looking like a first year film school Final Cut Pro exercise, where you try to make a kung-fu movie out of stock footage from the NFB. Simple editing rules like the 180 degree line are broken frequently, making for fight scenes that have all the cohesion of trying to watch porno through scrambled pay-per-view channels. And for those who would argue that the only reason for seeing this film is Charlize Theron in skimpy clothing, I would suggest that you buy a de-scrambler and get on with your life.