Aeon Flux
directed by Karyn Kusama
(Paramount, 2005)

With special effects and action superseding characterization, Aeon Flux makes for a fast-paced futuristic trip to the 25th century. There's a definite "cool" factor to the whole thing, what with all sorts of ingenious futuristic gizmos and Charlize Theron's nifty little outfit, and the story, which is not exactly straightforward, does tie everything together in the end.

But this just didn't feel like a complete movie experience to me. This comes partly from the fact that the movie basically drops you into the middle of an unusual story without providing much of a guide map at the start, but it has even more to do with the fact that the characters in this film are rather robotic. The main character, Aeon Flux (Theron), is basically a terrorist, so it's a little hard to sympathize with her early on -- especially since you have no way of judging the government or its leader, Trevor Goodchild (Martin Csokas). When personal feelings do finally work their way into the story, they aren't that dramatic at all. Rather than explore anyone to any great depth, the director just keeps diverting our attention with special effects.

Here's the backdrop for this story: in 2011, some disease wiped out 99 percent of the human population before a scientist was able to find a cure. This scientist basically built a large walled city to house all of those he was able to save -- and no one has been outside the walls in the last four centuries. The Monicans, an underground group of terrorists and assassins, want their freedom (and seem to be the only folks concerned by the fact that random people just keep disappearing out of the blue) and have decided the Goodchild regime has to go. Since Aeon is their top assassin, she is given the task of assassinating Goodchild.

If you're thinking that 25th-century security must surely be better than its modern-day equivalent, think again -- Aeon basically just has to avoid some spiky grass and dart-shooting coconuts (and, if you're wondering, the "bad guys" of the future still can't hit the broad side of a barn). Once she comes face to face with Goodchild, everything changes for reasons she herself really doesn't understand. As if things weren't complicated enough already, you also have a coup d'etat thrown in the mix.

It takes a while for the viewer to find out what is really going on here, as the film is more concerned with showing off fancy special effects and superhuman abilities than in giving us a tightly wound plot. I for one would have liked to get at least a cursory look at this futuristic society and better insight into the main characters. The film's entertaining, and I did enjoy it, but it was more of a snack than the full meal I would have preferred.

by Daniel Jolley
29 July 2006

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