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"Aeon Flux"

Directed by Karyn Kusama ("Girlfight").
Written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi.  Based on characters created by Peter Chung.
Starring Charlize Theron, Marton Csokas, Jonny Lee Miller and Sophie Okonedo.
Release Year:  2005
Review Date:  12/5/05

Folks--

Even when I saw the first trailer for the new sci-fi action film "Aeon Flux", I knew there was a 100% chance that this would not be as good, as cool, or as action-packed as the MTV short films that aired a while back.  But, I had to see it, because Hard Vice beckoned, and whenever she beckons I like to answer the call.

The sport of watching too many movies--and, if any crew is as good as Rob "Jellybean" Grant, Chuck "Chuck" Longer and myself at watching too many flicks, I don't know of it--is a great one, so I knew that the pieces were in place to enjoy watching a film that could be bad because I had the right people cracking jokes nearby just when our selection went down the shitter.  We added a rookie to the team, Rob's work buddy Heather, and the four of us feasted mightily during the fly-by-night thriller.

In a future 400 years from now where 99% of the world's population has been killed off by an industrial disease, the remaining population lives in the lovely city of Bregna, a town of five million that has its good and evil powers struggling to keep/take control of the city.  The good, a resistance team led by a strange Oracle-like presence called the Handler (Frances McDormand), makes guerilla hits all over the city in an attempt to take down the city's current leader, Trevor Goodchild (Marton Csokas, the bad guy from "xXx").  The number one agent of the resistance, Aeon Flux (Charlize Theron), is sent in to infiltrate the base of the government in an attempt to take out Goodchild; things go wrong, which gives us the rest of our movie.

To be sure, the four of us are agreed: this movie is not good.  As much as I want to say that it is awful, "Aeon Flux" does have a couple of cool moments, mostly due to violence or bad deaths.  For a PG-13 film, this one is fairly violent.  Also, I think the soundtrack isn't too bad; generic, but it keeps things moving briskly whenever Aeon is getting shot at.

Otherwise, this is dogshit...but, the great thing about the combination of bad movies and this team of professionals is that even during the rough times, there is PLENTY to laugh at.  Sometimes, Longer is in rare form (hence, its rarity) and luckily this past Sunday was one of those days.  He was dropping dimes all over the table, making fun of silly costumes (none worse than the getup that thespian Pete Postlethwaite has to wear as The Keeper, a 400-year-old man living in a fucking blimp), bad lines, horrible child acting, and predictable innocent death sequences.  I was calling out good guy deaths myself, but not with the same je ne sais pas that Longer was.

"Aeon Flux" suffers for horrible direction throughout; actors play out scenes that should mean something (Flux gets shot, we get a reaction shot of her blank stare; characters losing loved ones naturally do the Scream-to-the-Sky) as if they were acting out scenes from a playbook.  Dialogue rhythms feel incorrect; illogical-even-for-fantasy action sequences often feature Aeon getting the chance to take out multiple baddies in a row without them ever throwing a punch or taking a shot at her.  In the penultimate sequence of the film, Aeon takes time out to gun down about a hundred bad guys from a strategically awful position and I don't think a single bad guy got off a shot, despite the fact that they had an elevated position and, well...THERE WERE A FUCKING HUNDRED OF THEM!!!  Now, granted, she did have sniper cover from about a hundred yards up, which made it even funnier when the bad guys were picking the sniper cover off (with machine guns, no less) from their position below the snipers.  But still...logically, even for a fantasy film, some of these scenes were awful.

Oscar nominee Sophie Okonedo, so brilliant in "Hotel Rwanda", plays a four-handed resistance member (trust me, it's worse when you see this character for yourself) that is almost completely wasted in this film.  You've got former Oscar winner McDormand (for her work in "Fargo" many moons ago), you've got former Oscar nominee Postlethwaite (for "In the Name of the Father")...all are wasted in this movie.  It's strange to have four Oscar-nominated performers in your film (Theron just won a couple years ago for "Monster") and have the acting be so poor, but again, you look at the direction here and it is shoddy work.

"Aeon Flux" is bad, make no mistake, but it's funny bad, and shamefully, it is worth watching if you like bad flicks.  The movie is so ridiculous that you WILL laugh throughout, and it's only 90 minutes long, so the agony is not prolonged.  And, it even looks like we won't get a sequel.  You can't beat that!!

Rating:  Rental

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09