Aeon Flux is a 2005 film directed by Karyn Kusama and starring Charlize Theron. Let me say straight away that I haven’t seen the Peter Chung animated series on which the film is based and which aired on MTV from 1991 to 1995. The MTV signal didn’t reach my house so I missed all the cool things that aired in the nineties. I’m saying this because what you will read about the film is based solely on what the film itself communicated to me. And, let me tell you, it’s not much…
Here’s the plot: some introductory explanations inform us that in 2011 a virus killed 99% of the world population (fortunately Covid-19 was not so efficient). 400 years later, the five million people left are living in a stronghold called Bregna surrounded by a world where nature is thriving. Only one family (the Goodchild) has reigned for all these years and there are rebels who want to take power, the Monicans, since the regime is dictatorial and many people have recently disappeared without a trace.
Then we get acquainted with the protagonist, Aeon (Charlize Theron), who is herself a Monican and performs incredible missions having extraordinary athletic skills. Soon after, here’s the mission she was waiting for: to kill President Trevor Goodchild (Marton Csokas). Will she succeed?
Here’s one of the issues I have with this movie: all these things are told to us the viewers in two minutes but could have been introduced in a much more interesting way by showing things on screen, rather than with some cold exposition. So, the world is neither presented nor well developed, and the characters are also bidimensional. Take Aeon’s sister Una (Amelia Warner): we see her in a scene talking with Aeon (one of the least inspired and worst acted dialogues I’ve seen recently) before tragically dying to provide some motivation for the protagonist. But the tragedy happens before we know anything about either Aeon or Una! There’s no emotional attachment this way.
Unfortunately, this narrative problem pervades the whole film that goes on between dialogues that want to seem mysterious but are only boring, and badly shot action scenes. Why do I use the term badly? Bad to me is having a thousand quick cuts that prevent any understanding of what’s going on, with actors who are clearly incapable of any noteworthy stunt, and accompanied by ridiculous sounds that look like something out of a Looney Tunes cartoon (Swish! Swoosh!).
And all ends up in an inevitable explanation in the middle of the film that clarifies what’s going on in Bregna. The strength of the revelation is almost zero because Bregna’s life hasn’t been shown, neither the screenwriters (Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi) nor the director have tried to give substance to the story. But how can we expect the world and the secondary characters to be interesting when even the main characters aren’t? The various Freya (Caroline Chikezie) and Sithandra (Sophie Okonedo), not to mention many other useless names, are characters whose motivations or backgrounds remain unknown throughout the movie. In short, there’s nothing exciting about Aeon Flux, which manages to be cumbersome, slow and repetitive even with its only 90 minutes of duration.
And this is not to say that the idea behind the story wasn’t promising, on the contrary, it deals with the purpose of life and even with revolution (with a final message that seems to me to be taken from the graphic novel of Nausicaa by Hayao Miyazaki: we need to subvert the existing and preconceived order to be able to move forward). Despite that, it’s hard to get excited with this movie, unfortunately. I don’t recommend watching it to anyone, especially as the 2005 digital special effects haven’t aged well at all… ciao!