|Aeon Flux (2005)
Starring: Charlize Theron, Martin Csokas, Frances McDormand, Sophie Okonedo, Jonny Lee Miller
Director: Karyn Kusama
ALSO! Check out where it ranked in our 2005 Year in Review.
Those of you who frequent our Coming Soon pages may recall that the official Bullz-Eye stance on “Aeon Flux” was that we were concerned at first about this movie, but after seeing the trailer, concluded that the movie could be a lot better than we thought it would be. By ‘we,’ I really mean me, since I write all of those bits. And I’m not too proud to admit that I couldn’t have been more wrong. “Aeon Flux” is the most unintentionally funny movie I have seen all year, the kind of movie where sexy assassins sleep in bikini type outfits that show a healthy majority of their breasts and couldn’t possibly be comfortable to sleep in. How they convinced two Oscar-winning actresses and one Oscar nominated actor to appear in it defies logic, though I’m guessing it had something to do with condos in Vail.
The setting is 400 years in the future, and Charlize Theron plays the title character, an assassin for a rebel movement called the Monicans. The world’s entire population lives in Bregna, the only (walled) city left on earth after a virus took out 99% of mankind. The government is a police state ruled by mankind's savior Trevor Goodchild (Martin Csokas), a scientist who created a vaccine to the virus. Still, citizens disappear at random, never to be seen again. The Monicans want to take out Goodchild, and the Monican’s Handler (Frances McDormand, with hair that simply has to be seen to be believed) assigns Flux to do the job. Complications arise when Flux gets in perfect position to take Trevor out, and inexplicably cannot pull the trigger. This makes her an enemy of both the Monicans and the Bregna government, and since Trevor’s little brother Oren (Jonny Lee Miller) is hatching a power play of his own to take over the Goodchild empire, Aeon and Trevor must band together to stay alive and discover What Is Really Going On.
The unintentional funny comes from a couple angles. The dialogue is a textbook example for future generations on how not to use exposition – when one brother talks to another brother about how they’re brothers, you’ve clearly done something wrong – and the comatose delivery of the dialogue by all parties only underlines this point. I was reminded of “Team America: World Police,” the brilliant but flawed movie from Trey Parker and Matt Stone that, hello, was a satire of bad action movies. All the more puzzling, then, that the movie’s director is Karyn Kusama, who made the much-loved “Girlfight” but seems to be completely out of her element here. In retrospect, it is not without irony that “Aeon Flux” contains one big-ass girl fight that involves a move on Theron’s part that made the person sitting next to me (BE critic Jason Zingale, if you’re curious) squirm in his seat. This is easily one of the bloodiest PG-13 movies ever, giving Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” movies a run for their money.
I see your question coming down Broadway: if the movie’s truly this awful, then why give it even one star? There are two reasons, actually. For starters, for a movie to earn less than one star, it has to make me angry, like “Brothers Grimm.” For as bad as “Aeon Flux” was, doggone it, it made me laugh, a lot. The other reason is that it takes one hell of a lot to make me say bad things about Charlize Theron. Is this a bad movie? Absolutely. Was Theron good in it? No better or worse than anyone else (I’ve spared Pete Postlethwaite up to this point, but even he comes out of this tainted). And who knows, maybe doing this movie was a calculated move on Theron’s part. Halle Berry did “Catwoman,” and now no one expects anything of her. Maybe this is Theron’s way of lowering her stock so that she can truly surprise us again, like she did with “Monster.” Not a bad idea in theory, but surely there was a better project in some studio’s pipeline than this one. Joss Whedon’s “Wonder Woman,” perhaps?
The single-disc DVD release of "Aeon Flux" doesn't offer much outside of an amazing film (just kidding), but it does include five production featurettes and a commentary track with Charlize Theron.