266 – Aeon Flux

99% of humanity has been wiped out by a virus; now, 400 years later, some five million people live in the only remaining city on the planet, headed by the benevolent Goodchild family. A band of rebels, wishing to overthrow the Goodchild dynasty, sends an assassin named Aeon Flux (Charlize Theron) to kill Trevor Goodchild (Marton Csokas). But Aeon finds that things are a little more complicated than as first surmised. Turns out there are mysterious things afoot, and when Aeon learns this, the rules and her mission change dramatically.

Superstylish and straightforward, the movie is an extension of an old MTV animated short. It’s a lot of fun to watch, and even the plot isn’t boggy or otherwise incomprehensible. And that’s saying something, because so often these movies tend to have some kind of intentionally murky plot, the better to distract people from the fact that it’s badly written. This film doesn’t quite perform that little parlor trick; in fact, even though the special effects are the main attraction, the storyline does stand up to close scrutiny.

Theron, as usual, is fantastic; she brings spirit and panache to a role that would have been much less effective with a straight-ahead action femme. She comes across to the viewer as commanding, strong, and mentally and physically tough. In short, an outstanding performance by a wonderful actress.

She doesn’t get much in the way of support, but it’s not really because the other actors aren’t as talented; the film is, after all, called Aeon Flux for a reason. Csokas and Jonny Lee Miller as Trevor’s brother are both a grade or so better than bland. They’re not particularly colorful characters. Sophie Okonedo, as Flux’s compatriot Sithandra, fares a little better, but her role is even smaller.

The visual effects in the film are a real delight, particularly the land around the inner part of the city, where the reigning family lives; there’s supersharp grass, trees that fire upon intruders, and so on. Inventive, even mesmerizing, each scene is brilliantly woven with the next, creating a tapestry of oh-my-goodness images.

(Side note: The group for which Aeon works is called the Monicans. Now, that can’t be related to American pop-political culture, can it?)

At any rate, I found it all to be pretty enjoyable. There’s a bit more to the plot than I’ve revealed here, but you don’t expect me to give away any secrets, do you?

Aeon Flux: ***

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