Saturday 24 August 2013

Film: Aeon Flux (2005)

Aeon Flux kept cropping up on TV with some rather lukewarm reviews but I finally decided to watch it and make up my own mind. It is set in a future in which all but five million people had perished in a world-wide plague some four hundred years before. The survivors had been gathered together in one city, walled off from the rest of the world, and ruled by the hereditary Goodchild family who had originally developed the vaccine that had saved the survivors. Life was generally good for the inhabitants but, as always, there were some who were determined to overthrow the Goodchilds' rule. Aeon Flux, played by Charlize Theron, is a member of the resistance movement and their most accomplished agent. The film focuses on her story as she tries to break the domination of the Goodchilds.

At first I found the film rather unpromising, as the characters and the combat action were so stylised and unrealistic that it was like watching an animated comic strip. So I wasn't too surprised when I checked on it afterwards to find that the original inspiration was indeed a comic strip. Apart from some futuristic settings, Theron is really all that makes this part worth watching (she looks terrific as the black-clad black-haired agent). I must admit I was impressed to read that she had been injured during the making of the film while performing a series of back handsprings as part of a stunt routine – not something you'd see many Hollywood A-listers attempt, I suspect.

The second half of the film is much better than the first, as the plot becomes increasingly complex with unexpected twists and turns and some interesting SF ideas, and it becomes clear that the situation is not at all as it had seemed, on several levels. The conclusion is appropriate and satisfying. I couldn't help reflecting that the film, without any plot or even major script changes, could have been made entirely differently by ditching the comic strip elements in favour of more realistic characters and action in the Gattaca style, and it could then have been a really good SF film dealing with some serious themes – an approach I would have preferred.

The film was a commercial failure, which doesn't surprise me, but if you can get past the beginning the second half makes it worth watching. As does Theron!

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