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Aeon Flux
Reviewed by Navin Vembar, © 2005

Format: Movie
By:   Karyn Kusama (director)
Genre:   Sci-Fi
Released:   December 2, 2005
Review Date:   December 06, 2005
Audience Rating:   PG-13
RevSF Rating:   4/10 (What Is This?)

The best thing about the post-apocalyptic government in Aeon Flux is that they apparently shop at the 25th-century equivalent of Crate & Barrel. Though their sense of clothing is lacking, sometimes reminiscent of beekeeper's suits or a purse worn as a dress (the latter of which was prominently featured in the trailer), it is nice to see that the scientific laboratories of the far-future city of Bregna employ the blandly attractive glassware of our current mega-chain stores.

If it is not obvious by my first paragraph, I left Aeon Flux with very little by way of impressions or feelings about the movie itself. Or rather, my thoughts were more along the lines of "Huh?". Charlize Theron takes on the title role made cult-famous by the MTV cartoon. Though I did watch the show, I remember very little of it except for the startling credits sequence, duly replicated in live action, of the fly being caught in Aeon's eyelashes and the titillating, to my 14-year old mind, lack of clothing. Luckily I still have that 14-year old mentality, so I was occasionally entertained while watching Aeon Flux.

Bregna, a utopian city by way of A Brave New World, is the last refuge of five million remaining humans, the rest of whom were wiped out in a plague in 2011. The city, surrounded by a wall designed to keep out the rest of the world that "nature has taken over," is led with an authoritarian fist by the Goodchilds, Trevor (Marton Csokas) and Oren (Jonny Lee Miller). They are the progeny of the family that found the cure for the "industrial disease" of those centuries past. Aeon is part of a group known as Monokins, revolutionary assassins trained to fight the Goodchilds. As with all movies riddled with cliches, Aeon must have her mission made personal, in this case by the government-sanctioned murder of her sister Una. She is given an assignment to kill Trevor, who we know is not going to be the real antagonist through broadly-telegraphed "subtle" hints. Of course, she does not kill him and of course, she does kiss him.

It is emblematic of the movie's problems that I sincerely could not decide if Una and Aeon were sisters or lovers until very late in the movie. Throughout, characters would appear out of nowhere and suddenly be important or, more often, would present Aeon with her next charmless fight scene. In fact, the structure of Aeon Flux is more video game than film — fight, cut-scene, fight, cut-scene, annoying escort mission, cut-scene. The logical gaps were so glaring as to completely prevent any suspension of disbelief.

The whole movie was a blend of trying too hard and failed "won't that be cool" moments. The set designer was apparently told"We don't want to be all dirty like those other post-apocalyptic movies," so the scenes were filled with clean whites and poorly done faux-organic items like the trees that are actually sentry guns. The self-conscious camera lingers on a piece of fruit being cut just because someone had spent time to make a fake-looking fruit with seeds. The romantic (or, if I were to be accurate, "romantic") subplot is resolved with scenery-chewing angst. The technology and spyware is more about looking cool than making sense. I mean, of what real use is replacing your feet with hands, as Aeon's fellow Monokin Sithandra (Sophie Okenedo) did? Apparently none, since they are pretty much unused throughout the film except in the moment they are introduced.

I left the movie with so many questions, and not in the contemplative Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind way. Why are so many good actresses — Theron, Okenedo (Hotel Rwanda), Frances McDormand (Fargo) — in this movie? If you have a field of grass that serves as a security system, why put oases of decorative stone walls in the middle of it? Isn't that just begging for problems? How do the Goodchild brothers get into the flagella-sporting blimp they call the Receptacle?

And is it possible to be any less subtly symbolic than to break down the actual, physical, wall between nature and the city?

RevSF contributor Navin Vembar has been fantasizing stop fantasizing about Charlize Theron. Not Charlize Theron from Aeon Flux, mind you, but Charlize Theron from Arrested Development.

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