Looking for a good movie for Friday night? Something that will keep you on the edge of your seat with adventure? Leave you thinking for days with its insight into human character? Skip Aeon Flux, then; as hard as MTV studios tries, something about this movie falls tragically short.
Aeon Flux possesses all of the problems of a comic book turned movie, but without the redeeming features of ever having been a comic in the first place. Originally a cartoon series on MTV, Aeon Flux would go through every episode leading a new life, dying at the end, and maintaining the continuity of the world in which she lived. This doesn’t carry over well into film, and leaves you wondering whether it goes on far too long or not nearly long enough, and the movie comes off feeling heavy-handed and rushed.
Thematic elements also don’t translate well-we should see in Aeon a sort of superhero, using her gifts as she strikes back against an oppressive empire guilty of crimes that we can only imagine. Instead, we get, for all intents and purposes a confused little girl trying to figure out her place in the world while parading around in a body far too mature for the emotions with which she wrestles.
In fairness, Aeon Flux has some awfully big shoes to fill, and it’s perhaps a bit much to expect MTV studios to come up with their own version of truly insightful sci-fi films, like Equilibrium, Serenity, or The Matrix series. Charlize Theron, after all, lacks the status of other actors in her genre who actually pull off their films, though the mediocrity of this film cannot be blamed entirely on her weak and rather apathetic performance.
The best part of Aeon Flux is the pair of movie veterans who offer us new and unusual roles. While playing the proverbial Bad Boy is nothing new to Johnny Lee Miller, who summed up the role with Trainspotting’s Sick Boy and Hackers’ Dade Murphy, there’s something very different about his character in Aeon Flux, Oren Goodchild. Oh, right, it’s that he’s not just bad… he’s out and out evil. Likewise, we see Frances McDormand tackle a role as the overseer of the rebellion, who comes off far more involved emotionally than her previous characters.
These two actors alone could have carried the film by themselves, and would have refreshed audiences and fans with the novelty of their roles, except for one thing-the supporting characters in this film suffer severely from a lack of depth. Sure, Oren Goodchild is evil, but we really never know why, or establish any set parameters for what makes him evil-we’re just informed through film that he is, and we’re expected to accept it. McDormand’s Handler is equally vague; at no point in the film are we truly given any indication of where her loyalties lie, or who she is as a person. The utter waste of two screen veterans makes Aeon Flux a bit disappointing in terms of the acting that’s done.
The film makes bold attempts at seriousness and perhaps extends itself too far. If it had stuck to action sequences without trying to move the audience (in the vein of Resident Evil and Tomb Raider), it might have worked a good deal better. Ultimately, Aeon Flux makes you feel like you’re talking to one of those people who uses big words for effect without really having any idea what they mean. You want to like it, really, you want to believe that it has the potential to live up to all of its lofty ideals, but you know in the back of your mind that it falls dreadfully short. It attempts to tell a story so philosophically beyond itself that it comes off feeling empty and pedantic. It isn’t horrible – but it isn’t good, either.