Aeon Flux (2005)

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Published on: 2007.05.01

Aeon Flux (2005)
By: Wil C. Fry

The movie was weird. The plot had some holes. The special effects were a little obvious. And, in places, the acting was sub-par. And some of the futuristic “technology” introduced didn’t make any sense or have any explanation. Other than that, Aeon Flux was a decent movie.

The fight scenes were decently done, though you’ve already seen the best parts in the trailers.

The film, written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, stars Charlize Theron in one of her better roles (if you ask me). But that’s coming from a guy who really hasn’t been impressed with her career. I liked Reindeer Games and Devil’s Advocate, but my favorite role of hers was the somewhat minor role in Trial and Error (of course, most critics really aren’t into comedies). In this movie, finally, she’s sexy, intelligent, in control, and well… kind of endearing.

Her character, from which the movie takes its title, is one of several high-tech rebels trying to take down the mysterious Goodchild family, which rules the only city left on Earth — “Bregna.” Apparently, a virus killed 99 percent of the world’s population back in the 21st century, and for 400 years, the Goodchilds have been keeping things under control for the descendants of the survivors. (WARNING: Don’t read ahead if you want to be surprised by the movie). It turns out that the virus also made the people sterile, so the Goodchilds have been secretly cloning each person when they die, which serves to both keep the population stable, and to continue the human race.

Something that’s not explained is how the clones have the memories of their predecessors. Even Aeon has memories of her source body (Katherine), though she was the first clone 400 years after the DNA was stored. Maybe the writers don’t understand what cloning is.

Anyway, Aeon is sent to kill Trevor Goodchild (the sitting Ruler), but finds out that she used to love him in a former life. See what I mean? It’s weird. So she doesn’t kill him. In fact, they team up, becoming targeted both by the rest of the rebels and the new ruler — Trevor’s brother.

It gets a little complicated after that.

Besides Theron, the only other really big name in the movie is Frances McDormand, who’s been in quite a few good movies. But in this one, she’s just “The Handler,” apparently some kind of higher-up in the rebel hierarchy. And she only appears in Aeon’s mind.

For the action freaks, there are gunfights, fistfights, explosions, leaps from tall towers, and cool futuristic weapons. For the romantics, there’s the tenuous love tie between Aeon and Trevor. For film freaks, though, this movie sucks. It doesn’t really present anything new, and in the words of a New York Times review, “It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

In fact, the Times goes on to say, “It’s a movie best appreciated for the costumes, the sets and Ms. Theron’s haughty athleticism… But this world, flooded with colors and chilly effects, is drained of emotional interest, to say nothing of narrative coherence.” That about sums it up.

A few other quotes on the film, from professional reviewers:

“This could have been, maybe, a rich and fascinating invented place to explore and hang out in, but instead it feels like exactly what it is: a bulls**t Hollywood excuse for science fiction.”

“Are you really willing to pay full fare just to see Charlize Theron do backflips in skintight S&M outfits?”
Susan Granger, MODAMAG.COM

“A thoroughly awful and unusually incoherent piece of work.”

“An estrogen-energized companion piece to Michael Bay’s The Island.”
Nicholas Schager, SLANT MAGAZINE

“Folks, I’ll never understand studios. Aeon Flux is not that terrible. It’s certainly more fun than a lot of films that get lovingly showcased.”
David Edelstein, SLATE

“Aeon Flux isn’t about how cool or weird or geeky it can be, but about the potential endgame of a contemporary social debate, and that is its best asset.”

“Both gorgeously surreal and vacuously arty.”

So, as usual, make your own decision.

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