AEON FLUX

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis


A genuine conundrum.  I didn’t feel much like seeing “Aeon Flux,”  a movie that unfolds – very slowly - four centuries down the road and is therefore burdened with the problem of not knowing what it’s talking about (that kind of thing upsets literal minded people).  We all know that it’s hard enough to figure out what happened at the Gulf of Tonkin, for instance, without having to postulate about the year 2400. 

                But I did go.  I went because Charlize Theron is an intelligent actress who makes eccentric choices.  After shining in the “The Cider House Rules” and winning an Oscar for “Monster,” she could have accepted a predictable stream of best actress type parts.  She didn’t, and I was curious about this choice, especially after most of the opening reviews labeled Flux “the worst movie of the year.”  I don’t think so.

                First, the premise, which you have to admit, is apt.  All but 5 million people on earth have been erased by a devastating virus.  Trevor Goodchild (Marton Csokas,), chairman of the new world, has built a wall around the survivors.  Within, is a perfect society controlled by Trevor and his brother Oren; outside,  Nature is reclaiming the earth.  Aeon Flux (Charlize Theron), raging at the controlled sterility of her surroundings, is a fighter in the resistance, a Monican.  Director Karen Kusama has dressed the acceptors in white, the resistors in black and deposited them all in a supremely fascinating imagining of future architecture.  The buildings, the beribboned satellite, the mechanisms that make everything work have sprung from someone’s fertile imagination to the computer to the actors who play in it.  The safe world of Trevor Goodchild is beautiful, a kind of walled in Central Park imagined for the 25th century.

                Here comes the good part:  as the movie wends it way, far too slowly, through this land of the future, its creators decide to explore some of the big questions that face us today and promise to rule tomorrow.  While Charlize Theron, in the manner of an Olympic gymnast, flips her way over the landscape in search of her target, the script manages, somehow, to get us thinking about fascism, betrayal, national security, secrecy, and about cloning and the human soul.  Whoever decided to dress the moral dilemmas of our day in the clothes of an action hero movie is a risk taker.  The movie is part spoof, part serious – a cartoon almost, of assassination, war, rebellion, and architectural beauty. 

You will have to decide for yourself whether to risk two hours in a movie that often seems not to know what it is doing.  There is also a strong possibility that you might be intolerably bored.  Whenever the filmmakers reach wit’s end, they repeat themselves.  But if you come out pondering the soul of the human clone, you may be one up on the general population.  Is this movie an embarrassment, or is it cool?  It’s cool, maybe embarrassingly so.

 


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