Reviewed by: Todd Patrick
Action Adventure, Science Fiction
1 hr. 35 min.
“The future is flux.”
Producer’s synopsis: “In the 25th century, a rampaging virus has forced the remnants of humanity into the seclusion of a final city. There is great political conflict within, however, and this is the story of an acrobatic assassin, Aeon Flux (pronounced E-ON and played by Theron), whose latest target is the government’s top leader”
I vaguely remember the “Aeon Flux” animated short films that aired on M-TV in the mid-90’s. I recall that Aeon was an “amoral” agent, working only for herself, who routinely dispatched hundreds of enemy soldiers, single-handedly, before dying. (She died at the end of every episode.) She was also in love with a ruthless dictator named Trevor. The cartoons were excessively violent and Aeon was very scantily clad, with bondage and lesbianism also thrown into the mix.
When I first saw the trailer for the “Aeon Flux” movie, it looked much different than the ultra-violent, sexually explicit cartoon I remembered. For starters, Aeon’s costume covers her entire body (almost), and she is played by Oscar-winner Charlize Theron. The action sequences also looked well-done, paying homage to the fast-paced, superhuman acrobatics from the cartoon.
The online rumor-mill had a field day with “Flux”: it wasn’t true to the original series, Theron only did it for the money, she chose to perform her own stunts, which led to a back injury that stopped production for a month, etc. Then Paramount announced that it would not screen “Aeon Flux” for the press. (This usually means the movie is a dud and the studio wants to rake in as much money as possible over opening weekend, before it is trashed by the critics.) Well, I’m happy to say that I found the movie to be a surprisingly good sci-fi adventure.
“Aeon Flux”, the movie, is about the last remaining human city on the planet. In 2011, a virus killed all but 5 million people, who were saved by Trevor Goodchild and moved into the walled city of Bregna. For 400 years, the Goodchilds reigned over Bregna, a walled utopia where life was wonderful, if you didn’t ask any questions about the people who routinely disappeared… and you didn’t mind the occasional strange vision or nightmare.
Aeon is the top operative in the Monican underground, led by The Handler (Frances McDormand), who is trying to discover the truth behind the disappearances and the Goodchild family’s totalitarian regime. For the movie, the character of Aeon is is given a thorough makeover. She is not “an amoral agent working only for herself,” but an underground operative searching for truth. Her sister is killed by the Goodchilds and revenge becomes her guiding principle.
Brothers Trevor and Oren Goodchild (Marton Csokas and Jonny Lee Miller) are the leaders of the Bregnan city-state, who seem to be searching for a cure to the mysterious illness that is plaguing the population. They have ordered that no one ever be allowed outside the city walls, as nature has reclaimed the earth and it is no longer safe. I won’t reveal any more of the movie’s plot, because “Aeon Flux” actually isn’t bad, for a sci-fi/action/mystery blockbuster.
Theron easily carries the weight of the movie as Aeon. She is an amazingly beautiful and talented actress with more than enough intensity and charisma to handle the role of the deadly operative. The danger with actors crossing over into action movies is that they require tremendous athleticism (coordination, flexibility, and strength) and an often grueling training regimen. Theron manages all this and turns in a physically stunning performance (which made me hope she didn’t just do “Aeon Flux” for the money and that there will be more action movies in her future). She performed all her own stunts, even after her injury, and they are quite impressive (although she now includes a stunt-double clause in all her contracts!). She’s very athletic, with the flexibility and strength of a gymnast (she had trampoline training with Cirque du Soleil’s Terry Bartlett).
As a martial artist, I found the hand-to-hand sequences a bit disappointing, but that was due to Karyn Kusama’s jerky camera work. Quick cuts and a jerky camera are usually tricks that are used to hide the lack of coordination/combat skill in actors or the lack of a good fight choreographer. With the budget “Flux” had and Theron’s talent, I’m not sure why they balked on this important aspect of the movie. (The same thing happened with the Jason Bourne movies: The Bourne Identity had fantastic camera work and great fight choreography that showed off Matt Damon’s prowess and athleticism. “The Bourne Supremacy,” the sequel, was a big letdown, with jittery camera work that showed absolutely nothing in the fight scenes.)
“Aeon Flux” has all of the elements needed for a good blockbuster: great actors, an above-average plot, decent stunt work, and some great special effects (including a Monican operative who has had her feet removed and hands grafted onto her ankles, to increase her combat capabilities). Karyn Kusama, the director of “Girlfight”, does a great job of bringing the “Aeon Flux” cartoon to life on the big screen.
There’s not much objectionable material in the movie. As I stated before, it significantly departs from the cartoon and is entertaining, without being amoral or risqué. There is only one sex scene, which is not shown at all, and we only see them lying in bed afterwards. I don’t recall any language, since this is a supposedly utopian society, 400 years in the future.
The only real objection is the violence, of which there is a lot, but it is very cartoonish in nature. There’s not much blood, and all Aeon’s foes are faceless warriors dressed in body armor. (She does snap quite a few necks, but her foes are always men dressed in body armor and helmets, resembling storm troopers from “Star Wars”.) I would not recommend “Flux” for small children (it is PG-13), but I have no issues with teenagers seeing this film (and its themes make for great parent-child conversation about worldviews and about another topical, hot-button issue I can’t name because it’s an important plot twist). “Flux” is on par with the new “Star Wars” films, violence-wise.
“Aeon Flux” has an intriguing plot and brings up some interesting questions about the nature of life and futuristic, utopian societies (which are a favorite topic of sci-fi authors). What I like about good science fiction is that these utopian societies are always rotten at the core. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984 both prove that “none is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks after God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12 ESV). They are written warnings from non-christians that we are not as good as we think we are. So much science-fiction unintentionally points the way to Jesus Christ by showing that no matter how technologically advanced we get, we’re still the same sinful creatures. (I recommend C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy for some fantastic Christian sci-fi.)
“Flux” is a good, fast-paced sci-fi adventure, but it’s important to remember that Paul tells us: Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Romans 12:19 ESV). Vengeance is almost always the primary motivating factor in action movies. Even though Aeon prevails and eventually ushers her captive society into a new age, her primary motivation for doing so was vengeance for her sister’s death.
“Aeon Flux” is an enjoyable futuristic action tale (with a good mystery behind it) for mature teens and adults who are not deterred by violence.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
Year of Release—2005 / USA release: December 2, 2005 (wide)