Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Aeon Flux

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence and sexual content

Reviewed by: Todd Patrick
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens, Adults
Genre:
Action Adventure, Science Fiction
Length:
1 hr. 35 min.
Featuring: Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Marton Csokas, Jonny Lee Miller, Pete Postlethwaite
Director: Karyn Kusama
Producer: David Gale, Gregory Goodman, Gale Anne Hurd / MTV Productions
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Paramount Pictures

Cloning: Right or Wrong?

DEATH—How did bad things come to be on our Earth? Answer

The world is full of pain and death. What kind of world would you create? What kind of world should God have created? Answer

“The future is flux.”

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “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)


Viewer Comments
Positive
Positive—This was a really good movie. It’s rather unfortunate it didn’t make it big. It was watered down from the animated version, which is a VERY good thing. I saw a comment about the costumes, and with the exception of her sleeping “gown,” I don’t see a problem with the costumes. They’re not overtly sexual. The sleeping gown is a nod to the fashions in the original, and that’s the only real bad costume. I like the explanation for her attraction to Trevor, even though I disagree at one level because I believe that God makes souls and who you are isn’t just about DNA. This was not the typical “sexy assassin” movie; there was actually a story, and the sexuality in the trailers was really the extent of it. I think Sci-fi loving Christians should be perfectly fine picking this one up on DVD.
My Ratings: Average / 4
—Luke, age 23
Neutral
Neutral—Usually, my mom and I enjoy watching movies that are like “Aeon Flux.” We never got the chance to see it in theaters, so we decided to rent it. “Aeon Flux” was a waste of money and our time. There was a bedroom scene, and she wore only strips of cloth to cover herself in bed. …Her stunts seemed fake. I would not recommend this movie due to the acting and some of the scenes.
My Ratings: Average / 2
—Annie White, age 23
Neutral—“Aeon Flux” the identity, if truly a clone of 400 year previous incarnation of “Katherine Goodchild,” would not have had the personality and sheer force of will to wreak the violent havoc that the current personality displayed. It was a great story of good winning over evil, but needed much more work to make the point with the requisite action, but without the hostility, anger, and blatant destruction.
My Ratings: Average / 5
—Ecbatana Eagleturtle, age 59
Negative
Negative—The problem that I had with this film is it’s view of death. The main character makes many comments about the role of death in life. The movie takes the all to prevalent viewpoint that death is natural, and is okay when it comes at the end of a life. It falls far short of a biblical understanding that death comes from sin, was not part of his original creation, and God wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of truth. God wants us to have more than a long life and a peaceful death. He wants us to spend eternity with him in heaven.
My Ratings: Offensive / 3½
—David Endorf, age 28
Negative—The movie was horrible… Hollywood gone to the dogs with everything; the plot was boring, and it very unnecessary to have those sex scenes in there, I was disgusted, so was my fiance.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 5
—Karen B., age 26
Negative—“Aeon Flux,” like “Ultraviolet” was a disappointing waste of time.
My Ratings: Offensive / 3
—DW Murray, age 48
Comments from young people
Positive—I really liked the movie overall. I don’t go to the movies very often and in general, I “despise” sci-fi movies. However, I found this movie to be quite enjoyable. The only thing that I didn’t like about the movie is how Aeon was trying to take revenge for her sister and was willing to murder for it. We, as Christians, are supposed to leave revenge to the Lord. Yes, many people will probably be complaining about the violence but there wasn’t much blood.
My Ratings: Offensive / 4
—David, age 13
Negative—Watching the trailer, I saw how cool the movie was made. But I just could NOT ignore the clothing the women wear. Its VERY insulting and disturbing! People might argue that it is appropriate for such a film with a lot of movement, but its not! I’m tired of seeing women disrespecting themselves in such a manner. Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Sprit and we are an image of God; so we must strive to be like Him.

And so this is the main reason why I will not see this movie. Read books about modesty and even ask God if He would want you wearing such offensive clothes. When we see something that Jesus would not approve, we DON’T ignore it and say everything’s ok, we realize this as wrong and do not accept it! …think about the virtue of Modesty.
My Ratings: Offensive / 3½
—Christy, age 17
Neutral—Disgust. That’s my first reaction to the movie right from the start—with the use of french-kissing (overly exaggerated) in order to transport a pill Aeon must swallow. I was particularly disgusted at the way Aeon was dressed when awaking from sleep, particularly the strips of material she was wearing that she calls pajamas. However, if you like sci-fi, action and drama, then I recommend this movie. Overall, the movie was okay, not the best movie that I have seen though.
My Ratings: Offensive / 4
—Eva Olvera, age 17
Positive—I really wasn’t expecting too much out of “Aeon Flux,” and I was at first reluctant to see it when I read about the cartoon it was based on. Fortunately, like the reviewer stated, it departs from that cartoon. Unlike the cartoon, this movie doesn’t have an amoral worldview, but it falls short of a truly good moral worldview. It takes a stand against cloning, but it isn’t exactly a strong stand and it is never explained why they take the stand. The people prefer to live once and then die because apparently our lives only have meaning if we can die (a strange view of things considering meaning is only found when one accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior). The worldview of this movie isn’t amoral, but neither is it truly a good moral one.

As far as quality goes, the movie is surprisingly great. The action sequences are done quite well (though not as well as those of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) and Charlize Theron’s athleticism is shown well in some of them. Speaking of Theron, she turns in a great performance as usual as Aeon Flux.

Most issues of concern in this movie are strictly sexual in nature (there is no profanity and the violence is almost cartoonish). Most of the outfits Theron wears cover her body pretty well except for one outfit she wears when she wakes up, which is pretty skimpy. There is one scene where sex between the two main characters is implied (they were a married couple at one time, but they aren’t now, and so there is no excuse for having extramarital sex). Before all of this, there is an open-mouthed tongue-and-all kiss between an unknown male character and Aeon (it is done strictly to pass a pill that Aeon needs to take, but it could have been done another way). That is pretty much all of the sexual content in the movie.

Overall, this was a surprisingly good movie with a worldview that isn’t amoral, but isn’t exactly a Christian one either (God and Christ are never mentioned). I don’t exactly highly recommend it, but neither can I really say to avoid this movie.
My Ratings: Average / 3
—Ross, age 16
Movie Critics
…a moral stand against cloning is taken but it lacks force… All in all, THE ISLAND is a much more entertaining movie…
—Movieguide