Monday, December 05, 2005

Aeon Flops...Sort of

If only every action film could echo the best film of the summer (and what is shaping up to perhaps be the best film of the year) Transporter 2. It seems that most films have become mere vehicles for whatever heavy handed message the studio decides to affix to it. Nothing can just be anymore, it has to have a purpose. Transporter 2 was the exception. It was guns, bikinis, explosions, Jason Stratham, sexy cars, more explosions, Jason Stratham. What ends up ruining films like Aeon Flux is its inability to just submit to its purpose, and really, the purpose of an action film is... anyone? anyone? ACTION. When these films become conveyers of ideology then we know somethings fishy.

For the first two thirds, Flux resists explanation, instead going for the surreal ambiguity of the late night cartoon on which it is based. This does and does not work. The film is incredibly disjointed. Scenes and sometimes even shots don't link up to those following. The exposition is poorly executed (and really, the exciting thing about the Aeon Flux cartoon was that we did not know the reasons for Flux's labors) giving Flux the weepy raison d'etre that is awarded any typical action figure (here it is avenge sister's death). Soon she is backflipping and dropkicking her way into the Goodchild fortress in an assassination attempt on the reigning Chairman Goodchild. The structural problem with crafting the film around a single mission is the fact that we never see Flux do her thang successfully. We hear she is the best in the business, but the first real mission we see her attempt is forfeited to her emotions. With this limited view of her, all credibility of her expertise is blown away (if you will).

The other factor stacked against Aeon Flux the movie is the context in which it is viewed. Where one would happen upon the original Aeon Flux on Liquid T.V. late at night, the transfer of the dark and odd cartoon to the mainstream film -starring Charlize Theron of all people - loses something in translation. There are scenes, particularly in the beginning of the film, where the production designers seem too wrapped up in being weird. The first outfit we see Flux in is completely ridiculous, but once the action starts, then the real fun begins (sort of). Even these scenes (a particularly harrowing scene shows Flux and Hands-for-feet Zathandra flipping through a garden with razor grass and shooting trees) are hit or miss -literally shot by shot.

Now where Transporter 2 celebrated cars and explosion, Flux eventually reveals its motives as an anti-cloning film. Man must not tamper with nature. Man must be at the mercy of nature, because as Flux earnestly exclaims "dying is what make give us purpose," or something like that. And haven't we heard this time and time again. I mean, couldn't they have figured out some weird heavy handed message that we haven't heard before - or at least a million times. When Flux's surrealism isn't laughable, it's quite rewarding, but none of it can save the weighted ending from being laughable. Humanizing Flux makes the style less potent. Meanwhile, the humanity, or rather mortality of the original character made the show completely riveting. Flux could die. That was the thrill. Here though, as the film comes to it cataclysmic close, no matter what happens, you know that Theron (not Aeon) will stand up, brush the dirt off of her not-quite-lingerie and raise her head in pride, knowing that she has saved the day.

Just as a little post script, Frances McDormand's hillariously absent role as Handler is rather noteworthy - delivering her lines as if off of cue cards and never, not even once, does she move - not even her neck - the entire movie.


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3:50 PM  

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