I caught the 2:40 p.m. matinee on a Saturday, and about halfway through I began to wonder whether someone had spiked my coffee with a foreign substance. It’s heartening that the studio machinery hasn’t totally squeezed out the bizarre vision behind the film and flattened it into the easily digested products that fill the multiplexes.
That’s not to say “Aeon Flux” is good. But director Karyn Kusama (“Girlfight”) conjures up enough surreal, geometric structure-filled imagery that keeps your attention when the rote fight scenes don’t.
The movie is based on the animated series that Peter Chung made for MTV in the early 1990s. While the film attempts to impose more of a discernible narrative onto its stylized visuals, it doesn’t make much more sense.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Most sci-fi film ideas come off as so hackneyed these days that perhaps it’s best that this film’s narrative was only partly comprehensible to this reviewer. The movie features too many bad outfits, goofy hairstyles and redundant scenes of Charlize Theron breaking soldiers’ necks while doing black flips to be taken that seriously anyway.
Tipping its hat to the animated series, “Aeon Flux” opens with Theron’s character trapping a fly between her eyelashes, which resemble Venus fly traps. The movie takes place in 2415, about 400 years after a virus wiped out most of the world’s population. The remaining 5 million humans live within the walls of a city ruled by a totalitarian government. Some citizens are mysteriously yanked from the streets by government officials, never to be seen again. That’s where Theron comes in, trading the mining garb and mullet of “North Country” for spandex and a goth haircut as a member of a rebel faction.
The story involves Aeon discovering a mystery concerning cloning and DNA recycling. The heroine develops unexpectedly amorous feelings for the government dictator (Marton Csokas) she has been assigned to assassinate. This all transpires as a blimp that looks as if it’s made from stomach membrane circles overhead, and Aeon takes pills that enable her to communicate with Frances McDormand, who sports a red wig that looks as if it has been mangled by Edward Scissorhands.
Of course, this doesn’t top Princess Leia’s hair buns, which passed as a trendy hairstyle a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. But this is 2415, and the characters who populate “Aeon Flux” should know better, or at least have a sense of humor about it.
BY JAMIE PETERS