8/2/07

R024 Aeon Flux

(2005, SciFi-Postapocalyptic, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson and Kevin Murphy

She’s dropped a cherry bomb in the toilet of Utopia.

Rating: ***1/2

In a nutshell:

A sexy assassin of the future turns out to be the reincarnation of her target’s former wife.

Summary:

She pops her shoulder out of socket every time she draws that gun.In the near future, a killer virus wipes out 99% of the Earth’s human population. The Goodchild brothers invent a cure, and then gather all the surviving people into the city of Bregna. Seven generations later, they still rule that totalitarian Utopia with an iron fist.

In the meantime, a resistance movement called the Monicans struggle to return freedom to the human race. Their top assassin is a leather-clad gymnast named Aeon Flux (Charlize Theron). One day her pleasantly domestic sister Una is shot as a suspected Monican. The next day Aeon’s imaginary leader (Frances McDormand) pops into her head to give her news and instructions—Monican agents have found a way into the government compound, and now she must break in and kill the city chairman, Trevor Goodchild. Aeon jumps at the chance for revenge.

With the help of her trusty sidekick Sithandra (a woman with four hands instead of two hands and two feet) they evade the aggressive guardian shrubbery and break into the Goodchild’s stronghold. Aeon tracks her target into an empty auditorium, but passionate, blurry flashbacks keep her from her objective. She is arrested and imprisoned.

Of course she escapes easily. She blows off her perturbed Monican superiors when she receives Trevor’s message to meet him in his secret underground lair. They fight, and make love, and fight again while having cryptic conversations about something vague. Aeon strangles Trevor within an inch of his life and gets away with a stolen recording from his laboratory.

Meanwhile, we learn that Trevor’s brother Oren is behind the assassination plot, using the Monicans to achieve his fratricidal ends. He is naturally disappointed by Aeon’s failure, but a surveillance tape of Trevor’s dalliance with his would-be assassin is enough for him to discredit and depose his brother. He orders Trevor’s immediate arrest and execution.

Also meanwhile, Aeon listens to Trevor’s recording and learns of something vague and secret hidden in the city’s memorial to the victims of the killer virus. The memorial in question is a jellyfish-esque blimp that orbits the city in a continuous loop; inside, she meets the elderly Keeper (Pete Postlethwaite) who offers her access to the super-secret gene computer. Poking around a bit reveals that her sister Una is not dead, merely “reassigned.”

The epic battle between Pert and Pert-er.She runs off to the proffered address, where she breaks into the home of a young couple. The person she’s looking for turns out to be an infant version of her sister. Trevor, who’s been running from his brother’s goons and tracking Aeon at the same time, arrives to explain the intricacies of the plot, which are as follows:

The cure to the killer virus also made mankind infertile. There have been no new births in seven generations, only implanted clones of the same people who have been around since the city’s inception. This is why the people of Bregna are so discontented; they keep having flashbacks to their former lives. (“Cloning” is another word for “reincarnation,” isn’t it?) This is also why Aeon couldn’t kill Trevor; she’s a clone of the original Trevor’s wife. Trevor and Oren are seventh generation clones of the scientists who originally discovered the cure, and have spent all this time trying to restore human fertility. Trevor had finally succeeded with Una—apparently the first woman in centuries to conceive without having a cloned embryo implanted—but Oren had her murdered because he doesn’t want the current Bregnan way of life to end; he wants to go on being cloned and recloned forever.

With the exposition out of the way, the movie devolves into a hail of gunfire as Aeon and Trevor battle Oren’s henchmen, run away, and then battle Oren’s henchmen again. Oren catches them; one standard Talking Villain™ speech later, he reveals that Trevor has not cured infertility after all. The infertility cured itself, as young women have been conceiving without scientific intervention all over the city. Of course Oren will do anything to stop it.

Sithandra and the other Monican extremists come to the rescue, nobly sacrificing themselves to save Aeon and Trevor as the movie collapses into random gunfire once more. Finally, with all the bad guys dead and Trevor reinstated as chairman, Aeon climbs back into the memorial blimp and crashes it through the city wall. The movie ends with a non sequitur flashback to Aeon and Trevors’ former lives.

Thoughts:

Now known as the 'Hitler/Dead Tarantula' haircut.Aeon Flux is gorgeous and surreal, two adjectives that can be applied both to the movie and the star. The setting and people are beautiful, strange, and brightly colored, like a Dr. Seuss book filled with underwear models. Too bad the dialogue is laughable and humorless (adjectives also applicable to the former Oscar-winner star’s performance), the editing is epileptic, and the plot makes nothing that even approaches sense.

(If cloning is the same as reincarnation, then how can Trevor and Oren train their younger selves every generation? And even if we accept that a reincarnation clone can exist at the same time as his/her original, it still doesn’t explain why Una’s clone is a three-month-old infant the day after her death. If you add in the gestation period, that means Oren had to have anticipated her assassination by an entire year.)

The last shot (before the final meaningless flashback) is of Bregna’s supermodel inhabitants gathering to hold hands and gaze in wonder at the broken section of city wall, while Aeon delivers a parting speech about “moving forward into the unknown.” It’s the kind of pretentious movie moment that says, “If you haven’t learned a valuable lesson by now, then you haven’t been paying attention.” Well, I’m sorry movie, but I was paying attention. In anticipation of this review, I was, in fact, taking notes, and I find no evidence of any ethical dilemma that could realistically be applied to my own life. As far as I can see, you spent the last hour and a half showing me how Charlize Theron can do backflips and crack skulls between her thighs, and while these activities are certainly interesting, they don’t really entitle you to any degree of moral superiority.

Mike Nelson is joined by Kevin Murphy for the Rifftrax commentary, and while they often express their fervent appreciation for Ms. Theron’s voluptuous physique, mostly they’re just as confused as we are. Several references are made to the movie’s numerous similarities to video games—when Aeon descends into a rustic underground library, Mike says, “She’s in level nine of Myst,” while Kevin warns her to be on the lookout for bearded men asking for magic pages. Later, during the interminable closing gunfights, Mike says, “You know why video games are so popular? Because people actually get to play them.” Also funny are Mike’s observation about Aeon’s gymnastic entry into the Goodchild compound: “A laundromat has less tumbling than this,” and Kevin’s footnote to Aeon’s first failure to kill Trevor: “John Wilkes Booth was almost undone by a desire to make out with Lincoln.” Their competent send up of an incomprehensibly surreal film is a pleasure to watch.