For all the flux and fuzz rampant in Aeon Flux, there is only one notion that sticks out, convinced of itself - cloning is aberrant human behaviour. Apart from this perplexed moral, mostly everything else leaves one feeling rather foggy and immensely vacuous.
The film is based on Peter Chung's animated series, Aeon Flux. These short episodic films were blatantly avant garde in both their ideology and manner of expression. The post-modern surrealism of the cartoon is not replicated successfully in the present film, the lack of which makes it deadwood. One comes to a sci-fi flick for creative shudder moments. At best, Aeon Flux will titillate you to go get some more popcorn.
Aeon Flux foretells our fate (which is no good). But before that comes our pesky past. In characteristic Star Wars prologue style, we are duly informed that 400 years into the future, some sort of an "industrial disease" flushed out most of humankind. The Homo Sapiens legacy lingers on, in the walled city of Bregna.
The present scenario is apparently as perfect as a sunny day. The remaining human race is governed by an oligarchy, headed by scientist Trevor Goodchild (Marton Csokas). Bregna is safe with little kiddos running about and women gliding by, clutching their parasols (that's the retro look, mind you).
But beneath the veneer of perfection lies a web of deceit (dramatic, huh?). The surveillance spycams confirm the existence of a totalitarian state. Resembling the Great Purge routine (cuckoo Stalin on a rampage) of doing citizens in, here, people vanish or are found dead.
The standard film package includes a bunch of radicals (thank God!) taking on the absolutist regime. The Monicans are rebels plagued by one mission - the downfall of the oligarchy. Here walks in Aeon Flux (Charlize Theron), in sleek blacks and with slick back-flips. Aeon must assassinate "Chairman Trevor". But things go askew.
Trevor and Aeon unearth nebulous dreams common to their past lifetimes. Both turn against their respective gangs. Trevor discovers that his treacherous brother, Oren (Jonny Lee Miller), has been on a killing spree. Aeon discovers that Trevor is the misunderstood good scientist slogging away in his lab to save humanity from the curse of sterility. Voila! Here comes the unveiling of the plot.
Bregnnians are sterile. They have been sterile for 400 years. The Goodchild dynasty has been in the cloning business for 400 years, so that the human race doesn't run dry. Sadly, now everyone is going through some sort of an identity crisis, and the replicas must stop. But young bro, Oren Goodchild, prefers immortality, and hence a battle ensues.
A sci-fi flick scores if it has a sassy superwoman parading across the screen. Charlize Theron's stealth and stamina score high as do her taut expressions. Instinctively, one sizes her up against Alien's gutsy Sigourney Weaver. And Theron, more or less, matches her grit.
But sometimes even a Theron can't thaw the freeze. For one, the performances of the rest of the cast are mediocre. Marton Csokas seems like Theron's permanent side-kick. Frances McDormand and Sophie Okonedo are wasted.
There is hardly any dialogue, and whatever bit of talk happens, passes unnoticed. If the lack of dialogue is a means of creating estranged and lonely humans, it doesn't succeed in doing so. There is no empathy generated for the characters.
The genre of science fiction demands a willing suspension of disbelief. So let's not get cranky about a weak plot. It's your regular man wanting to play God and lousing up Nature's habitual tasks. But the beginning of the movie drags, while the end is speedily wound up.
In a sci-fi, you also want to see the unimaginable or at least a new take on the imaginable. Aeon Flux does not deliver elaborate special effects. Okay, so there's the garden scene where regular grass mutates into deathly shards of metal. Or the zeppelin-like receptacle wandering the city skies. But our hungry souls yearn for massive mayhem (or even an ugly alien of some sort).
The action sequences are tough and snappy. Theron's agility does justice to the martial techniques, but some awful editing leaves you with nothing but a whoosh of fists and feet. A big bummer!
Super-sassy Theron rescues the human race. But even she can't salvage Aeon Flux from critical annihilation.