After she wrapped up production on Monsters Ball and before she visited North Country, Charlize Theron slipped on the action heroine tights in the futuristic sci-fi thriller, Aeon Flux. It's an adaptation of Peter Chung's acclaimed animated MTV series from the 1990s, by screenwriters, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi and directed by Karyn Kusama, whose previous effort was indie flick, Girlfight. It's 2415 and a virus has eliminated most of the world's population. The remaining inhabitants live in the fortified city of Bregna, a mock utopian society, ruled by a benevolent dictator. Charlize Theron is Aeon Flux, the finest soldier in the underground resistance, the Monicans, who are lead by a flaming haired, Frances McDormand, who bizarrely gathers her troops for clandestine meetings somehow through their digestive tracks. When Flux's sister is murdered by the State, she jumps at the chance to assassinate the ruler, Trevor Goodchild (Marton Csokas). Joined by Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda), who remarkable body modifications features hands in place of her feet. Together they navigate the well-secured Goodchild headquarters. The mission's a cinch, until Aeon comes face to face with her nemesis and unearths the hidden secrets of Bregna.
It wouldn't have been easy to adapt Chung's original series to fit the requirements of a mainstream film, which is what Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi's script attempts to do. Chung's short films were truly peculiar, experimental and intentionally so. Aeon died at the end of each episode, there was practically no dialogue and no real continuity between the short films. He claims that the animations were ambiguous in order to satire mainstream action films. Animation allowed him to experiment with character and traditional story structure, something that this live action doesn't even begin to replicate. Aeon Flux - the movie is disappointing, because the filmmakers have chosen a conventional narrative, ignoring the spirit of Chung's series. The film also echoes Aldous Huxley's vision of a controlled future, in his superb novel, "Brave New World", but lacks originality, so its comments about surveillance and government control, felt oversimplified. Aeon Flux is however, wonderfully crafted ' the production design is incredibly impressive. Expressive, sweeping architecture and exciting costumes, with the odd dodgy hairdo. The expensive visual effects are seamlessly blended into the story and Theron's ballet experience is evident in her character's acrobatic antics. But none of this can conceal Kusama's bland direction. Ultimately, this science fiction is so unadventurous that it's almost colourless.