Why is it that nearly every theatrical vision of a Utopian future looks like a community college campus? I guess that whatever disease/apocalypse that led to said civilization's formation must have wiped out all of the talented architects. At least Bregna accents its concrete façade with some shrubbery. Then again, one can probably forgive the plague-surviving denizens of this place if they don't really care for greenery. The place is surrounded by the stuff; dense jungle, feral beasties, with only a really big wall standing between them and extinction.
Or is that wall actually meant to keep its civilians in ? After all, folks are talking (and disappearing), revolution's brewing, and the shameful secret of this city is on the verge of being exposed.
And that is the crux of Aeon Flux. Based on Peter Chung's cult-hit animated series of the Liquid Television era, Flux hits the screen with Charlize Theron taking on the role of the titular character; a highly specialized assassin, and card-carrying member of the underground movement known as the Monicans. Lead by “Handler” (a wasted McDormand), the Monicans are a psychically connected bunch bent on toppling the regime of the Goodchild's; the direct descendents of the doctor who cured the plague and founded their fair city-state. While this place doesn't really seem all that bad (save for the random abductions, that is), the Monicans want the head of Trevor Goodchild (Csoskas) on a silver platter, and aim to set Bregna free.
Aeon is simply a cog in this particular movement's machine; that is, until her sister is murdered! It is then that her life's work goes from being a political statement to good old-fashioned revenge! But, when she has Trevor in her sites, she is overwhelmed by memories she shouldn't have, questions she's never pondered, and a doubt that puts the mission of the Monicans-as well as her own life-in jeopardy.
I actually enjoyed Aeon Flux a lot more than I expected to. I was never really a fan of the animated series as it was initially little more than a bunch of seemingly disparate segments with a focus on the quality of the animation rather than the story itself. Then again, I probably just didn't get it. I'm not particularly sharp. The film, however, explains itself pretty well, with well-established motives, logical plot twists, and a captivating storyline. It's nothing ground-breaking, but, when held up against many recent sci-fi offerings (I'm talking to you, Wachowskis!), Aeon Flux seems deep by comparison.
While I'm not sure if I buy Theron as an action heroine, I will say she looks quite fetching in her form-fitting suits, and her Amazon build makes it easy to believe that she could kick some serious ass. The supporting cast seem almost as artificial as the surroundings, and Frances McDormand's bit performance here had me scratching my head, but I've yet to see a sci-fi action flick where acting takes precedence over visual effects, stunts, and concept, so Flux gets a pass here. It looks good, the action is on par with its peers, and the concept is sound; the fact that Frances McDormand looks more like a stoned out grandmother in a mumu rather than the ethereal leader of a group of revolutionaries shouldn't be a factor.
Paramount loads up Aeon Flux with five featurettes (which are really just one big making-of chopped into digestible nuggets), commentary by Theron and producer Gale Anne Hurd, and theatrical trailer. Remarkably absent is any sort of real look at the film's source material. One would think that Chung's animated series would at least merit a bit a short segment of its own, but it is, instead, only briefly touched upon in the “Creating a World” segment of the making-of.
While not the visual powerhouse of The Matrix films nor quite as action-packed as the highly underrated Equilibrium, Aeon Flux finds a happy medium of deep sci-fi storytelling with bouts of fisticuffs, gunplay, and an undeniably sexy lead character that should offer a nice diversion for both the series and the genre.