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Aeon Flux

An Assassin with an Attitude

If you've stayed up late watching Liquid Television on MTV, then you've already been acquainted with Aeon Flux. I guess it's taken ten years for someone to finally step up and get the animated series, full of dark undertones, surreal elements and experimental notions, out of the cult archives. Karyn Kusama (whose first film was the outstanding Girlfight) has tackled this potentially disastrous task with flare.

As the opening voiceover informs you, in the year 2011 a virus has wiped out a large portion of the planet's population. The few remaining survivors are rounded up and live in Bregna, an encased "utopia" shrouded from the encroaching outside world and ruled for the last 400 years by what is known as the Goodchild regime headed by Trevor Goodchild, the scientist who had developed an antidote to the virus. However, in 2415 unrest boils under the seemingly healthy and content civilization.

Disappearances are common. And those who are taken are never heard from again. The Goodchild regime is little more than a totalitarian dictatorship in which citizens are forced to "trade freedom for protection". Of course, with every dictatorship, you have rebels. In Aeon Flux, they come in the form of the Monicans led by the Handler (Frances McDormand). With the namesake of the film (played by Charlize Theron) being one of their most highly skilled operatives. When Aeon is given the prized assignment of assassinating Goodchild himself (played by Marton Csokas), she discovers that things are not as she perceives.

Where Aeon Flux excels is in its visuals. The movie has great aesthetics and a Matrix-inspired wardrobe (which at times, however, can be a bit over the top). Kusama captures Flux's lithe, gymnastic movements and pays attention to form and lines. In one scene, the camera shoots her jumping from building to building as it films from underneath, so all you see is Flux's body, gazelle-like, floating against peeks of blue sky.

The movie contains strong elements from the animated series. While the film isn't particularly surreal, the dialogue and its delivery contain a certain clipped, deadpan tone that, while Aeon talked only once in the MTV show, embodies the feel of the strange world she occupies. It'll be interesting to see how the bored sounding quips that appealed to adolescent culture and indulged in their ennui-ridden attitudes will appeal to the same generation a decade later. Theron does as good a job as any (this ain't no Monster) and Csokas and she have good chemistry, although there are some mawkish scenes between the two that may have you rolling your eyes.

You don't need to have seen the show to appreciate Aeon Flux; it stands on its on. However, fans of the show will get a certain extra thrill (or a sickening feeling) from watching this adaptation. While Aeon Flux does feel a little long towards the end, there are enough ingredients to keep you satisfied.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars