Cinerama: Aeon Flux

Posted: September 12, 2009 in Cinerama

Aeon FLux

By Mike Derderian

I never forgot Roy Batty’s touching words to Rick Deckard under the falling rain. The tears I have shed while watching David hold his mother’s hand one last time before she went to sleep. How much Andrew Martin desperately wanted to be a human or Chief John Anderton’s narrow escape from the pre-crime cops and the way Neo brought Trinity back to life.

“More human than human,” remembering the words of Eldon Tyrell in Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi futuristic masterpiece Blade Runner starring Harrison Ford, is how I feel every time I walk out of a dark and crowded cinema hall, where the end credits of a great movie are rolling down.

Sad as I would feel, I know that mind-blowing cinematic moments are forever engraved in my head and after spending 93 minutes watching Aeon Flux, a week ago, I knew another magical moment was added to my cerebral memory frame.

But dear reader if you happen to fall under the category of people who hated movies like Blade Runner, Artificial Intelligence: AI, Bicentennial Man, Minority Report, Star Wars (all six episodes) and The Matrix Trilogy please steer away from the cinema hall, where Aeon Flux is being screened at the moment.

Karyn Kusama’s cinematic rendition of Peter Chung’s brainchild that aired on MTV back in 1995 as a short film series brilliantly brings forth an original visual perspective of a post-apocalyptic utopian society run by a science-driven government.

It simply rocked my world and imagination because watching it from beginning to end was like reading through a selection of short stories by Philip K. Dick. It was bleak with visually gripping sceneries and ominous with a sense of melodrama transmitted by its solitary heroin Aeon Flux. It was similar to what you read in sci-fi novels that end with shocking undertones.

Aeon Flux like many movies of this genre is about man’s inability to decide his fate in a totalitarian society. Set in the year 2411 the last human population is living behind the walls of Bregna. It is in fact the only surviving human city because 400 years ago, a lethal disease known as the Industrial Virus nearly wiped-out the entire human race but thanks to a serum created by a genetic scientist called Goodchild we survived. Ever since then the descendents of the Goodchild clan have been ruling Bregna.

Dictatorship comes with a side effect identified as underground resistance that apposes the ideologies and methods of the ruling party. In Bregna resistance people are identified as Monicans. Aeon Flux (Charlize Theron) is one of them.

Flux is athletic, lithe, superhuman (no background was given to us on how she became this strong) and is dangerously lethal. Theron more than perfectly befitted Flux’s black spandex outfit and was able to convey the character’s cold-sweat deportment. With a robust 1.77-meter figure, she bore more than her skin, especially during infiltration and fight scenes.

The film also stars Marton Csokas, Jonny Lee Miller, Caroline Chikezie, Pete Postlethwaite, Frances McDormand, Amelia Warner and Sophie Okonedo, as Sithandra, a Monican operative, who had her feet surgically replaced with hands in order to enhance her fighting skills.

Watching Aeon Flux doing an acrobatic ballet spread before crawling on a concrete roof to attack masked soldiers was probably a treat for testosterone-driven males but there was more to this movie than just a good female muscle flux.

For starters, it has a great conspiracy plot that hides a grim genetically altered reality. We also have a superhuman heroin with an identity crisis trying to unravel the truth behind her existence and free her society from the clutches of the Goodchilds. Aeon Flux, the name by itself, is a key to the character’s origin. After looking up the dictionary, you will find that each word separately has a meaning: aeon means the longest division of geologic time containing two or more eras, while flux is a flow or flowing. Combine both and you will have a surprising revelation.

However, this brilliant sci-fi thriller somehow disappointed many movie critics and columnists, who complained that watching it was similar to experiencing “acid reflux”. Its shortcomings ironically were restricted within time more than space. It fell to short from a movie and to long for an episode from a television series.

The heroin’s inner struggle and drive did not wane with the unraveling of the truth when Trevor Goodchild (Csokas), the chairman and the ruler of Bregna, revealed to her the secret behind the remaining human race. Predictable never in a million years but original definitely.

Contrary to the supporting cast Theron’s performance was the best mainly because the other actor’s characters—except for Csokas’—had very little to contribute to the plot’s development.

Jonny Lee Miller’s Oren Goodchild, the brother of Trevor, for example was a bit bland in terms of a character seeking to achieve an ideal utopia inhabited by perfect humans by any means possible. Oren simply was not threatening or evil enough as apposed to his itchy trigger fingered soldiers.

Postlethwaite was convincing as the human DNA keeper, who lives in a flying blimp hovering aver Bregna—the CGI was breathtaking. As for McDormand, no one can really blame her for her performance because it was simply in character with the movie’s storyline even though I would have loved to know what happened to her near the end.

The number one role in the movie going experience is never judge a film before you see it yourself, which is the case with Aeon Flux. You just have to see it and absorb its touching ending when Flux reminds us that death exists for a reason.

Must-see-scenes: Aeon Flux’s aerodynamic acrobatics; the natural defense mechanisms the Goodchild regime uses to protect their headquarters like the dart thrusting fruits and razor-sharp grass; the inertia resistant explosive spheres in the detention cell scene when Aeon Flux escapes; Trevor Goodchild’s secret lab cloaking device and the neural communication system through which the Monican operatives communicate with each other.

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