Film Review

Tanya Wexler’s Jolt

Kate Beckinsale is, quite literally, electrifying in Jolt, a new bubblegum pop action flick from Amazon prime that is already being written off as empty popcorn fluff when it’s so much more fun than that. Yes it is action popcorn entertainment, but Kate’s performance, the writing, character quirks, purply-neon visual dynamics and wry, dark sense of humour totally won me over. There’s a million and one “tough girl assassin with vague superpowers“ movies out there but this one does the shtick with actual talent, sass and good old fashioned storytelling, kinda like if Joe Carnahan did a Luc Besson. Kate plays Lindy, a girl who has suffered from what’s called “intermittent explosive disorder” (it’s a real thing, I looked it up) since she was a child, a condition that causes her to involuntarily burst out in angry, violent episodes which, when coupled with her off the charts cortisol levels and overactive adrenal glands, make her very powerful and very dangerous. She controls this, with a bit of help from Stanley Tucci’s underworld doctor, by deliberately juicing up her nervous system with a jolt of electricity from a handheld control device wired to implants inside her. Does this work, you may wonder? Kinda, sorta, not really… I mean what fun would the film be if we didn’t get to see her lose her shit and beat the absolute piss out of people? The trouble starts when she finally meets a guy she likes (Jai Courtney) and of course he’s murdered under shady circumstances. This puts her on a one woman crusade across NYC to find the ones responsible with two oddball detectives on her trail, a sympathetic one (Bobby Cannavale) and a hard-nosed, unforgiving one (Laverne Cox, a genuine scene stealer). Lindy’s journey is a vigorous, colourful, violent, profane, unexpected odyssey that takes her to nightclubs, fight-clubs, clandestine skyscrapers, a hospital maternity ward where a game of ‘catch the baby’ ensues (don’t ask) and she comes up against all sorts of weirdos including Filch from Harry Potter as some sort of creepy rare animal collecting mob emperor and an unnerving Susan Sarandon as a shadowy figure from her own past come back to haunt her. While this narrative itself has patches that are a tad overplayed and the eventual ‘twist’ struck me as a bit bothersome, what the film has is energy, wit, enthusiasm and pizazz for days. It’s stylish, propulsive, visually gorgeous and peppered with delicious bits of dark, eccentric humour here and there. What’s more, it proves once again that Kate Beckinsale is an absolute diamond of an actress and a natural born star, whether it’s in Underworld, something dramatic like David Gordon Green’s Snow Angels, Van Helsing or even the shitty Total Recall remake that she was the only good part of, the woman just has charisma and talent like no other. She tears into the role of Lindy here with punishing physicality, sardonically droll deadpan attitude and, most importantly, a genuine sense of humanity and character kept aglow amidst all the action and flair. The film sets itself up for a sequel; I say bring it on.

-Nate Hill

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