A couple of years ago, I visited my family doctor to have a check-up and explore some minor stomach pains that I’d been having (a probable byproduct of Au Bon Pain coffee, I can only imagine); at 27, I wasn’t exactly a high risk for colon cancer, but given the malpractice problems facing the medical community, I was scheduled a precautionary mini-colonoscopy nevertheless. For those of you unfamiliar with the procedure, it involes a specialist (in my case, a 97-year-old Jewish man with pubic-sized nose hairs) who shoves a rubber tube with a small camera on the end of it into your anus and snakes it up several feet through your intestine, all the while blowing air through your digestive system while a middle-aged, nicotine-befouled nurse holds your trembling hand and strokes your sweaty forehead, cooing softly: “It’ll all be over in a minute, hon. Don’t you worry.”
In my life, that anal irrigation was perhaps the singularly most excruciating experience I’ve ever endured; I couldn’t imagine suffering a pain more complete, short of undergoing a movie-length colonoscopy, which is perhaps the best way to describe the experience of watching Aeon Flux. Unfortunately — at least in the theater I frequent — there are no bedside nurses to provide hand-holding comfort through the harrowing ordeal of watching Charlize Theron waste her talents and the goodwill she built up in her Oscar-winning Monster performance in a movie this unreservedly without merit. Indeed, watching Aeon Flux is akin to tripping on one of those nouveau riche, Bret Easton Ellis-type drug cocktails made up of bad acid, horse tranquilizers, and just enough liquid Drano™ to sting, but not quite enough to be lethal, though after 45 minutes of watching Theron whistle at fucking marbles, you might wish for a few more cc’s of Drano™ just to prematurely end your misery.
For the unfamiliar, Aeon Flux is based on a mid-1990s MTV anime that aired sometime around 2 a.m., when most people are either too tired or too stoned to change the channel; if you were high enough, the cartoon might have even provided a modicum of entertainment value. No such luck, unfortunately, for the 2005 movie adaptation, which successfully blends illogicality, nonsensicalness, and Charlize Theron’s bare tummy into what the Query Letters’ folks might call cinematic ivmlod, which is “what happens when you put M&Ms in your feeding tube.”
The incoherent plot begins some 400 years in the future in the dystopian city known as Bregna, home to the one percent of civilization that wasn’t wiped out by a virus in 2011. Aeon Flux (Theron) is an assassin in the resistance group known as the Monicans, a group charged with toppling the regime of Trevor Goodchild (Marton Csokas), who is the Chairman of Bregna and descendant of the family that invented the vaccine that saved the city from the virus. I’m not quite sure why the Monicans want to kill Goodchild, but I think it has something to do with people in perfume bottles disappearing and some liver-shaped monstrosity that hovers ominously above the city. In either case, Aeon Flux’s sister is killed by the government, which prompts Flux to pronounce, “I had a family. I had a life. Now all I have is a mission.” And, apparently, that mission is to bore the living shit out of the audience.
Anyway, the leader of the Monicans is known as The Handler, who lives in a pill and is released into the stomach when swallowed (?) and looks a lot like Frances McDormand, but couldn’t possibly be, because McDormand would never agree to be in a film like this, much less in a role that requires her to articulate lines seemingly written by 11-year-old boys playing war in the backyard: “Do this, and you will have your revenge, and we will have our victory!” Jonny Lee Miller of Hackers fame also shows up as Trevor Goodchild’s brother, who is trying to oust his sibling as leader of the government and take over the world for some unexplained reason, though my guess is that it’s a misguided effort to win back his ex-wife, Angelina Jolie (forget it, Jonny — have you seen Brad with the kids?) Meanwhile, Aeon Flux — who follows a variation of a Charles De Mar maxim: “If you see something shooting at you, do a cartwheel!” — is also called upon to assassinate Trevor, but can’t seem to keep her tongue out of his mouth long enough to kill him, which turns out to be a good thing because Aeon Flux was actually Catherine in another life and Trevor was … oh, hell. Who the fuck cares?!
Here is what I appreciate about Aeon Flux: I left half an hour before it was over, and as I write this, I can rest easy knowing that there is still a really creepy anime-loving 40-year-old gross guy with stringy hair sitting in the theater; and you know what, he’s probably even enjoying Aeon Flux. I don’t know why, and I don’t know how, because it is the worst movie I’ve seen since Elektra, but there is some guy (who thinks that there should be three more Matrix sequels) that is chomping excitedly on his popcorn, wide-eyed and ecstatic, because he just happens to think that Aeon Flux is the coolest goddamn movie he’s ever seen.
God Bless the mentally retarded!
Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba and managing partner of its parent company, which prefers to remain anonymous for reasons pertaining to public relations. He lives in Ithaca, New York.A Cinematic Anal Probe!
Film | May 12, 2006 | Comments ()