'Aeon Flux'

You know, "Aeon Flux" isn't that bad.

Oh, don't get me wrong. It's silly, it's pointless, and director Karyn Kusama clearly has no idea what she's doing ... but if you're looking for a mindless action movie set in a dystopic future society where hot women with killer hair perform elaborate acrobatic routines in clingy leotards while blowing crap up left and right ... well, this one has Oscar cred!

It's the year 2415, some four centuries after a virus has wiped out 99% of the world's population, and the last remaining colony of humans lives in a walled city controlled by some kind of generational oligarchy. But it isn't paradise -- Big Brother is always watching, and so on -- and a small group of rebels, the Monicans, do their best to bring down the dictatorial scientist Trevor Goodchild.

The Monicans' best operative is named Aeon Flux, and looks a lot like Charlize Theron. She's, like, totally lethal, but when she's assigned to kill Goodchild (all-purpose Eurohunk Marton Czokas, of Kingdom of Heaven and The Great Raid), she finds she can't do it ... and her failure to act sets her spinning off on a new trajectory, one that will make enemies of her fellow rebels as well as Goodchild's military minions, and confuse the hell out of the audience.

That's okay. Aeon's confused, too. But then, her world is pretty confusing -- Theron's "North Country" co-star and fellow Oscar honoree Frances McDormand, all buggy eyes and Carrot Top hair, speaks cryptically as the rebel's leader, and then there's the issue of what they've done to Sophie Okonedo.

Okonedo -- herself an Oscar nominee last year for "Hotel Rwanda" -- turns up as a rebel sidekick who has hands for feet. I will repeat that for the benefit of the astonished: SHE HAS HANDS FOR FEET. It's explained away as an elective "modification", although such augmentation really doesn't seem to be of much use to her as a rebel assassin. It also seems to me that it'd be very hard to maintain your secret identity when you can't wear shoes.

But whatever. Most of this movie is about Charlize Theron running up and down things, climbing other things, and shooting people, and occasionally taking her clothes off in artful surroundings while a peppy techno-flavored score pushes her along. Theron might not have the slightest idea why she's doing any of it -- I certainly didn't -- but at least she looks like she's enjoying herself. And she gets to have feet for feet. That's worth something, anyway.

Paramount's enhanced-widescreen DVD turns out to be pretty impressive, all things considered: Director Kusama didn't participate in either of the commentary tracks, and doesn't make much of an impression in the five production featurettes that comprise an hour-long documentary ... but hey, the disc includes two commentary tracks and an hour-long documentary!

The first commentary pairs Theron with producer Gale Anne Hurd for a muted exchange of production anecdotes and stories of cast bonding; screenwriters Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi turn up on the second track, for a much more interesting debate about what worked and what didn't, and whether the ultimate direction of the project was somewhere they'd expected to go.

The featurettes break the movie down into its component challenges: Production design, locations, stunts and costumes are all covered at decent length, with the fifth featurette more of a toss-off, offering a three-minute interview with set photographer Jasin Boland, who goes through his camera bag and talks about the importance of the image. This is probably the first time a DVD supplement has been devoted to set photography, but it feels more like a glorified still gallery than anything else.

STUDIO: Paramount Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: April 25, 2006
RATING: PG-13
PRICE: $29.99
TIME: 92 minutes
DVD EXTRAS: French audio dub; English and Spanish subtitles; audio commentaries; production featurettes.
INTERNET SITE: aeonfluxondvd.com

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