Certainly not limited to the genre by any stretch of the imagination, Kate Beckinsale long ago proved her abilities to deliver oodles of action on screen, appearing in multiple “Underworld” movies and more. She is now back delivering body blow after body blow in the new film from director Tanya Wexler, “Jolt,” and the brutal, bloody, moderately funny film works.
Here Beckinsale stars as Lindy, a woman with a unique problem involving her cortisol levels – when she becomes angry, her rage is uncontrollable and she hurts people. The condition has left her super strong and super fast and super scared of the world, but she is convinced by her doctor (Stanley Tucci), to attempt to form attachments and meets Justin (Jai Courtney). Unfortunately, he’s killed by some evildoers and Lindy takes it upon herself to get revenge.
It isn’t that the cops aren’t there and aren’t doing their job in the world of “Jolt.” In fact, the fantastic team of Vicars (Bobby Cannavale) and Nevin (Laverne Cox), are trying to work out just why Justin has been murdered and whodunit, but that doesn’t satisfy Lindy. The only thing that will satiate her desire for blood is… well, it’s blood. She wants blood – the blood of the people responsible for killing her almost boyfriend.
Now, it isn’t fair to say that Lindy’s anger is completely uncontrollable. Her doctor, Munchin, he’s worked out a sort of vest for her that provides an electric shock to her as needed, a shock she controls herself with a button on a chain around her arm. Once delivered, the shock calms her down (although it is possible for her to build up a tolerance).
What we’re dealing with then here, what Wexler has crafted with screenwriter Scott Wascha, is a dark, bloody, sci-fi action movie with more than a little bit of levity and a whole lot of innuendo. Come for the bone crunching, stay for the sex jokes.
I would refer to such a movie as “fun,” but I did that once and someone looked at me as though I were insane – how could I describe a movie in which awful things happen and blood splatters and innocent lives are put in danger as fun. The answer is that many movies, this one in particular, are a sort of fantasy world. What’s happening here isn’t real, Kate Beckinsale is great at making us believe she’s Lindy and she has this problem, but she isn’t, she’s an actress. And while that statement fits into the “well, duh” category, it also answers the question that I was hammered on. Consequently, I will refer to “Jolt” as fun – this is a fun movie.
The supporting cast around Beckinsale, which also includes David Bradley, give it their all, making the whole thing that much better. The back and forths between Munchin and Lindy crackle. They’re just as funny and dark and disturbing as the movie itself, a kind of microcosm of the whole affair. But, as good as those bits are, the bickering between Nevin and Vicars is what wins the day. Those two are fantastic together.
There is some inkling that what “Jolt” is really doing is serving as an entry point to a larger franchise, and if it does head that way, I want that franchise to include Vicars and Nevin. It isn’t that they are doing a good cop/bad cop thing, but their varying approaches to the problems of the case provide an almost (but not quite) realistic counterbalance to the heightened scenario we are seeing unfold. Plus, both Cox and Cannavale are quite funny.
“Jolt” very much feels like a movie that knows exactly what it’s trying to do – it’s telling us the tale of a would-be superhero and establishing the rules for her world. It’s compelling in both the silliness of the tale itself and the action that accompanies it. There are hints at something larger behind it all and while there’s some disappoint in the way that all unfolds, it still (mostly) feels complete without us every knowing the full picture. Plus, Kate Beckinsale kicks butt.
photo credit: Amazon Studios