In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it.
Originally posted on MovieJawn.
My sister cuts my mom’s hair in her kitchen. A movie is often put on in the background when this ritual occurs. Neither is the type to really sit down and watch something with their full attention, so to “take in a movie” means something entirely different to them than it does me, a person who acts like a spoiled child if his concentration on a film is broken by anything at all, no matter how innocuous. For them, a movie needs only to look pretty enough, move fast enough, and to have little by way of complicated plotting. Any number of distractions can arise in a house full of kids and pets, so a movie’s gotta be able to work around it. So next time they ask me to suggest a movie, I am going to refrain from pointing them toward The Lighthouse, and instead suggest Jolt, a movie it seems was designed for this purpose.
A lengthy opening exposition dump (which could be extended to an entire movie on its own) introduces us to our hero, Lindy. Ever since childhood she’s suffered from a uniquely horrible disorder. Basically, whenever someone is a jerk in her presence, she enters a state of blind rage that cannot be quelled by anything but indulgence of her violent fantasies. While there’s no apparent cure for her malady, there is a way around it. At all times, Lindy wears a suit of electrodes that zap her back to normal at the push of a button. If she ever feels the rage building up, a quick jolt will bring it back down. It’s like Crank 2: High Voltage, but opposite.
In the present day, Lindy (Kate Beckinsale) has her condition as under control as it will ever be, but she seeks a more permanent solution. Her psychologist (Stanley Tucci) suggests that maybe she should find love, or at the very least, try dating. She gives it a go, but when her date is murdered, Lindy’s violent condition becomes her path for justice.
What follows is a post-Atomic Blonde thriller that has just enough style that my mom and my sister will find it thrilling without being put off by anything too extreme. The neon-drenched visuals are pleasing to look at, even if the action is somewhat basic relative to the films Jolt is drawing inspiration from. A stunt showcase is not the prime directive here, however. This is all about keeping a fun vibe moving forward, and in that department it’s a success. The energy remains high throughout, with every player giving their all to what is ultimately pretty light stuff.
Beckinsale has a lot of fun as Lindy, spouting quips and throwing sass as she pounds her way through a variety of goons, jerks, and goons who are jerks. She also brings a respectable amount of emotional resonance to a character who, at her core, just wants to be loved. With her Underworld experience, Beckinsale is no stranger to an action sequence. But despite similar ass-kicking requirements, the two characters are very different, so this is far from a rehash of an old thing.
Despite being Beckinsale’s show, I was more compelled by the duo of cops whose investigative work is regularly derailed by Lindy’s quest. Played by Laverne Cox and Bobby Cannavale, Detective Nevin and Detective Vicars have a consistently strong dynamic that was a lot of fun to watch. They get a lot of the film’s warmer laughs, and are uncommonly well motivated in how they correspond as partners. Cox is right at home in a run-and-gun foot chase to boot.
Jolt is an easy, light watch, and it never bores. It isn’t the most intricately designed action picture you’ll ever see, but it’s a solid, charming style–riff designed to please my mom and my sister during a haircut, which it certainly will.