Jolt, an Amazon Original Movie starring Kate Beckinsale, sounds like a cross between Crank and Hulk but the end result is closer to Kick-Ass and Kingsman in terms of its wannabe-cool superhero and wannabe-relevant comic-book tone. The crux of this film is Lindy (Beckinsale) a protagonist with a violent anger-management problem that she keeps under control with the aid of a hand-held buzzer which she uses to give herself electric shocks whenever she feels homicidal. Jolt isn’t described as a superhero movie however, it’s billed as an action comedy but it fails in both aspects. The screenplay by Scott Wascha just isn’t funny enough for this flick to be mentioned alongside the likes of Midnight Run which blended the two genres together perfectly. Aside from the lack of laughs, Jolt is also (yet another) action movie made by a director who isn’t skilled at directing this particular genre. Very much like The Tomorrow War and Black Widow, we’ve recently had a slew of unimpressive action films which is largely due to hiring directors who have no experience in this genre. FFS Hollywood film-makers: stick to what you know!
Jolt is essentially a superhero film trying it’s hardest to be original but make no mistake, there’s nothing distinctive here. Jolt begins with a preamble about what’s normal and what’s extraordinary, whether power and aggression is a gift or a condition (which seems like it’s been covered in Bryan Singer’s X-Men). So is a disorder in your DNA, and are deficiencies in your personality down to nature or nurture? Well, aside from these questions being posed in the opening scene, none of them are answered. After the initial set-up, it’s non-stop corny music and amateur acting (not to mention an appallingly-shot car chase). There’s irritating and incessant cuts to Lindy fantasising about violence which gets old very quickly. Cringe edits including the speed-ramping of fights, means this pish would have gone down really well a decade and a half ago. But this isn’t the noughties, so how did everyone involved get Jolt‘s aesthetic and tone so wrong?
Directed by Tanya Wexler who directed the average comedy Buffaloed, her previous offering at least starred Zoey Deutch who despite being the product of nepotism, is a talented comedy actor. Kate Beckinsale who is also the result of nepotism, has never been a convincing lead irrespective of genre or lineage. From her attempts at action (Total Recall remake) horror (Underworld) and drama (Pearl Harbor) her performance and finished film always has a straight-to-TV vibe. Jolt is no different. Given that the lead was a noughties’ B-movie staple, Beckinsale isn’t someone the public want to see in the twenties, especially in a film that sports tacky visuals more at home in the gaudy past than in the gritty present. And whilst on the topic of Kate Beckinsale; lips with filler in them aren’t great at conveying any kind of emotion (including anger) especially when the face they’re attached to isn’t great at acting in the first place.
Actually, none of the actors, regardless of calibre are trying that hard, but I guess that’s understandable given Jolt‘s storyline. Stanley Tucci’s Dr. Ivan Munchin is not in Whistler/Blade territory and the romance portion of the film with Jai Courtney’s Justin isn’t a subverted Lois & Clark. Susan Sarandon is hardly in it, but she’s no Dr. Martin Brenner and Bobby Cannavale as Detective Vicars gives another one of his unvaried performances in another shite superhero flick after his appearance in Thunder Force.
After watching Jolt, I don’t know what the point of this film was. It’s not like there’s a shortage of superheroes these days. Does this latest addition add anything new to this now bloated genre? The answer is a resounding no! With Lindy exclaiming “I hate people”, this unfortunately isn’t an exploration of misanthropy, and given the central premise of self-induced pain, this doesn’t have much to say about self-harm or sadism either. Despite a pink poster and a female lead, Jolt isn’t a satire on the stereotypes of womanhood or PMT and PMS (although it’s mentioned toward the end) and the concept of fighting back against day-to-day irritations has been better covered in Joel Schumacher’s Falling Down.
With our hero suffering from “Intermittent Explosive Disorder” (which sounds more like a bowel problem than an anger issue) and the opener mentioning that Lindy is too violent to be in the military (which seems like yet more movie militarism courtesy of Hollywood) this film is far from being unique, daring, or for that matter, entertaining. From its outdated look, crap twist, to the aforementioned cringe-inducing music, this out-of-date, trashy, throwaway film induces more anger from the audience than from the main character. With the poster tagline reading “You’re In For A Shock”, the only shock would be if Jolt was an enjoyable movie, but surprise, surprise… it’s not.