The year is 2415 and the planet Earth has faced great changes over the four centuries since a devastating plague wiped out ninety nine percent of the population. The remaining survivors now live in a walled city, and although no one dare speak of it, the place is a police state run by Chairman Trevor Goodchild (Marton Csokas), with citizens disappearing without a trace, victims of the authorities. However, not everyone will take this lying down, and a group of rebels known as the Monicans are doing their best to disrupt the government with a view to overthrowing them as soon as possible. Aeon Flux (Charlize Theron) is one such rebel, and she is given her orders to close down the surveillance system, little knowing that her mission is about to get personal...
The original Aeon Flux was a cartoon on MTV devised by Peter Chung, and indeed MTV are co-producers of this, the big screen version, but as expected there had to be a few changes made to the streamlined simplicity of its source. Here the script was written Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, and the previously deviously uncomplicated Aeon now labours under a background - for example, just as Tank Girl got an unnecessary name in her flop film incarnation, Aeon is now apparently called Catherine. It's this drawing in of elements, nay, clichés, to beef up the storyline that causes the problems.
Aeon also has a sister now, Una (Amelia Warner), and they share a "You don't know the extent of the problem"/"You don't need to be doing this, it's too dangerous" conversation while out shopping. Naturally, it's not long until Una is visited with a knock on the door one night from the bad guys' heavies and is spirited away. Now it's personal - why isn't it enough that Aeon should be operating out of a sense of social injustice or even twisted fun? - and she has to find out why her sister was targeted as well as getting down to the nitty gritty of tracking down Trevor Goodchild.
In the first half hour, there's a dreamlike imagination at work to prettify the bog standard enter the villains' lair business, which bodes well; you think, after all, that there should be some enticing trappings to match the orginal's stylisation. The surveillance system turns out to be a large pool that shows who it's spying on with droplets hitting its surface, which may not be practical, but beats a bored security guard staring blankly at a bank of monitors. Yet after this fairly promising business, monotony starts to set in and it's clear that any innovation has been ironed out along the way.
Some of this is so determinedly futuristic in appearance that it looks ridiculous. Sophie Okonedo arrives as a Monican with hands instead of feet (but not feet instead of hands - you missed a trick there, scriptwriters), which supposedly makes her more agile, but as Aeon soon beats her in a fight you wonder why she bothered with the modification. Frances McDormand is the goodies' mastermind equivalent of Goodchild, but has to sport a Harpo Marx wig for her trouble, and Pete Postlethwaite is observed on a huge floating jellyfish dressed as a giant sausage roll. What emerges is not a distinctive science fiction adventure, but instead a needless adjustment of the cartoon from weird, fetishistic and slightly sinister to a machine tooled would-be blockbuster that wasn't. To be faithful what this had to be was ninety minutes of sleek, decadent violence, and that's not what you're offered. Music by Graeme Revell.