From the get-go, you’ll either be pulled into the aggressive high-concept of Amazon’s new thriller “Jolt”, or you‘ll just not care about it. British beauty Kate Beckinsale (*sighs) returns to her kick ass form, in the Amazon Prime original movie “Jolt”. An action flick that could use a jolt itself, but gets by thanks to the always wonderful leading lady Kate Beckinsale.
“Jolt” starts off with a narration by a woman with no name, but sounds an awful lot like Susan Sarandon. She introduces us to young Lindy (played in adult form by Beckinsale), who has trouble getting close to people given her rare condition that forces her to go into a violent rage at the slightest annoyance. Just think of Ben Stiller’s character Mr. Furious in “Mystery Men”, but instead Beckinsale’s Lindy would actually go into an uncontrollable fit and beat you senseless.
Fast forward 20 years and adult Lindy has lived a tough life, with a chip on her shoulder that naturally keeps people away and most notably, wears a harness that allows her to give herself a needed electric shock to stop her from going ballistic when the mood hits her. This little trinket is created by her doctor (played by the always stellar Stanley Tucci), who suggests she takes this opportunity to meet someone special and she does like the strapping Justin (Jai Courtney “Suicide Squad”).
While she’s able to control herself physically, Lindy can’t help but inch close to complete meltdowns, like at a rude server at a fancy restaurant and via mental playthroughs, we see what she “would” do if she were to unleash. But after something happens to Justin, she can’t control herself and no amount of shock can stop her as she rapidly sets out to find the culprits.
Which leads “Jolt” into the typical vengeance is mine mixed in with that energetic, unchained style like a wannabe “Crank”. Beckinsale’s “Jolt” and Jason Statham’s “Crank” are two films with a similar premise, as the only way Lindy can keep her urges in check is to literally shock herself with the harness strapped to her body.
The difference between “Jolt” and “Crank”, is that “Jolt” isn’t filmed with that hyper visual style and it doesn’t have the willingness to push the limits. “Jolt” has a lot of potential to be a balls out insane picture, but the screenplay by Scott Wascha never goes far enough. As typical with these films, the characterization is put on the back burner in favor of it’s style and action that throws Lindy into action mode, rather than making it a story about her hesitance toward it.
Although I did appreciate that the action is constructed in a rough and tumble form that doesn’t forget Lindy is acting out in violence of impulsivity and not in the way of some highly skilled assassin. But sometimes the story plays like an action thriller that seems to forget its unique premise in favor of it’s style and sleekness.
At the center of it all and the heart of “Jolt” is Kate Beckinsale. No stranger to action films, Beckinsale finds herself in one that takes the most advantage of her range as an actress. She’s whip-smart, witty, beautiful, has a spark of madness and as the role demands throughout the picture is more than willing to throw herself into the action. But Beckinsale is great at playing Lindy when her guard is down and when she’s feeling lost, vulnerable and unable to control her actions.
Beckinsale never loses that grip on the side of Lindy that can’t help doing the things she does. It’s a delicate balance of action star and character study and Beckinsale is nothing short of electrifying. Her character Lindy, might as well be a comic book or graphic novel superhero. She has the perfect origin story of having been born with a neurological problem, intermittent explosive disorder, that gives her incredible strength and an uncontrollable rage that she uses against everybody, especially those who get on her nerves. Beckinsale is still as bad ass as she ever was at being able to throw herself into the action and she makes “Jolt” far better than it has any right to be.
But for all its shortcomings in terms of storytelling execution, character development and making full use of its premise on a more bonkers level. The cast is dialed up and fully invested in it’s screenplay and Kate Beckinsale is commandingly charming and fierce. I can’t imagine you’ll get more out of Jolt other than a fun time, especially since the film never takes itself too seriously and that’s what makes it a lot of fun.
But we get an ending that hints there’s more to come and if we’re given more time to expand Beckinsale’s character Lindy and setting the bar a bit higher, then it could make for a great sequel that will get us all charged up. Because as much as I’d like to see Kate Beckinsale again. As of right now, I’m just not sure I’d like a sequel as much as the filmmakers do.
GRADE: ★★1/2☆☆☆ (2.5 out of 5)