Directed by Tanya Wexler
Jolt is a new movie, sadly not in cinemas where a film of this quality belongs, starring Kate Beckinsale as Lindy, who has a problematic mental disorder. The central mechanism which allows that disorder to be diminished and leave her as someone who can function within the realm of social interaction has led some people to make comparisons to this with the Crank franchise. Well, it’s nowhere near the silliness of the brilliant Crank films but I can understand were the comparisons come from. They both use a personal gimmick to modify the central protagonist as the story moves along and they both also contain a lot of action.
Lindy, as we discover in a very humorous set up sequence which takes a little while and starts from when she’s a kid to the present - where she has to see a psychiatrist played by Stanley Tucci every week - has a problem in that, if she sees anything which she perceives as vaguely irritating or unjust, she just snaps and does a lot of violent damage to any individual in question perpetrating this kind of behaviour. She’s liable to hospitalise the person who has captured her ire and this makes her virtually unemployable so, despite her lovely flat, she’s ‘between jobs’ as the film opens. What this means is she’s tried every kind of extreme sport, combat or various other highly adrenalised hobbies (not to mention her time in the military where they threw her out for getting 'too enthusiastic' in fights) and this is an important part of her background because, it’s the excuse the writers need so that, when she goes into action later in the film, you at least feel she’s got a little training or experience to be able to do what she does.
However, now she’s back out in the wild and no longer in a mental hospital, her psychiatrist has invented her a kind of wire vest which gives her a big jolt of electricity. Whenever she feels the building desire to completely tear someone apart for being rude or whatever else they’ve done, she just presses a button in her hand and jolts herself back down. The director uses a visual cue in these moments which she keeps coming back to, to fill the audience in on Lindy’s mental state. When she gets angry the pupils of her eye become constricted... when she jolts herself back out of her murder rage the pupils dilate again. A useful bit of cinematic shorthand to let the audience in.
One day, she finally goes on a date with an accountant played by Jai Courtney and actually has sex with him without killing him in the process. She is completely loved up but then, the next day, she finds he’s been murdered and that he was an accountant for a mob king pin (who’s ultimately revealed as being played by the great David Bradley, in a role you might not quite associate him with).
So she steals police evidence and goes looking for his killer, causing carnage along the way and making mincemeat of the professional criminals and assassins set to stop her. She also has to contend with keeping from being found and arrested by two cops (a nicely written duo played by Bobby Cannavale from the Ant Man films and Laverne Cox) while she’s out for justice.
And it’s a great film although, it has to be said, it does kind of give away its surprise reveals of the last ten minutes about 20 to 30 minutes into the movie. There’s a certain element written into the script during her first scene at the police station which really gives things away as to what she’s going to discover at the end of her journey... both in terms of a character appearance and also the implications of that character knowing all about her. It was kind of a sloppy, ‘run through the wet paint of the corner we just painted ourselves into’ moment which annoyed me a little. But, honestly, the film is so nicely put together that I really didn’t mind being ahead of the central protagonist for an hour. The dialogue in the things is really wonderful and the casting of this is spot on.
The cinematography is pretty nice too, with some beautiful colour lighting in some sections, such as a scene in Lindy’s apartment where bright pinks and blues are pitched against each other. The whole thing looks very slick and it’s definitely one of those new breed of action movies like the John Wick franchise, where the attention to the way the frame is lit and designed is obviously as important to the director as getting the fight choreography right... and I appreciate that level of commitment to a project.
There are some nice visual details in here too such as when, for example, the number 9 of Lindy’s apartment dislodges when she goes in to have sex, twisting around on its axis to make a 6 while leaving the impression of the nine still there, signalling some of the night’s activity inside. There’s also a huge painting of Brigitte Helm taken from one of the Metropolis posters as a wall in a restaurant bathroom, which got me excited.
Above all, though, despite the obviousness of some of the plot developments, the film is a well made candy confection of a movie (like Gunpowder Milkshake was, review coming soonish when I'm allowed) and kept me entertained for its not overlong running time. If you like action movies with strong female personalities causing violence and carnage with a blatant disregard for law and order, then Jolt should be right up your street. Stay a little way into the credits for a short bonus scene finishing off a throwaway shot from earlier in the movie. I’d really like a Blu Ray of this one so I can see it in much better quality... but I expect it won’t get a physical release and so the film will never quite look as good as it should.