Jolt‘s script requires a new formula.
I’m not sure Kate Beckinsale has ever found a role that utilizes her natural comic abilities until Jolt. The new action film from Buffaloed director Tanya Wexler combines Beckinsale’s action pedigree with loads of well-timed comic relief from the lead. She’s so much damn fun you almost forget how predictable it is. It’s like the soda of the same name. The same formula, but this movie has a notable kick.
Beckinsale plays Lindy, a bouncer who just lost her job for being, I guess, too effective and going the extra mile. She has an anger management problem, you see. Lily just won’t put you in a headlock or give you a bear hug from behind to carry you out of a club. She will use your head like a basketball to test the strength of the city asphalt below. Every time someone pisses her off, she has an image of what she wants to do to them. You know. The normal things. Breaking their necks with her bare hands. Pull their throat out. Again, with her bare hands. Anything really with her bare hands. That about covers it.
She has had anger issues since she was a child. She has been seeking treatment from her shrink, Dr. Munchin (if you can get the reference to the syndrome, you may get the joke), played by the invaluable Stanley Tucci. He is helping her get in touch with those angry feelings beneath the surface and has pulled a bit of a MacGuyver — he created a vest that giver her a “jolt” to her entire body that she can self-activate when she is feeling upset. A button that she can easily attach to her key ring.
To grow and learn some emotional intelligence, she goes on a blind date with a nerdy gentleman named Justin (Wexler player Jai Courtney). They have immediate goofy chemistry. Justin is a bit of an egg head and the “adorkable” type. This makes him immediately endearing to her. So much so she beats the crap out of a waitress in a bathroom stall who was repeatedly rude to him. You know, when the electric shock treatment doesn’t work on the rage against someone you like, you don’t call that anger. We call it love. Though, it’s short-lived. He is murdered shortly after their date and she is now on a murderous rampage to find his killer.
Wexler’s follow-up to her critical indie, Buffaloed, has its enjoyable moments. The script from Scott Washa has a good cast to enhance its relief. Including an equally endearing detective played by Bobby Cannavale and one that doesn’t bullshit around (Laverne Cox). Even Tucci can make the most of his ability for dry wit.
Based on the formula rules of action films, as we mentioned above, ruins her romance with Courtney and proves we just can’t have nice things. From that point on, the movie is completely predictable, even boring, and is only marginally enjoyable because of its talented cast.
If you had trouble spotting the villain in Jolt before it ends, you don’t watch enough movies. Which, of course, means you have your priorities straight. Otherwise, this is the very definition of a formula action picture. Why studios spend so much money to use the same plot instead of investing money in a better story is a question that appears will never be answered. Even Susan Sarandon is wasted in a cameo to set up a sequel. Which appears to be where the better storytelling will come from.
It’s a shame they may have wasted that chance.