The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Amazon Prime Video] - JOLT | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Amazon Prime Video] - JOLT

jolt review
A woman prone to extreme outbursts of violence seeks out her lover's killers.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Tanya Wexler

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Bobby Cannavale, Jai Courtney, Laverne Cox, Stanley Tucci

jolt poster

A lot of today's movie stars don’t really seem to enjoy being movie stars. Not how David Niven and Bette Davis enjoyed being movie stars. Today's A-listers seem like a dull lot, far from the sort of people you'd like to go for a few drinks with. One exception is Kate Beckinsale, who really appears to enjoy being Kate Beckinsale. Her Instagram feed is the stuff of legend, with the British actress displaying a joie de vivre and a cheeky wit that seems absent from most of her image conscious colleagues. With the exception of Whit Stillman, directors have failed to make the most of Beckinsale's cutting wit and impudent approach to fame. She's now arguably most famous for the four Underworld movies in which she played a mopey vampire, a role that completely shut away her sense of humour.

jolt review

Thankfully, director Tanya Wexler has given Beckinsale a role that seems tailor-made for her bubbly but sarky presence. In Jolt, Beckinsale plays Lindy, a woman whose anger issues are so over-the top that she's required to wear a series of electrodes attached to her torso and self-administer an electric shock every time she feels like she's about to turn into the She-Hulk.

Due to her condition, Lindy has avoided the dating scene. But at the behest of her therapist (Stanley Tucci), she decides to chance a blind date with likeable accountant Justin (Jai Courtney). To her surprise, Lindy hits it off with Justin, but before they've even had a third date the bean-counter's body is found in a dumpster with two bullets in his cranium. Lindy decides it's time to stop repressing her rage and channel it into finding her lover's killers.

jolt review

It's a winning premise, and thanks to Beckinsale, it almost works. Lindy's quest to find Justin's killers follows the template of a classic gumshoe movie as she traverses the city encountering various characters, picking up clues and making wisecracks. Much like Beckinsale's offscreen persona, Lindy is refreshingly free of a filter, a female action protagonist who enjoys sex and isn't above cracking a dirty joke or two (she describes Justin's penis as unfurling like a travel umbrella). While her physical skills come into play, she also employs humour as a means of emasculating her male foes. Lindy is something of a potty-mouthed, ass-kicking modern descendant of the sort of fast-talking, smart and sassy women played by the likes of Barbara Stanwyck and Glenda Farrell in the 1930s (Jolt made me wonder how great a reboot of VI Warshawski with Beckinsale in the lead and Stillman supplying the dialogue might be). She's also completely mad, a dangerous sociopath who in one jaw-dropping moment tosses newborn babies at a cop as means of escaping a maternity ward.

Yet while Jolt is a lot of fun when Beckinsale is verbally sparring with her opponents, it falls apart once the physical action comes into play. Imagine a Stanwyck screwball comedy that keeps being interrupted by one of those sub-par Luc Besson produced action movies of the 2000s. The action scenes here are flat at best, laughably bad at worst. There's a car chase down the wrong side of a freeway that somehow manages to make such an idea boring. A now de rigeur "oner" through a hospital feels like nothing more than an action filmmaking obligation. A fight between Lindy and a bunch of male opponents is shot from behind the protagonist's head, which only draws attention to the fact that a suspiciously broad-shouldered stunt double is standing in for Beckinsale. It reminded me of that infamous brawl in Dynasty where two burly stuntmen donned drag to play Joan Collins and Linda Evans. Surely Beckinsale could have been taught some moves?

jolt review

It's frustrating that Jolt's action scenes can't match the energy of Beckinsale's witty repartee, because this is the sort of gloriously silly action movie we just don’t get enough of today. A coda involving a cameo from one of the other few Hollywood stars who seems to have a personality suggest this is the beginning of a potential franchise. If a sequel can find a director capable of assembling action sequences with the spark of Beckinsale's delivery, it could deliver the jolt of energy the mainstream American action movie needs right now.

Jolt is on Amazon Prime Video now.

2021 movie reviews