Released: 23rd July
Seen: 24th July
The idea of an objective review is, to put it bluntly, misunderstanding the way media criticism works. It’s impossible to just objectively state if a film is good or bad because what works for some people might not work for others. I’ve been doing this now for a few years and have seen films that I would consider as close to objectively bad as possible have some incredible defenders. I once had someone tell me that you couldn’t criticise Cats if you hadn’t seen and enjoyed the original stageplay and even then, if your critique was negative, it didn’t count… FOR CATS! Cats, a film that I don’t wanna say is responsible for the coronavirus but the fact that it was the last big thing to come out before that virus hit is certainly not helping it.
All of this is to say that I’m aware that Jolt is not a technically good movie but god damn it, I enjoyed myself with it and will now try to justify that for a few paragraphs.
Jolt tells the story of Lindy (Kate Beckinsale) who was born with a rare condition that basically makes her violently over react to even the slightest hint of anger. If you click your pen in a way that irritates her enough, she might just jam that pen into your eye, that level of anger. In order to try and control her anger issues, Lindy wears a vest that gives her a short sharp electric shock every time that she presses a button. In an attempt at normalcy, Lindy goes on a date with a nice accountant named Justin (Jai Courtney) and all seems to be going well… until Justin is found in a dumpster with two holes in his head. So, pissed off as all hell, Lindy decides to find who killed Justin and kill them and anyone else who gets in her way.
If reviews in general were about the pure objective truth, one could say that Jolt is directed in a very average way. There are no real standout shots or interesting editing, it’s mundane and perfunctory at best… but when the footage being filmed includes Kate Beckinsale throwing babies at Laverne Cox who is playing a cop that’s trying to arrest her, I don’t really care that much if the film making is that interesting. Would I like some more interesting shots, better visual design and a colour palette that stood out? Sure, this kind of film almost demands you do that… but our main character just attached a car battery to a pair of testicles that she describes as “blood ox” colour so I’m really not that fussy.
On a very technical level, Jolt would be mundane but the actual content is so gloriously and knowingly silly that it somehow elevated it for me. Perhaps it helps that the concept of a person who might kill you for the slightest inconvenience reminds me of Serial Mom and the execution of this film reminds me of a heavily discounted John Wick, which is basically a film aimed directly at me. This is my trash, I plan on rolling around in it and enjoying it. Sure some of the acting is a little weird, I don’t care that much when one of the actors gets a chance to call someone a “Kooky cuntsicle”, which had better become the name of a punk rock band in the not too distant future.
I will also admit that Jolt doesn’t go nearly far enough with the ideas it has. It’s about a woman who apparently will commit horrific acts of violence to anyone if you so much as look at her funny and none of the actual violence is that shocking. Comparing it to things like John Wick or Atomic Blonde you can see what this film was aiming for but it never gets there. If you’re going to have this idea, go all out. Make her violence actually shocking, make me worry that she’s going to go too far, or have it be so over the top that it’s just entertaining but unfortunately there is a lot of the time when it feels like Jolt is holding back.
Don’t even bother trying to understand the logic of some of Jolt, it’s not one to be logical and if you try to make it be logical then you’re gonna have a bad time. If you just go “Screw it, the Underworld woman is being chased by the hairdresser from Orange is the New Black while trying to avenge the death of Captain Boomerang” you’ll probably have a lot more fun. It’s hard to not be critical about a film like this (hell, that’s why this blog exists!) because I could quite easily point out all the flaws and places where you can see they could improve it… but then I’d have to follow it with “But I still had a lot of fun with this”
Jolt is my trash. It’s not good, but it’s fun. It won’t be for everyone, I can see a large amount of people just straight up hating it but if you hear “Serial Mom meets John Wick in a discount shop” and that sounds like the kind of thing you might get into, give it a shot. It doesn’t need to be highbrow or even good to be enjoyable, we all have our trash and this one is going on my pile.