Jolt (2021) Review

Kate Beckinsale is back in action in Jolt, where she plays a bleached-blonde woman with a serious anger-management issue. That issue in question is intermittent explosive disorder and it’s not a made-up mental condition designed for the sake of this film because it does exist in real life.

Except for this film, where director Tanya Wexler isn’t interested to explore the matter-of-fact seriousness of this condition told in a grounded realism. But rather using it as a base for her colourful action-comedy approach. We learn from the beginning via a voiceover-narration montage that Beckinsale’s Lindy has already suffered from such a condition since childhood (played by Sofia Weldon and Eliya Or as 9 and 14-year-olds respectively). She’s prone to uncontrollable rage and anger and that means hurting people in the process. Her parents (Orlin Pavlov, Dorotta Bartok) are unable to do much to help with her condition other than sending her to hospitals for any possible treatments.

And yet, none of them works until Lindy’s psychiatrist Dr Munchin (Stanley Tucci) successfully control her condition by utilising an experimental therapy. A therapy where Lindy has to put on a specially-made vest that will zap her with an electric shock by pushing a button of a handheld device. This means each time Lindy is about to blow her fuse, she would have to press the button to keep herself under control.

The film is then moving on with Lindy’s first blind date with a nice-guy accountant named Justin (Jai Courtney) and despite several awkward moments, they eventually hit it off. But just as her relationship starts to blossom, she finds out that Justin has been murdered. Although the two detectives-in-charge (Bobby Cannavale’s Vicars and Laverne Cox’s Nevin) promise to handle the case, Lindy chooses to take matters into her own hands.

The last time Beckinsale played an action role was Underworld: Blood Wars back in 2016 and I’m actually glad she still has what it takes to pull off a physically demanding performance in Jolt. Looking good and amazingly athletic even she’s about to hit 47 years old this month, Beckinsale clearly has so much fun playing Lindy in this film. Most of the supporting actors are worth mentioning as well, notably Stanley Tucci as well as Bobby Cannavale and Laverne Cox.

Stanley Tucci in "Jolt" (2021)

The film is also blessed with Jules O’Loughlin’s vibrant cinematography but shame about Tanya Wexler’s direction, though as it turns out to be a mixed result. Instead of a jolting burst of kinetic-filled excitement, the film limps more than often with lacklustre action sequences. Beckinsale may have been good at throwing punches and kicks but the overall choreography doesn’t have that necessary impact to make the action feels propulsive. Not even the inclusion of a nighttime car chase at one point helps to enliven the pace.

Another problem lies in newcomer Scott Wascha’s script that lingers too long for a supposedly lean and compact 91-minute length to get to the point. And that is reaching the potential of what Lindy is capable to do if her rage goes beyond her control. Too bad Wexler is neither Chad Stahelski nor David Leitch to pull off the kind of a female John Wick or Atomic Blonde-style kickass, all-hell-breaks-loose action film. The payoff is as generic as it goes and even with Wascha trying to spice things up with some last-minute revelations including a surprise cameo, the film feels like a missed opportunity.

This is actually a pity, considering how committed Beckinsale is in her role and she deserves a better script and direction that made greater use of her talent. If that’s not enough, Jolt tries to be ambitious by concluding the film with an open ending for a sequel or possibly, a franchise. Whether we get to see another Jolt in the future is anybody’s guess (even though, according to a recent Screen Rant interview, Beckinsale “actually would like to see more”).

Jolt is currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video beginning July 23 onwards.

Disclosure: I have also reviewed Jolt for The Cinemaholic. Please note that the content of the above review is completely different from the one published at The Cinemaholic.

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