In a 25th-century totalitarian fortress city, Charlize Theron, as the solemn rebel ninja babe Aeon Flux, does slow-motion flips and twirls that show off her luxurious elongated physique to stunning effect. With slick, flattened black hair that makes it look as if her stylist was going for that Louise Brooks-meets-Hitler mystique, Theron is an arresting image, but, like everything else in Aeon Flux, she’s stranded in a trashy and derivative glum zone of fashion-runway fascism. Ordered by her underground leader (Frances McDormand, looking like she’s holding back a chuckle) to assassinate the head of the city (Marton Csokas), Aeon discovers that he’s not the baddie he seems and, in fact, that everyone, including her, is not quite what they seem.
Based on the animated MTV series, Aeon Flux has several entertaining action sequences, like one in which Theron, crawling like a spider, dodges metal blades that pop out of the grass. But the movie, while not as cheesy-bad as, say, Daredevil, generates more motion than imagination. Theron plays Aeon as a reluctant cipher who yearns to get back to a real existence. By the end, you’ll know the feeling.