As someone who loves a good fight scene and has experienced quite a few Kate Beckinsale movies in his day, I went into Jolt with cautious optimism. While I’ve never been bowled over by one of the Underworld movies, Total Recall, Van Helsing, or her forays into the thriller/mystery genre (Vacancy & White Out), they have always managed to achieve a lazy Saturday kind of watchability–even if only to chuckle at the silliness on display. Jolt mostly falls under that same umbrella, which is both completely expected and a little disappointing.
Lindy (Kate Beckinsale) has had anger management issues as far back as she can remember. Actually, “severe rage” would be more accurate–the kind that often ends with the broken bones and hospitalization of others. With the help of her therapist, Dr Munchin (Stanley Tucci), she’s learned to keep her violent impulses at bay via electrodes she uses to shock herself out of it when the urges kick in. Jason (Jai Courtney), the first guy she’s ever actually liked much at all, winds up a homicide victim soon after they meet and Lindy makes it her mission in life to find those responsible so she can finally put her natural talent for severity to good’n violent use.
Before getting into why Jolt isn’t a very good action movie, I will say it’s actually pretty humorous and Beckinsale made me laugh quite a few times. Between her energetic performance and several amusing lines delivered nicely, she brings a fun energy to everything while keeping things moving. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her be as funny as she is here, so while nothing else really rises above mediocre there’s at least amusement to be had.
The rest of the cast are okay, except Laverne Cox (as one of the investigating detectives) is a fairly weak link. Considering the way her character is written–she’s awful at her job–I think Jolt would have been better off without. Example? She suddenly opens fire on an unarmed person of interest, for one, then draws her gun in a hospital nursery like a lunatic, and generally behaves like one of those shoot-first problem cops seen on the news.
There’s also an unnecessary expositional prologue sequence that seems to go on forever in addition to some sequel setup towards the tail end, plus nine minutes (!) of credits. If you were to leave out all that fluff the 91 minute runtime would drop to around 75 minutes so I understand why all the padding is here, but it still lifts right out.
The biggest offense, really, is the fact that the fight scenes are so instantly forgettable. I’m sure I’ve been spoiled by the fight choreography in things like Atomic Blonde, the John Wick series, Haywire, Nobody, etc but Jolt just doesn’t measure up. It’s quickly cut, glosses over too much of the action, and all feels a bit like a mid-budget TV pilot. The exterior sets, for instance, often have a distinct studio backlot aesthetic and many indoor scenes are in drab, dark room after drab, dark room.
If there were just one amazing action sequence with a bunch of pretty okay movie around it like the church scene in The Kingsman: Secret Service (or even a “meh” movie like Anna with one solid scene of mayhem) I could be a fairly happy camper. Oh well! If they ever make the sequel and actually put some effort into worthy fight sequences Kate Beckinsale could have herself another good action franchise for one of those aforementioned lazy Saturdays.
Overall, Jolt might be good if you’ve never seen a movie before in your life. That’s the only way you won’t see every plot beat coming a mile ahead or expect more from the action sequences. If you weren’t born yesterday, though, then go in expecting to be more mildly amused than thrilled or excited and you should be fine.
5 out of 10 Amusing Beckinsales