You wouldn’t want to mess with Lindy. And, given that she’s played by Underworld’s Kate Beckinsale looking like an Atomic Blonde clone, you definitely don’t want to upset her! But she is the number one reason for watching Jolt, a film which puts director Tanya Wexler firmly action comedy territory.
Lindy (Beckinsale) has a condition called intermittent explosive disorder. What that means is that she can’t control her emotions, specifically her temper, and she’s also blessed – or should that be cursed? – with near super-human strength and a talent for martial arts. It’s amazing she doesn’t turn green as well. She “manages” her condition with a shock therapy, rigged up by Dr Munchin (Stanley Tucci), and gets it under control to the extent that she goes on her first date in years. Justin (Jai Courtney) turns out to be more than she could have hoped for but, just as things are really getting started for them, he’s murdered. Which means that temper and those unique talents rise to the surface again. She’s a lady with vengeance on her mind.
She’s also well-equipped to be a vigilante. “Some people drink. Some people write shit poetry. I hurt people. Might as well put it to good use.” That’s not just a summary of her singular abilities, but an example of the film’s throwaway style of humour, most of which comes from Beckinsale. It’s almost as if she’s replaced the elaborate gowns of Love And Friendship with black leather and a blonde bob, because there’s definitely an echo of Lady Susan Vernon here, but with slightly less charm. The overall result is an energetic superhero/actioner mash-up, sometimes overloud and brash, but with an engaging taste in sardonic one-liners. It throws in a touch of film noir for good measure, unable to resist a little self-parody along the way. Just look at the location for Lindy’s apartment …..
Although this is very much Beckinsale’s show, one that she attacks with relish, she’s been given an unexpectedly classy supporting cast. Alongside Tucci, there’s Bobby Cannavale as a likeable teddy bear of a cop who gets involved in her case and is clearly looking for something more. Laverne Cox – never without a bowl of yogurt and fruit to chomp on – has a nice line in playing it by the book, while Courtney’s casting as Lindy’s love interest is a complete giveaway as far as the plot is concerned. Susan Sarandon’s on the cast as well, but only appears towards the end as the Woman With No Name. We kid you not. Disappointingly, she only has one thing to do. Set the scene for a sequel or two.
Jolt is entertaining fun and doesn’t set out to be much else. Wexler has been smart in keeping it lean at under 90 minutes so that it doesn’t outstay its welcome and, indeed, that’s all it needs. Whether it needs a sequel as well – a franchise, even – is debateable.
Action, Thriller, Comedy | Cert:15 | Amazon Prime | 23 July 2021 | Dir. Tanya Wexler | Kate Beckinsale, Stanley Tucci, Jai Courtney, Bobby Cannavale, Laverne Cox, Susan Sarandon.