Jolt (2021) Review
Updated: Oct 18, 2021
AMAZON Prime hasn't had the best track record this year with the quality of their original films. Chris Pratt's The Tomorrow War was a glistening example of their failures, and while Kate Beckinsale's Jolt isn't as bad as the latter, this action-packed, revenge "comedy" leaves very little to get amped about.
From a young age, Lindy (Kate Beckinsale) has suffered from intermittent explosive disorder, causing her to burst out in an uncontrollable fit of rage whenever slightly provoked. In order to control these excessive outbursts, she wears an electromagnetic vest designed by Dr Munchin (Stanley Tucci), which when self-activated, shocks her back to normality. However, after falling in love with an accountant named Justin (Jai Courtney), Lindy's homicidal thoughts become non-existent as she begins to imagine a life without shock therapy.
On the surface Jolt's premise is shockingly interesting; a woman wanting to rehabilitate herself and live a normal life, and with the help of a man who accepts her for who she is, she builds hope that love can overcome a lifelong disorder. But since the movie was written by debut script writer Scott Wascha, Jolt ended up feeling incredibly rushed and formulistic as shown by the film's sloppy opening and lack of emotional connection to Jai Courtney's Justin.
Despite delivering the best performance, Jai Courtney was introduced and killed off in less than 10 minutes, and what's even more baffling is that we are expected to care about his off-screen death simply because he was an apparent love interest for Lindy; a plot device that goes from wearisome to ironically-hilarious by the end of the movie. Some have defended Jolt's incohesive, sloppy script by suggesting it was due to the film's 90-minute runtime, but there are plenty of phenomenal movies out there which manage to create and develop compelling characters and stories with an even shorter length such as Stanley Kubrick's The Killing and more recently in 2020 with Max Barbakow's Palm Springs.
Beckinsale comes off as a character architype rather than her own character, being presented as a stoic heroine identical to her iconic role in 2003's Underworld; just without any of the qualities that made Selene compelling. She has decent chemistry with Courtney for the short time they share screentime, leading to an excruciating second act that dispatches any traction Jolt may have been building. Detective stereotypes are introduced moments after a terrible incident occurs with Lindy, and for some reason, Wascha decided this was a perfect time for a bit of playful banter between the three, creating a severe disconnect between the audience as we are left unsure whether to feel empathy or mirth for Beckinsale's tragically-written lead.
The film may have only been 90 minutes long, but its horrendous writing, poor acting and unintentionally-funny moments that showcased Lindy's violent triggers all resulted in a movie that couldn't be any more offhand if it tried. Jolt could have been an interesting venture into the psyche of a recovering IED patient if given another chance with a different team, but the inexperience of its writer and director resulted in an ill-fated film that made for a hilarious time - just not in the way Millennium Media had hoped.