Jolt is an ironically-titled dud, its rote thriller stylings utterly unervating.
Tanya Wexler’s Jolt is like a fake movie playing on the television in a better, but probably still mediocre movie. It’s a cheap but slick product, nothing but a piece of content used to pad Amazon’s release schedule and destined to fall into obscurity on a platform designed only to advertise the new. That fate awaits much better films in the streaming era, too, but in Jolt’s case, it’s for the best as it’s doubtful anyone who sees it will have reason to remember.
Misanthropic Lindy (Kate Beckinsale) has an impulse control disorder that causes her to have violent outbursts whenever this historically irritable woman is mildly annoyed. She wears a high-tech shock therapy rig that delivers jolts of electricity to keep her in check, devised by her mad scientist therapist played by Stanley Tucci in a single-location role that likely took all of an hour to shoot. The action proper starts with Lindy having good sex and feeling cured — Wexler directed 2011’s Hysteria, so orgasms as psychological cure is nearly an auteurist stamp — before her very nice new man (Jai Courtney) turns up dead, bullets in his dome. She sets off on a revenge tour, digging up her beau’s shady past and putting herself on a collision course with supposedly untouchable gangsters she finds with ease.
Two detectives played by Laverne Cox and Bobby Cannavale pursue Lindy — Cannavale in more ways than one — alternately impeding and assisting her quest for revenge. These two are among the least believable cops ever put to the screen, given to a grating repartee and a numbing take on the good cop-bad cop dynamic. Their performances are downright bad — even Cannavale, who’s usually charming even in the worst dreck, like last year’s Superintelligence, seems mostly lost — and their in-movie methods are nonsense. In one scene, before Lindy has even begun her avenging, Cox’s character, largely characterized as by-the-book, opens fire on Lindy on sight in her own apartment building. This isn’t Wexler making a statement on police brutality toward white British women, but rather just one of many stupid, forgettable sequences used to fill time. Later, Beckinsale and Cox will listlessly toss newborn babies at each other in another “comic” chase sequence.
For a movie about someone with a psychological need to kick ass all the time, there is a surprising dearth of action in Jolt. Perhaps Wexler knows that fight scenes aren’t her directorial forte and tried to steer clear, but the promise of Kate Beckinsale throwing down with goons is the only reason to keep watching. Alas, there are only two or three such scenes, all of them brief and none of them good enough to elicit any reaction at all.
If there’s anything good in Jolt, it’s the brief early section that finds Beckinsale and Courtney’s characters on their first dates together. Those scenes suggest a cute and potentially sexy romantic comedy about a woman who can’t stop beating people up, a movie that would have been considerably more interesting than this rote thriller, and more to Wexler’s strengths besides. There is a shock of life in the pair’s sole sex scene, Courtney softly kissing every inch of Beckinsale as he removes the strange device from her body node by node, that is sorely missing from every moment of the thriller that follows. Hot sex and genuine intimacy offer more of a jolt than Kate Beckinsale electrocuting a dude’s ballsack in a bad Man on Fire impression ever could.
You can stream Tanya Wexler’s Jolt on Amazon Prime Video beginning on July 23.