Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Jai Courtney, Stanley Tucci, Bobby Cannavale, Laverne Cox, David Bradley, and Susan Sarandon.
Directed By: Tonya Wexler
Where I Watched It: Amazon
English Audio Description Available?: Yes
Is This Robodescription?: Yes
The Plot: Tale as old as time. It’s been done so many times before. A women (Beckinsale) is diagnosed with a very particular set of skills (the skill being uncontrollable rage), and the solution suggested by her doctor (Tucci), who obviously is a big fan of Crank, is for her to wear a device where she sends an electric shock to her heart before she loses her mind, bringing her back to sanity. Because she prefers a calm life, she works as a bouncer, where she meets a nice looking dude (Courtney), who finds this all to be normal, and the two start hooking up, until he winds up dead, and it turns out he was some kind of mob accountant, leaving our electrified protagonist with quite a quandary. How can she track down her boyfriend’s killer, without losing her mind? She’ll just have to JOLT!
What Works: This film is batshit in all the right ways. Jolt may not be a great film, but damn if it’s not really entertaining, even when you know how absurd the whole thing is. The premise alone, is just one you’re certain someone came up with while high on something, and it’s full of even nuttier things throughout. One of my favorite parts is a fight sequence that involves the throwing of babies. Don’t worry, it’s not to kill the babies or anything, it’s just a combat sequence that finds the need for two characters to toss babies.
And I laughed so hard at a scene where we get the audio description that a certain high ranking official that we’ve never met before is “a naked old man suspended from the ceiling by chains”. His second in command, walks into the room, sees that, and still makes a comment about how bizarre Kate Beckinsale’s character is. I literally could not. #Dead.
This is very much a stupid action film where you do actually have to remove your brain at the door, and just let the absurdity play out. I cannot call this a smart film, but I love the fact that it has the balls to end in a way that says “we’re getting a sequel”, by introducing us to a new character right at the end and directly setting up Jolt 2, and I love that it assumed it wouldn’t land in streaming hell, and has a mid-credits sequence.
This film has such unwielding confidence that I think it’s director needs to find her way into the Marvel franchise ASAP. Remake Eternals, and give this to her. One thing will then be true. It will at least be fun.
It was great to see Kate Beckinsale back in an action role. I hated Guilty Party, so I’m glad she’s moved back into roles that fit her like a glove. I normally don’t like jai Courtney, and I actually liked him here. I really loved Bobby Cannavale and Laverne Cox as two detectives that need their own spinoff or TV show. I now am craving a buddy cop film starring those two.
This was an absurdly entertaining film, sometimes for all the right reasons, but also admittedly also for some wrong reasons too.
What Doesn’t Work: Other that the fact that I’ve suggested that this is not a staggering work of genius, the only problems I really had were with the audio description. I’m not sure what I would change, because changing the tone of the film would make it less fun. It would reshape the entire project. It might be too stupid for some people who only watch high brow indies, but nobody ever likes everything, and everything is not universally liked.
I can recognize that there are problems within Jolt, but when you start trying to normalize this film, you would be taking away the insanity, and that’s what really makes this film work. There are plenty of revenge action pictures out there that play it straight, so it’s nice to see one that clearly had everyone on drugs. Or at least, the writers.
The Blind Perspective: One of the best examples of bad audio description. Let’s call this the wheelchair ramp to nowhere. You’ve built accessibility that is faulty, therefore you don’t get a pat on your back, Amazon.
First, this is definitely a robot. And the quality control here is non-existent. No human watched this and said “Yes, let’s put this out for the whole world.” Someone farted this out, slapped it on Jolt, and sent it out because blind people suck I guess, and we get what we deserve. Well, whoever is responsible for this… please stop involving yourself in the audio description process.
The first 10 minutes or so will frustrate the ever loving hell out of you, probably to the brink of madness. I thought I was going to lose my mind. The filmmaker uses Beckinsale to narrate her thoughts a lot throughout the story, and it’s really heavy in the beginning when she’s giving us backstory. But at the same exact time, the audio description is running its mouth, also a female robot, so two people are talking on top of each other. This isn’t just briefly, or every once in a while like I experienced with The Terminator, but rather, it’s quite obvious during the heavily laced expository beginning.
And while the audio description may later find its groove,and start describing fight sequences helpfully, it also reaches a point mid-movie where there’s a fight sequence, and the audio description falls asleep. no spoilers, but there’s a scene where Beckinsale and Cannavale are talking, and then a third character enters the scene and starts fighting Beckinsale. you hear the sound effects of a fight, but the audio description is dead. It’s not until this fight sequence carries into the throwing babies scene that it finally wakes up, after those two have already been fighting for a minute.
It’s problematic audio description that simply having a quality control stage would have solved. The fact that there isn’t an individual tasked with proofing the audio description when it’s done in house at Amazon is gross. If you’re going to produce it this cheap way and save on human narrators, the least you can do is pay someone to watch the film with the audio description track first. People don’t make video games without testing them, movies are screened prior to release, cars get a test drive. Why did no one listen to this before releasing it on the world?
Final Thoughts: In spite of the awful audio description, I enjoyed the absurdity that is Jolt. I would very much watch Jolt 2. This is not a smart movie. It’s a movie that manages to be simultaneously stupid and entertaining. I’d rather watch this 10 more times than have to sit through a third time through The Power Of The Dog.
Final Grade: B+
(I did love this film, but it’s just too stupid to put in the A range, though I loved it like an A grade film)