Review: ‘Jolt’ (2021)

Jolt stars Kate Beckinsale as a rage-filled woman named Lindy who has a nasty habit of beating the crap out of people who either irritate or insult her (or those around her). She’s short of an MMA Hannibal Lecter, with the rude, selfish, and unsympathetic people of the world as her would-be targets. She’s been this way sense birth and has spent her entire life trying to manage her short temper with medication, meditation, and experimental therapy.

These days she has it under control – mostly – due to a shock vest that she wears at all times. Whenever she finds herself feeling the need to wail on someone, she pushes a button and gives herself a (you guessed it) jolt of electricity to shock herself back to “normal”. She sees a therapist (Stanley Tucci) on a weekly basis who monitors all of this.

He keeps pushing her to attempt to supplement her experiment treatment with an emotional connection. So Lindy tries dating and, to her surprise, she manages to find a guy named Justin (Jai Courtney) that she really likes. He’s sweet, he’s funny, and he’s understanding. He’s the first human being that she has been able to stand in a very long time. Since this is an action movie, however, she’s destined to lose him as a catalyst for the brutality that must eventually come. Cliched? Certainly, but it’s nice seeing the guy get fridged for one.

What sets Jolt apart from something like John Wick, Nobody, or Atomic Blonde is that Lindy isn’t on some brooding path of revenge. Vengeance is very much on her mind, but she’s oddly upbeat about the whole thing. Justin made her feel happy to be alive and while he may be gone, that kindness left its mark. So interesting of a grumbling, angry middle-aged male badass wandering around a city tuning up every goon in sight, Lindy is very upbeat and understanding as she carves out her carnage-ridden path to get to whomever is responsible for her loss. She attempts to settle things without violence whenever possible and goes out of her way to not hurt people that don’t deserve it.

Action-wise, there’s nothing new here. The fight sequences aren’t choreographed or shot in an interesting way. There are no show-stopping moments. What makes Jolt memorable are its characters, be it Tucci’s droll and matter-of-fact therapist, Bobby Cannavale & Laverne Cox as a beyond-charming pair of cops, or Beckinsale’s Lindy herself. Even Jai Courtney, of all people, gets the chance to be charming!

Jolt is no instant classic, nor is is one of the best films of the year. It is, however, are surprisingly sweet and charming little actioner that leaves you entertained due to its cast and characters. The story is nothing new, but I had fun spending time with these people and would happily do it again, should a follow-up ever be made. After all, how often are we handed an action movie where our protagonist’s motivation revolves around someone being really nice to them?

That said, if we do get more, can we please just ignore the godawful attempt at a Nick Fury moment in the closing minutes? It’s easily the worst part of the movie (although the opening narration comes close) and a piss poor way to utilize the talents of Susan Sarandon. I don’t need a Jolt 2 where Lindy is running around doing missions for some spy organization, thereby making things even more generic than they already are. The strength of this film is in its characters, not overdone cookie cutter action narratives. Less tropes, more heart. Please and thank you.

Jolt is an original action comedy. It was directed by Tanya Wexler, from a screenplay by Scott Wascha. The film was produced by David Bernardi, Sherryl Clark, Robert Van Norden, Les Weldon, and Yariv Lerner. It stars Kate Beckinsale, Jai Courtney, Bobby Cannavale, Laverne Cox, Stanley Tucci, Ori Pfeffer, Sophie Sanderson, Steven Osborne, David Bradley, and Susan Sarandon.

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