'Flux': Save your bucks

In the future, the sexiest people among us will rise up to defend our freedom. They will all wear spandex.

Is there more to Aeon Flux than that? Not really - not even for true sci-fi fans hoping to see this live-action film live up to last decade's MTV cartoon show of the same title.

On both the big and small screens, Aeon Flux (Charlize Theron) is the preeminent member of an underground rebel group known as Monicans. Four hundred years after an "industrial disease" killed off most of the world's population, the city of Bregna is the last on earth. It is ruled by the same doctor who discovered a cure for the disease: the ominously titled Chairman Goodchild (Marton Csokas). Under the pretext of security, Goodchild controls and monitors life in Bregna - everything from childbirth to, apparently, fashion.

Of course, it's a stock set-up for the typical dystopian sci-fi. But as Aeon digs deeper, nothing is what it seems (except cheesy - she never quite blows the lid off that one). The Handler (Frances McDormand) sends Aeon to assassinate Goodchild, but she decides to sleep with him instead. As for the end of the film: most of the cast die in an enormous slow-motion gunfight.

Aeon Flux is one of those movies that raises the perennial Hollywood question: Why do bad films happen to good actors? In her seminal performance in "Monster," Theron proved that she could be ugly. Here she seems determined to prove she can be a lazy actress as well. Intense stares, eyebrow arches, and breathy whispers stand in for actual character depth. But since Theron is rarely clothed, audiences are certain not to notice. Helping them along, the camera drools over each titilating catfight and gazelle-like leap. Grade: D

Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and sexual content.

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