As both Branson and Bezos found out last week, pretending to be an astronaut during a lethal pandemic is a bad look for the ages; it doesn’t help that stomach-churning evidence of Amazon’s wasteful destruction of food emerges at the same time. Amazon’s treatment of film-makers is as loaded as any rigged carnival side-show; indie film-makers are unlikely to get a cent for every view their films get on the platform. So Amazon Original movie Jolt arrives on a tidal wave of bad publicity, the film feels as welcome as the kind of communal tax responsibilities Bezos and his ilk are so skilled at avoiding.
The specs are rote; Lindy Lewis (Kate Beckinsale) suffers from intermittent explosive disorder, which causes her to lash out in emotional ketchup bursts of violence. Her handler, Dr Ivan Munchin (Stanley Tucci) has created a vest that delivers electric shocks to her system, and allows her some degree of control of her condition. A couple of dates with an accountant called Justin (Jai Courtney) awaken plenty of feelings from Lindy, particularly when the local NYC cops (Bobby Cannavale and Laverne Cox) tell her that Justin just wound up dead. Lindy finds herself a suspect, but can she overcome her IED and apprehend those responsible for her predicament?
Jolt comes across as a female reboot of the Crank movies, with Lindy’s mood-swings controlled by a little red button on a remote, presumably not like the junk fire-sticks that Amazon sell which stop functioning shortly after purchase. There’s some juice in this idea, but the supposed New York locations are unconvincingly tatty for a film shot in the UK and Bulgaria, while the constant interruptions to show the audience Lindy’s violent fantasies are repetitive and exhausting. Tucci has some fun with dialogue about Lindy’s ‘cutting edge, avant garde’ treatment, but the cast are otherwise as glum as the shop-worn concept.
‘You’re in for a shock’ say the posters for Jolt, but the only surprising thing here is that popular stars like Beckinsale, Tucci and even an unbilled Susan Sarandon cameo can be conjured up so cheaply. Sure, money solves everything short-term, but reputational damage sets in when a film sets its sights so low. Cannavale and Cox’s characters experiment with a new line of swearing here by creating new profanities by linking existing ones; ‘f*ck/hell’ or ‘d*ckbag’. That’s about the level of innovation here. Tanya Wexler’s supposed thriller is just the latest dud in the annals of streaming fiascos; maybe from space it looks like a movie, but here on earth, it’s just another emetic corporate scam.