Review: Jolt Relies Heavily on Kate Beckinsale’s Charisma

It has been a while since Kate Beckinsale played an action role and the last time she did that was ‘Underworld: Blood Wars’ in 2016. Since then, she has ventured into dramatic roles, as evident in 2017’s ‘The Only Living Boy in New York’ and 2019’s ‘Farming’. She also appeared in Amazon Prime Video’s 8-episode ‘The Widow’, which marked her rare appearance in a TV series.

And now, it’s nice to see her back in action in ‘Jolt’, where Kate Beckinsale plays Lindy. At the beginning of the film, we are told through a voiceover narration that she has been diagnosed with a serious anger-management issue known as an intermittent explosive disorder since childhood. She tends to get mad pretty easy such as how she would shove a bully’s face into a cake during a birthday party. Her parents tried to get Lindy treated by doctors and not even her brief stint in the military service actually works to control her condition.

That is until she finally manages to suppress her anger by undergoing an electric shock treatment with the help of her psychiatrist, Dr. Ivan Munchin (Stanley Tucci). It was more of an unconventional experiment, where Lindy requires to put on an electrode vest and the only way to prevent her from raging uncontrollably is to simply push the button of a car lock-like buzzer. So, whenever she’s about to burst into anger, she would often press the button that will send some electrical jolts through her body.

After spending a long time living solo, Lindy tries to get into a relationship. More of a blind date, where she meets a mild-mannered accountant named Justin (Jai Courtney) in a restaurant. Although she is skeptical at first, but after going through a couple of successful dates and which includes ending up sleeping together, Lindy has finally found her man. Now wildly in love, she claims she doesn’t need to rely on the electric shock treatment to keep her under control. Then, something bad happens when she finds out from two police detectives (Bobby Cannavale’s Vicar and Laverne Cox’s Nevin) that Justin has been murdered. From there, she determines to find out whoever is responsible for his death and seeks vengeance.

Kate Beckinsale is perfectly cast as Lindy. Sporting a vibrant bleached-blonde hairstyle and armed with a sassy, don’t-f***-with-me attitude, this is the kind of a badass role that is right in her wheelhouse. She’s charismatic and can be funny with her dry-witted humor. Her co-stars that include Stanley Tucci and the two bickering cops played by Bobby Cannavale and Laverne Cox are all nice additions, where they bring colorful supports to their respective roles.

But the film, which positions itself as an action-comedy, turns out to be a mixed bag. The thing is, ‘Jolt’ has plenty of potential of a gleefully violent B-movie fun with a sexy lead front and center. And yet, director Tanya Wexler (‘Hysteria’, ‘Buffaloed’) mostly botches that opportunity with her haphazard and generally pedestrian direction. Sure, there are plenty of action moments on display but Wexler lacks the necessary finesse to pull them off. Whether it was hand-to-hand combats or a high-speed car chase, the action sequences in ‘Jolt’ falls short of expectations. For an action-comedy film that carries the title ‘Jolt’, it doesn’t have that kind of a satisfying jolt of energy (no pun intended) desperately needed to elevate the material.

Then, there’s Scott Wascha’s first-time screenplay, which spends too much time going around in circles. This, in turn, makes the otherwise lean 91-minute length feels longer than it should. Despite Beckinsale’s energetic performance, there is only so much she can do here. Frankly, it was such a waste because she clearly deserves better. Even by the time the story did try to turn things around by adding not one but two twists during the final third act, where the latter obviously sets up for a sequel, it wasn’t just enough to overcome most of the film’s shortcomings.

Frankly, if it weren’t for Beckinsale and some of the supporting roles here, ‘Jolt’ would have been a total miss of opportunity. Whether or not we get a sequel remains to be seen but for now, this film, which can be currently streamed on Amazon Prime Video, is pretty much a half-baked effort. Assuming Amazon Prime Video plans to greenlit a sequel in the future, let’s hope they can do better the next time around than just relying heavily on Beckinsale’s charisma alone.

Rating: 2.5/5

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