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Amazon Studios/ Millennium Media
Reviewed for & linked from Rotten Tomatoes by: Harvey Karten
Director: Tanya Wexler
Writer: Scott Wascha
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Jai Courtney, Stanley Tucci, Bobby Cannavale, Laverne Cox, Susan Sarandon
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 7/9/21
Opens: July 23, 2021

A teenager who has skipped school to see an action movie every day for six years might be able to guess at a series of twists that arrive toward the conclusion of “Jolt.” The rest of us will just have to wait for surprises, and when they come, we are likely to care not a whit. This is because this mediocrity billed as an action-comedy—one that cannot in good faith be called even a dark comedy—is predictable, stupefying, with intrusive music that never succeeds in jolting our own emotions. The only surprise is the way Kate Beckinsale appears with bleached-blond hair, looking a decade younger, and speaking in her queen’s English despite the film’s New York location, but one which has given jobs to scores of Bulgarians in the crew, on location in their fair country.

As Lindy, Beckinsale, in the role of a young woman, tries to repress the kind of anger common to a group of smart but troublesome teens listening to one boring teacher after another but holding themselves back because their parents will buy them Maseratis if they get into Harvard. Repression goes only so far. When she lets loose as an adolescent, watch out, and when in the military, she is put into the ring with some tough, uniformed fighters to their painful regret.

Her only hope is a clinical trial, if you will, supervised by Dr. Munchin (Stanley Tucci), her psychiatrist, who clips suction cups to her body as if tripling down on an EKG. When she is about to explode, she pushes a button, gets a jolt from a would-be pacemaker, and survives like a driver with road rage returning from a brief Fourth of July vacation baffled that he is the not the only one on the highway. Now under control, she dates Justin (Jai Courtney), a nice-guy accountant who is good enough to introduce her to the pleasures of sex and the anticipation of cooked halibut the next day in his place. When Justin is murdered she goes on the warpath to find his killer, restrained for a while by detectives Vicars (Bobby Cannavale) and Nevin (Laverne Cox).

Finally face to face with the man she seeks, she is educated by Gareth Fizel (David Bradley), who in a teachable moment instructs her that a lobster shares almost all DNA with a cockroach. Beckinsale is in almost every shot, nice to look at, doing her Wonder Woman impersonations with the usual, cheap editing favored by fight coordinators.

Big flaw: yes, she has a short fuse. But where does she get the power to knock out three bruisers at once? Amazon may be able to ship goods overnight to Prime members, but Amazon Studios, this time, fails to deliver at all.

91 minutes. © 2021 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story – C
Acting – B-
Technical – C
Overall – C

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Harvey Karten is the founder of the The New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO) an organization composed of Internet film critics based in New York City. The group meets once a year, in December, for voting on its annual NYFCO Awards.

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