People experience all different kinds of reactions to being provoked. The most passive among us will avoid confrontation at all costs, whether it’s from a desire to remain unbothered and antisocial or out of a genuine fear of a potentially violent escalation of the situation. Others seek out conflict after even the most minimal catalyst, eager to take out aggression on whoever dared to tempt them. Some feel the need to respond a certain way even if they wish they didn’t, an idea that makes for an action-packed, rage-fueled ride in Jolt.
Lindy (Kate Beckinsale) struggles with anger management. But for her, it’s a major issue since, when she gets angry, she can’t control herself, and anyone in her vicinity ends up getting hurt. She’s developed a workaround for this lifelong neurological condition, which is a button she can press to shock, or, more accurately, jolt, herself out of it while she is wearing an electrode vest. It’s an effective enough solution that its inventor Dr. Munchin (Stanley Tucci) even encourages her to date. When she meets a perfect guy, Justin, (Jai Courtney), she thinks everything might change, but when he ends up dead, she’s ready to do everything she can to indulge in the trigger she’s always tried to hold back to get her revenge.
This film is interestingly specific about Lindy’s condition without managing to explain why she is the way that she is, instead showcasing a number of quick montage spurts to summarize the havoc that Lindy has wreaked when she has let her destructive tendencies get the best of her. The fact that Dr. Munchin has a gun at the ready every time Lindy bursts into his office because he knows what she’s capable of says plenty, and even Lindy sees this uncontrollable urge as a way to blow off steam and vent her frustrations with the world and this irremovable burden.
Unsurprisingly, there is a considerable amount of violence to be found in this film, most of which is directed at those who deserve it. While Lindy does imagine the terrible things she might do to Justin if she wasn’t able to jolt herself, she also goes ballistic on a waitress who responds cruelly to Justin’s request for food accommodations on their date, a punishment that doesn’t at all fit the crime. There is a recurring theme of vengeance against a culture of chauvinism since nearly all her male opponents scoff at the idea that any woman could match up against their obvious physical prowess.
Director Tanya Wexler, whose previous movie was the similarly female-focused Buffaloed and also starred Courtney, helms and paces this film as an action piece, honing in on Lindy’s desire to better herself and the occasional opportunity to be a good Samaritan, using her “gift” to help those in need out when they’re the ones being oppressed and hurt by more powerful aggressors. Beyond being virtuous, Lindy is cool and fun to watch, and it’s great to see her catch her assailants by surprise and make them wish they had never crossed paths with her mere moments after looking her up and down and sorely misjudging the situation.
The script from debut screenwriter Scott Wascha is peppered with clever dialogue and sardonic retorts, which make watching its hour-and-a half runtime appropriately involving. The direction of the plot, on the other hand, leaves much to be desired, following an expected course and dependably offering a highly predictable twist that audiences should easily be able to see coming. As is so often the case these days, the shameless setup for a sequel ends the action almost too early, confident enough in the eagerness of those watching to return to this world to avoid a concrete ending. Another installment would likely offer more of the same, which is lightly entertaining content that leans much more heavily on its structure than its actual content.
Jolt debuts exclusively on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, July 23rd.