The early 2000s saw a trend of A-list actors doing martial arts. After Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss learned Kung Fu for The Matrix, actors like Matt Damon wanted to learn to fight for their action movies too. Kate Beckinsale had the Underwold movies as her high kicking action franchise. 20 years later, she’s still got it in Jolt.
Kate Beckinsale in ‘Jolt’
Lindy Lewis (Beckinsale) has intermittent explosive disorder. As a child, it might manifest as an episode at a birthday party, but she’s already beating boys with a baseball bat and chasing them with an axe before she grows up. Her increased cortisol makes her stronger and faster, so of course the government wants her as a weapon. At least she keeps beating doctors and orderlies while they probe and prod her.
The only cure Lindy’s psychiatrist (Stanley Tucci) can offer is a device that sends an electric shock to her body which Lindy can control herself. The shock calms her down just long enough to avoid a violent altercation and maybe get through life. When Lindy finds herself the suspect in a murder investigation, she goes after the real killers herself, and she’s not going to shock herself into pacivity.
Kate Beckinsale’s character is a ‘Jolt’ of fresh air
The above is a lot of exposition, but the montage that explains it all is a fun way to say, “Hey, meet your new action hero.” It’s a medically suspect gimmick, too, although the condition itself isn’t real either. But, it’s a fun one and Jolt follows the rules it establishes. Hey, Darkman wasn’t medically sound either but damn, it was fun.
Lindy tries to keep herself from attacking minor nuisances. When she decides to allow herself to lash out at toxic A-holes, they really deserve it so it’s satisfying. The electrode device is a beautiful design, too. Lindy has electrodes all over her body, but it’s designed artfully like a glamorous corset.
Becksinsale is supremely endearing in Jolt. She rages against annoying people from minor irritants to genuine threats. She’s adorable when she gets to be happy, but this is an action movie so she has to get angry most of the time.
Kate Beckinsale back in action
The action of Jolt includes fairly standard car chases and basic fight scenes. It’s Lindy’s character that makes it fun. That’s the whole thing about genre. You can have inventive new action that revolutionizes the genre. You can have revolutionary characters bring their unique take to genre topes. Occasionally a revolutionary movie like John Wick or Die Hard does both. Jolt isn’t quite on that level but Lindy is a character you’ll want to see again.
And Jolt is obviously intended to make her a franchise character. It would make sense to see Lindy in different adventures, so actually showing a setup for a sequel feels unnecessary. Relax, Jolt. We were already on board for more Lindy before you filmed the closing tag.