Aeon Flux is a surprisingly deep movie about life, death, and life. Rumor, and directorial statements, have it that the studio recut the movie after she was done to make it less artsy. A part of me would really like to see the director’s cut, but that is mainly because I love director’s cuts. They are almost always better in my experience than the studio cuts.

Anyways, I have seen this movie before. It was a long time ago, and I slept through most of it, so this was my first real time viewing the movie. After having seen now, I can say that it was not the fault of the movie that I fell asleep. It was all me. I worked overnights at the time, so I slept at odd times, and the people who wanted to see it wanted to see it in the middle of my sleep schedule. So what do I think about the movie, now? I like it. Very artsy in style, though artsy with blood.

It is placed four centuries after a plague killed all mankind. One man managed to find a cure and save a few thousand people, and their descendents live in a single city state now. Walled off from the world, they live in a near utopia with some dark aspects. People are having more and more nightmares as the decades go by, and people disappear from the streets. This is led many to form an underground resistance against the government, and that is where our heroine comes in.

She is Aeon, the best operative the resistance has, and it’s her job to change the future. That’s the quick intro there, and the full story gets complicated fast. Complicated in a good way, actually. Charlize Theron does a very good job playing the namesake, and in fact was badly injured doing some of the stunts. And looking at the stunts, they were looked like Matrix-level quality stuntwork to me. The movie was filmed in several real world locations that had never allowed filming before, and they are amazingly beautiful. They really nailed the idea of the paradisiacal utopian surface of the world, from the virtual world scenes to the real world botanical gardens.

All that is well and good, but did I enjoy it? Yes, I did. It’s not my favorite movie in the world, but I’m very happy to have seen it. I know the critics panned it, audience reviews are mixed, and it didn’t earn out its costs in the end. But here’s the thing. It’s an action spy movie with science fiction, philosophical, and art film elements, directed by a lady, and starring a lady. It’s not an over-the-top film like Bond, Kingsman, or those Expendables films that practically lampshade themselves. It actually shoots for being a serious movie, with real serious questions about the quality and nature of life.

I think it succeeds in that, but I can understand why it wouldn’t do as well in the theatres. Artsy, serious movies usually just don’t make great blockbusters, and the studio wanted a blockbuster, recut it as a blockbuster, marketed it as a blockbuster, and tried to get the critics to accept it as a blockbuster. Neither the critics nor the audiences accepted it as a blockbuster, and so it failed to earn out its production costs in the theatres. But I think it is a movie worth seeing. It is beautiful, well crafted, and I would greatly like to see a director’s cut version just to see what the director wanted it to be.

I’ll give the studio version a solid thumbs up for now, though.