91 minutes, Amazon Prime Video
Tanya Wexler’s action-comedy Jolt is some distance from being a good movie, but it does have a pretty good B-movie premise. The heroine Linda (Kate Beckinsale) suffers from problems with impulse control – in particular, a tendency to fits of violent rage aimed at anyone who gets on her nerves.
Despite this, Linda is at heart a nice person with no desire to hurt anybody – and so she persuades her obliging shrink (Stanley Tucci) to fit her with a special electrical device that will shock her into submission before she has the chance to do any damage.
This device is a mixed blessing as far as the film is concerned, since it leads to a whole series of vignettes that show Linda dispensing rough justice for 10 or 20 seconds at a time, before we snap back to the real world. The effect is literally the opposite of catharsis, and gets more frustrating every time it comes around.
In theory, this waiting game ought to maximise the impact when Linda finally lets loose. But after all the build-up, the pay-off doesn’t amount to much: the assumption seems to be that the female target audience will relish the idea of Linda taking control, but would be bored by fight scenes lasting more than a minute or two.
As a rule, if you want the audience to invest in this sort of zany concept, your best bet is to play it deadpan and hope they’ll meet you halfway. But Wexler goes in the other direction, giving Jolt the look of a moderately glossy advertisement, where the symmetrical framing and fluorescent colours aim for stylishness without achieving anything more than reminding us of other films we’ve seen.
Still, Beckinsale has starred in plenty of genre movies that offered less scope for her talents than this one. She treats her character’s battle for sanity as seriously as she would in a drama, and is also quite funny in a posh but earthy British way – there are more fart jokes than you’ll commonly hear outside of an Adam Sandler movie.