Kate Beckinsale is no stranger to stunt-driven, heavily punctuated action sequences. Her work in the Underworld series remains a career high-point, and it is one I find myself revisiting time and time again. Her newest is Amazon Prime’s Jolt, which allows Beckinsale free reign John Wick-style, as well as the use of her natural accent and ability to show off her charming comedic timing. It is my favorite straight-up action movie of 2021 so far, surpassing Nobody and Wrath of Man.
Lindy (Beckinsale) was diagnosed with “intermittent explosive disorder” at a very young age, abandoned by her mother in an asylum and could not live safely in the world around others. Her “disorder” makes her faster and stronger than normal, but also angrier and more volatile. She erupts into fits of violent and murderous rage, which are virtually uncontrollable. The military was supposed to give Lindy structure, but even that did not tame the wild beast inside. There has been a sudden breakthrough treatment which is subsequently Lindy’s only chance at normal living: a fitted electrode vest, known as Jolt, shocks the user in the throes of their urges and stops them dead in their tracks.
Still in the earliest stages of using Jolt, Lindy, at the encouragement of her probing therapist (Stanley Tucci), sets out in the dating world to put herself to the ultimate test. During the course of an adorable and awkward first date, Lindy and Justin (Jai Courtney) have an instant connection. They share weird first date stories, pet peeves, and personal quirks. Lindy doesn’t fart because she is from England, and Justin’s has nut allergies, which their waitress adamantly refuses to accommodate. Not one for dating, Lindy relents eventually and only takes a rushed seat with Justin, saying she will “just have the chicken really quickly”. When Lindy goes to the bathroom, their date comes to an abrupt close. Lindy overhears their waitress making fun of Justin’s food allergies (she literally uses the word “pathetic”) and she snaps, beating the woman senseless and fleeing.
Lindy heads back to her therapist, convinced that the Jolt device must be faulty since it did not stop her—“penis is not gonna fix me, Dr. Freud.” He encourages her to continue going on dates and assures Lindy that Jolt works perfectly fine. Justin eventually comes over to spend the night at her place. She initially has flashes of neck-snapping sex and his luscious booty, but Justin puts her fears to rest. He isn’t turned off by the vest at all, whispering in her ear that “it doesn’t matter.” The next day, they part ways, with the promise to reconvene so he can cook her some halibut at his place. Lindy is beaming—she has finally found someone who accepts her flaws and whom she can be herself around. The therapist is overwhelmed with her enthusiasm, reminding her to take things slow. She says “I finally want to talk about dick; you should be salivating!”
From here, things take a surprising turn. Lindy receives a call from an officer: Justin is dead, and his body was found in a dumpster. Her pain reverberates in an entirely relatable way, as she reels from the upsetting news. On what was to be the night of their third date, things were cut horribly short. Once the shock wears off, Lindy sets out to solve the mystery behind Justin’s death. The cops think she is a prime suspect after she steals evidence from lockup, so they are on her tail around each bend. Her hunt will stop at nothing, including tearing out multiple piercings from her attackers, and torturing a club owner by his literal balls. The violence is visceral, bone-crunching, and well-choreographed. One of my favorite shots in the movie is a long, one-take sequence, where Lindy flees Detective Nevin (Laverne Cox) through a bustling hospital. A soaring baby tossed in the air at a maternity ward is maybe the smartest “I trust the cops” gesture you could possibly envision.
The first act builds up Justin and Lindy’s relationship to rom-com heights, and by the end of their second date, I was wondering how this bond would play out through the rest of the film. The shock of his death is felt in every action that Lindy takes to avenge him, as it becomes clear that what she felt could only be described as the earliest stages of love. Bobby Canavale’s understanding and helpful Detective Vicars fills the positive male energy void after Justin’s departure, but the absence is felt heavily. Director Tanya Wexler and writer Scott Wascha make sure you never forget Justin’s character as the film progresses.
Lindy herself is badass and committed, faithful to the only person she has shared a legitimate connection with in as long as she can remember. The next closest thing is her therapist, only he is not what you would call a real friend. Beckinsale is terrific in this role. Jolt feels like it was tailor-made for the seasoned action actress. An epic Lindy moment in the last act had me cheering at my screen. It is a clear crowd-pleaser that is going straight to streaming, yet will hopefully inspire suave watercooler conversations. A sequel setup makes me anxious to see more from this world. I hope it sees success on Amazon Prime, because if Jolt is indeed an early franchise starter, I am already more invested than that Tom Clancy universe they are attempting. More Beckinsale, world-building, and Susan Sarandon in Nick Fury mode, please!
Jolt gets a burst of electricity when it comes to Prime Video on Friday, July 23rd.