When you think of Angelina Jolie, there’s just so much to choose from. That face! Those lips! The family! Brad Pitt! You might even think that she’s a decent actress, given her Oscar-winning turn in Girl, Interrupted, or more recent performances that have garnered critical praise. What do I think? Angelina Jolie, action star.
It all started with the two Lara Croft movies. I am an unabashed fan. I love a good popcorn flick, and that’s exactly what those two are, although the first is far superior. Jolie totally sells the action side, and she does it without ever breaking that sexy, feminine stride. For this, she is my hero. Next was Mr. & Mrs. Smith, which gets more press these days for bringing together two of the prettiest people in Hollywood, or for the string of copycat movies that followed. And then there was Wanted. Again, unabashed fan. It’s funny, because I don’t really like violence, generally speaking, but man! That movie was one heckuva ride, wasn’t it? So much fun! James McAvoy, bemuscled, didn’t hurt either. But to me, that movie belonged to Angelina. And I started thinking … wow. An actress who is absolutely a bad-ass action hero.
That’s a little bit of an unusual concept, really. Action heroes have almost always been men. When they are women, it’s usually for one or two pictures, like Linda Hamilton in The Terminator movies (mainly the second) or Sigourney Weaver in the Alien franchise. You can’t say that those women went on to build careers as action heroes, even if they were, in some ways, the precursors to Angie. Not that she’s making a career out of such fare, either. But the thing is…she could. She’s highly bankable: men want to be with her, women want to be her; and as such, she usually manages to get hold of a higher class of script/project. All of the previously-mentioned films have turned a profit, some of them quite handily. I know she likes to bust out the high drama every now and then, but if you ask me, this is her niche. She has enough acting ability to sell whatever she’s doing, she’s got the physicality to do crazy stunts (which she does, in fact, quite often do herself), and if all else fails? Well, just look at her. I know, I know, women are more than their looks. But that’s another reason I like Jolie. She never comes off as a bimbo. There’s a brain functioning behind all that, and you can normally see it, even if she’s fighting off a killer robot or something. She saves the guy, sometimes. Awesome.
So why bring all this up now? Because the next installment of Angelina Jolie: Action Hero opens this weekend in the form of Salt. In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer:
This is being called, amongst other things, “Bourne with Boobs”. Which, you know what? Is totally fine with me. Because she is going to rock it. There are several interesting facts about this movie, that bear mentioning, and have relevance to my argument that Ms. Jolie is, perhaps, the premier female action star of our time, or will be, with a few more movies under her belt. Salt, the character, was originally Edwin Salt, rather than Evelyn. Tom Cruise was attached. He backed out. Supposedly, other male stars were approached, but somehow, it became a vehicle for Angelina Jolie. I really think this speaks to her bankability that the producers, etc. thought they could pull this off. I doubt seriously that anyone would think that they could they change the main character in a normally male-dominated genre picture to a woman, without using someone as big as Angelina Jolie. And you know what? I think it’s going to work. I think that it’s even possible that more people will want to see it because it has a female star … it makes it a little bit less of the usual Bond/Bourne rehash. Just enough difference, in watching a woman shoot at people out of a car window, and so on.
I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing it over the weekend. Never mind that’s it’s Angelina – Liev Schrieber and Chiwetel Ejiofor are not a supporting cast to sneer at, ever. Advance reviews are decent. I’ve no doubt they’ll go down a little, but let’s be serious. How many action flicks ever rank that highly on Metacritic? Everyone loves a good popcorn flick, right? You don’t go see it because it’s smart or has an interesting or intelligent script. Let us all remember that Inception is unusual for “summer blockbuster” fare. So. The reviews will be so-so, it will make plenty of money, and everyone will have a fun summer movie to go see.
And me? I get to go check out my favorite action star. Win!