Oh, Angelina. She of the plentiful lips, the intense bedroom eyes, the long, lithe body, promising nothing but suggesting so much. She’s the perfect screen goddess of our century, a talent and star so convincing of her strength that she manages to transcend gender; her charisma and power recall not only icons like Greta Garbo and Elizabeth Taylor but also Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson. Indeed, with her newest picture, Salt (a vehicle originally planned for Tom Cruise), producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura stated of Jolie: “She’s not a female action star; she’s an action star.”
If you want someone to get the job done, one would not question Miss Jolie’s abilities. Surpassing Uma Thurman kicking butt so beautifully in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, or Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2, movies in which the female action lead was taken seriously, Jolie has made a career out of punching opponents, shooting off rounds and kicking down doors within a primarily, male dominated genre -- Action. We’re surprised Stallone didn’t cast her in The Expendables – no one would have batted an eye.
With that, here are eight great Angelina in Action...movies.
Foxfire (1996) No, this is not an action film. And it’s certainly not one of Jolie’s best films, but young Angelina! She has a way of grabbing what could have been a tedious high school rebel yell and dragging it across the floor, kicking and screaming. Not surprisingly then, her character’s name in this gritty, bad-girl melodrama is “Legs” and not in the ZZ Top, miniskirt manner; more like, legs that will climb over the edge of a bridge and retrieve some shy girl’s portfolio, which she does indeed pull off in Foxfire. That’s pretty badass. And cool. And all of the things that will make every character in the movie fall for her – even getting tattoos in her honor.
Girl, Interrupted (1999) We realize this is, again, not exactly an action picture, but again we say, so what? When Miss Jolie shows up as Lisa and says to a frightened nurse, “Take one fu**ing step closer and I'll jam this in my aorta," well she pretty much pulled a Kill Bill Uma – she “roared” and she “rampaged,” and she got “bloody satisfaction” when deservedly winning that Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 2000 – perfectly kicking off the century for our modern-day screen goddess. Though the picture technically stars Winona Ryder as troubled Susanna Kaysen, biding her time in a young loony bin for young ladies after overdosing on aspirin, it’s Jolie who pulls the rug out from everyone. As the female Randle P. McMurphy of this female cuckoo's nest, Jolie's slinky troublemaker blasted through the movie with the kind of feral intensity and wit of a Nicholson or De Niro. No one’s gonna interrupt her. And another thing, “don’t point your finger at fu**ing crazy people!”
Gone in 60 Seconds (2000) A remake, of sorts, of the far superior 1974 picture, Dominic Sena’s Gone in 60 Seconds carries little distinction save for a charismatic cast (Nicolas Cage is the lead), cool cars and, of course, a super-sexy Angelina Jolie. She’s given another cheesy moniker in this one -- “Sway.” Yes, her name is Sway. To which I ask, why not “Strut”? And then play the Bob Seeger song every time she enters the room? Regardless, she manages to star alongside the always interesting Cage as more than mere arm candy and falls right in line with the rest of the car stealing crew, including Giovanni Ribisi and Robert Duvall. Cage may be pining after a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 -- codename "Eleanor" – but Jolie is just as coveted. And kick-ass.
Lara Croft: Tom Raider (2001)/ Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003) Adapted from the uber-popular, uber-sexy video game, Jolie equipped herself quite nicely in the mold of action goddess Lara Croft, so much so that no one really thinks of Lara Croft without envisioning Jolie. The pictures boasted enormous budgets and starred a charismatic Oscar-winning lead, but neither quite delivered as the action treats they should have been. And yet, she is awesome—tiny T-shirt and all. The two-picture franchise was rather humorless, but it was great fun to simply watch the Jolie humor that makes both those franchises so enjoyable – particularly when she punches a shark. Yes indeed, Angelina punches a shark.
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) Two words: Eye patch. And how about three? – sexy eye patch. Only true tough guys can kick a whole lot of butt wearing eye patches (like John Wayne in True Grit), so of course Jolie is allowed to sport one here, managing to be fearsome, sexy, cheeky, kinky and, well everything anyone’s girlfriend would be afraid of leaving their boyfriend alone with for more than three seconds. In a smaller role (Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow are really the stars), the gorgeous picture casts Jolie as Commander Francesca "Franky" Cook -- commander of a Royal Navy flying aircraft carrier. Of course she is. Though she only spent about three days making this movie, her role is unforgettable, and her scenes with Law are electric. There are many who adore this movie and its artistic/technical achievements, and there are those who nearly fall asleep while watching it. But not when Angelina walks on screen. 2-D, 3-D, whatever. Only the good Lord can create those kinds of dimensions.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005) This movie is now so infamous as the movie in which Jolie and her equally attractive co-star Brad Pitt fell in love, that many forget just how much great fun it was. And underrated. Working as both an action film and a wonderful deconstruction/ satire of marriages gone a bit dry, Mr. & Mrs. Smith is high gloss and high octane and highly intoxicating. Jolie and Pitt play play a married couple who are going through the typical marriage motions, not knowing that both are secret assassins for certain shadow organizations. When they learn must turn against each other, the picture steams up and taps right into what makes Jolie so mysterious and sexy and funny and smart in the first place. If she’s running around the house with a gun and an evening dress, or her husband’s shirt, or whatever, never once do we doubt this woman’s power. Never once do we simply say “Oh, how cute.” She’s actually a bit scary and as a result, thrillingly exciting.
Wanted (2008) Yet another underrated Angelina performance and movie, the highly violent, highly enjoyable Wanted, in which Jolie almost reaches camp in just how slinky-cool a bad girl she is here. But we repeat – almost. She’s too good of an actress to make her role as an assassin named Fox mere pout, even when saddled with the name “Fox.” These names! As if we need any more reminding of Jolie’s hot-to-trot merits. But she rolls with it, and truly gives James McAvoy’s once shy, mild-mannered Wesley Gibson the workout that allows him into the “Fraternity” of assassins. Watching Jolie’s shoot-out in the streets of Chicago via upside-down car is pretty damn exciting and it’s not a surprise that this act makes him finally walk off his desk job and seize his inner fighter.
Salt (2010) Never mind if the movie is receiving mixed reviews, Salt is a career changer in the history of movies – for women anyway – though we wonder how many will be able to follow Jolie’s ferocious footsteps. Playing a master spy (a role that was reportedly offered to Tom Cruise and was written for a man), she’s essentially the female James Bond, donning different disguises, and fighting off foes after surviving a North Korean Prison and never offering any dirt on her boss – the CIA. Directed by Phillip Noyce, Salt finds Jolie in all kinds of elaborate, well-executed stunts, stunts that are typically reserved for men. But again, as we underscore, Jolie is not like the Chaka Khan song “I'm Every Woman." She’s Angelina Jolie. As Frank Sinatra might say – it’s her world, get used to it.