· The Finical Filmgoer ·
On Tuesday evening M. Chariot attended a screening of Salt – the new, double-agent action thriller directed by Phillip Noyce and starring Mlle Angelina Jolie, M. Liev Schreiber and M. Chiwetel Ejiofor. I am here to confess I was rather shaken by the proceedings. Departing the cinema on trembly legs, I found myself ruminating about the cinematic trend depicting women in mortal combat, which I recall starting with films like La Femme Nikita and then Kill Bill. Really pushes one's Bachelor's Button, does it not?
It's quite one thing to see gentlemen engaged in bloody cinematic brutality, leveling punches and kicks, slashing each other with knives, being perforated by a hale of bullets and hurtled into glass cabinetry and such. Although in real life such extreme violence is typically over in a matter of seconds, in film these kinds of things do go on and on, if you don't mind my saying so. Choreographed for maximum barbarity, film violence discomposes refined gentlepersons (like you, dear reader) the world over!
But when we feature the fair sex in this brutalizing scenario, that sense of vulnerability, of terror, is amped up considerably, in case you hadn't noticed! Yes, yes, heroines in such films are unvaryingly ruthless, trained assassins who are apparently accustomed to being pummeled to a tooth-spitting pulp. Far be it from me to be a partypooper at the slaughterhouse, but one does have some difficulty finding one's bearings midst the haute couture and carnage.
Still, Mlle Jolie, we are reassured, revels in spectacles of this kind. Her recent Vanity Fair interview explains that she adores acting in violent films – she just doesn't care to watch them. A telling insight, to be sure. But what are we to make of such remarks? Perhaps "I'm happy to make 90 million dollars inflicting bread and circuses on a drooling public, but I'll be damned if I'm going to watch something this brutal myself." Besides, she's too busy as goodwill ambassador for the UN or somesuch.
An athletic actress who enjoys executing her own stunts, Jolie works diligently with top stunt trainers and choreographers to bring a lurid savagery to the populace. Thus we get to see the distinguished beauty herself, "kicking ass" so hard her bloody Jimmy Choos thrust fashionably out her opponents' esophagi – and we can see her pretty face while she does it. A bonus of sorts.
Unfortunately, Jolie's enthusiasm for doing her own stunt work is, if one doesn't mind my saying so, the film's weak point. For violence this sensational, a professional stunt stand-in willing to take a few hard slams here and there goes a long way, thank you most kindly. Although Jolie's stunts are breathtakingly choreographed within an inch of her luminous cheekbones, there is a distinct sense that the heavily-insured star is being handled a bit more delicately than action film stuntpersons typically require.
Think about it: what stunt fighter wants to be the guy who accidentally kicked Angelina Jolie in the face? Talk about losing your job – to say nothing of being sued for a kajillion dollars.
Which brings my third wife to mind.
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