Angelina Jolie’s Salt is about to open and I think its going to be a massive hit. One big reason is that she appeals to both men and women for different reasons. Guys like her because she is hot and kicks ass. Women like her because she lives with Brad Pitt, seems to be a great mom, spends her free time helping other people around the world…and also because she kicks ass.
The success of Salt will be good news for a number of reasons. First, this is really Angelina’s first starring action role since the second Tomb Raider movie. And honestly, she is a different person since then. She was big then, but now…she is probably the biggest female film star on the planet. The other action films she’s been in since then she was a co-star. She co-starred with Brad Pitt in Mr. & Mrs. Smith and she co-starred with James McEvoy in Wanted.
In Salt she is the star. The poster is her face and her name.
This is big. I’m thinking (and hoping) that this could be the beginning of a female action franchise. This could open up many doors to other types of female action films. One thing I hope that doesn’t happen is for the studios to think that only one woman (Angelina) could front these films. We have got to find other women who can be action stars. We already got two tweens coming in action flicks. Chloe Moretz from Hit Girl is in Let Me In coming in October and Saoirse Ronan is in Hannah coming next spring.
The thing about Salt and Angelina is that it almost didn’t happen. It was written for Tom Cruise who passed because the role was too close to his Mission Impossible part. Good thing for us. Here’s what she said in the recent Vanity Fair about how the part got gender switch from Edwin to Evelyn Salt.
It started with a call from Amy [Pascal]. She asked if I wanted to play a Bond girl. I said, No, I’m not comfortable with that, but I would like to play Bond. We laughed , and then, about a year later, she called back and said I think I’ve found it.
This point illustrates just how pigeonholed women are. Even Angelina Jolie gets a call asking her to play a Bond girl. Yuck. Good for her for saying no and good for Amy Pascal for thinking outside of the box and getting the right movie so she could be in business with Angelina Jolie. Would a guy have come up with that idea?
Another interesting point:
Writing for a man, then swapping gender, is, as it turns out, the best way to create an utterly liberated hero, a character with none of the tropes that writers, even if they don’t mean to, fall back on when creating a role for women.
Jolie goes on to say that they had to take the fact that the character had a child out of the script with the gender change:
…We realized that, as a woman, if you knew your life was at such risk, you’d never have a child.
I don’t know how much I believe that. So many people do risky and dangerous jobs everyday and have families.
The author describing Jolie:
In action movie after action movie, she has played against type, creating a new type in the process. Political without being political, she’s a stealth feminist, expanding gender roles from the inside, taking the blockbuster male lead and adding a vowel to the end of the character’s first name…In a larger sense, it’s less about gender than about power, control. It’s something Jolie seemed to understand from her earliest films: no one admired a lady in distress, no matter how beautiful. Domination is the thing, revenge, the sound of guns.
This sounds like a great thriller that will push the gender envelope. I’m all for that. Opens wide July 23rd.