One wonders if Angelina Jolie would have become an actress had her father not been Jon Voight. Perhaps her upbringing allowed her exceptional connections and nurturing of thespian talents that eventually allowed her to break into Hollywood. Of course, much of Jolie’s talent subsists in her sultry appearance and demeanor, which could have likely brought her stardom even with the absence of her famous father. Nevertheless, Angelina Jolie has indeed become a recognizable name in the realm of cinema, no doubt half in part to her relationship with Brad Pitt and the tabloids’ obsession with the couple. While she has portrayed many strong and independent women, it comes as no surprise that many of her humanitarian efforts have been to strengthen and empower women of all ages. This week’s two films highlight some interesting roles filled by Angelina Jolie.
Length: 100 minutes / 1.67 hours
As action films have evolved over the years, there have been more opportunities for strong female protagonists. Some actresses, like Michelle Rodriguez, make these roles into violent, militaristic characters. Others, like Scarlett Johannsson, tend to mold these characters into expertly trained assassins. Angelina Jolie manages to strike a delicate balance between the badass and the professional. Of course, this didn’t happen overnight. From her starring roles in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life (2003), to supporting roles in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004), these women live by their own rules. Even starring alongside Brad Pitt in Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Jolie’s character can hold her own amongst the male-dominated action heroes. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that a film like Salt (2010) can use all of Jolie’s talents to bring action to the big screen.
Two years after her rescue from a North Korean prison, Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) is brought under suspicion from her employers at the Central Intelligence Agency when a Russian defector enters their office and refuses to be debriefed by anyone but her. During his testimony, it is revealed that Salt is a Russian sleeper agent (a la The Manchurian Candidate (1962)) meant to infiltrate the CIA and execute a mission to destroy the United States. Not wanting to be captured so easily, Salt escapes and performs her own mission to survive. Memories of her childhood flood her mind as she realizes the truth of her past. Unfortunately, to get Salt to comply, her present is threatened when her husband of two years is kidnapped. Wanting to sever ties with her past, while also saving the world in the process, she turns rogue and goes after the other Russian sleeper agents to stop their nefarious schemes.
Length: 103 minutes / 1.72 hours
Much like other Oscar-winning actresses before her, Angelina Jolie received her first Oscar early on in her career for her supporting role in Girl, Interrupted (1999). This is usually seen as a vote of confidence that these actresses will go on to bigger and better things. At the very least, there are a diverse set of films in Jolie’s filmography, including Maleficent (2014) and Wanted (2008). But, as is often the case, a certain genre seems to be the prevalent force in her repertoire. Even the animated fare of the Kung Fu Panda franchise merely gives Angelina Jolie another opportunity to portray a character skilled at fighting. Of course, films like Wanted and The Tourist (2010) help to paint these characters as more mysterious than your standard action fare. This intrigue is deftly paired with the overt sexuality that Jolie can bring to these roles, which actually might be considered a step backward from previous roles.
Elise Clifton-Ward (Angelina Jolie) finds herself on a train headed to Venice after she received instructions from her lover, Alexander Pearce, to find a random man and pretend that this man is him. This ruse is meant to throw Scotland Yard off their trail, as Alexander has been dodging taxes for years and owes the British government nearly £1 billion. Of course, not only are government officials after Alexander, but the Russian mafia is as well. Consequently, Elise chooses Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp) to accompany her to Venice where they dance the night away only to find themselves in a high-speed boat chase as their creditors track them down. While it is revealed that Elise is not who she seems, there comes a moment when Frank shows everyone that he’s been hiding something significant about his true identity as well.
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 action-filled Angelina Jolie roles
Bacon #: 2 (Kung Fu Panda / Dustin Hoffman -> Sleepers / Kevin Bacon)