Friday, July 23, 2010

See Salt. Or else.

Ever since I heard Salt had switched to a female protagonist I've been antsy for opening weekend. I keep hearing all the time "Don't write an action film with a female protagonist." Every time I tell someone about my latest project they sort of give me this tsk tsk response, like I've made a big mistake with my life and I should really learn to write about men or stick to romcoms.

So I prayed for Salt to be good. I was going to force all my friends to go see it if it sucked, just to give a minuscule push to the box office. I'm relieved that fans of action say it's good.

Because you know what they'll say if this movie fails: People just don't go see female action heroes.

It has nothing to do with whether or not it's a good movie, of course. I mean Alien, Terminator, Nikita, Run Lola Run, Resident Evil - those are all flukes, right? Nobody wants to see a woman kicking ass.

But if it does well.... oh if it does well, then we're back, baby. If this movie makes money in a season where nothing is guaranteed, the first thing studio heads will do is to look around for the next Salt.

I'm waving my hand hello.


  1. I just saw SALT...


  2. Yaaaay! See that's what I want to hear!

  3. Anonymous9:56 PM

    Keep the good vibes coming for Salt.

    This is from The La Times:

    The movie has received largely positive reviews.

    As the rare action movie with a female protagonist, “Salt” is enjoying higher interest among adult women in pre-release surveys than is typical for the genre.

    The most important question for the picture, however, is how it will perform overseas. Jolie is one of the few remaining A-list stars who's hugely popular around the world. Her last two starring roles in action movies, Ramona“Wanted” and “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” both generated about 60% of their box-office revenue overseas and Sony is expecting returns for “Salt” to be similarly strong abroad.

  4. Thanks for passing that along. Cool stuff.

  5. I think Salt looks amazing. And I love movies with a tough, capable, woman in the lead.

    But here is my question. Can you name 5 A-list actresses that you think would be believable in an ass kicking role?

    Jolie isn't big but somehow I believe her in any action role.

    Milla Jovavich isn't A-list.

    Scarlett Johansson is gorgeous but I didn't believe for a second she was taking out all those guys in Iron Man 2.

    Who else is there?

  6. Anonymous3:28 AM

    I didn't realise there was a rule about female action films, n00b that I am. Funny, will be reviewing my incomplete BIG SISTER screenplay in a new light. Thanks for the post.


    Zephyr -- a superhero webcomic in prose

  7. Matt,

    You're right in that no-one besides Angelina Jolie on today's A-list of actresses could probably carry off an action lead (Cameron Diaz did well in Charlie's Angels I thought, but that's got a slightly different approach to action than you I think you mean)

    But I would say it's not about today's A-list - it's about tomorrow's. Team a great actress with a great action script and you'll MAKE an A-list star. Here's a nice piece I just caught:

    I've got plenty of action-orientated roles for women in mind, but I'm looking to the actresses in their late teens, early 20s now, and calculating a few years in advance. (Zack Snyder has beaten me to Emily Browning with Sucker Punch. I hereby call dibs on Kristen Stewart and Clemence Poesy for action roles)

  8. One, I think A list is not easily defined these days, since people who used to be able to open a movie no longer can.

    And two, the reason you can't name female A list action stars is because we haven't had any female action hero movies. If we write the movies, the stars will create themselves.

    My eye's on Zoe Saldana.

  9. I find the name the actress debate interesting. If people are willing to watch frail-looking Keira Knightley and Kate Beckinsale beat people up they'll accept anyone.

    Piper Perabo and Maggie Q are newly minted tv action leads and as far as a-list actresses who could play a Bourne or Salt character -- Carey Mulligan, Hilary Swank, Rachel McAdams, Halle Berry, Natalie Portman, etc.

    It's packaging. It's not testosterone that counts.

  10. Nice choices, people.


    I'm not up on all the current "hot young things". I was just thinking of past A-list actresses and wondering if I'd find them credible in the types of roles Jolie pulls off.

    There were few that seemed to be that type. I wish Jennifer Garner had had more of a chance to bring her toughness to movie roles. She was more than physically believable as Sidney on Alias.

    But it can also be faked, I suppose. I look at Sarah Michelle Gellar and I see a tiny little thing, but through the wonder of editing she destroyed the undead for seven brilliant years.

  11. Anonymous11:50 AM

    Folk et all ledn me your ears,

    What good reviews, this moviee sucks, gave it a crap raing. what is the mater with you guys. this is so-so movie, acctually, so very so-so,
    my god you guys are really lost on this one, Jihaad Punk, if you had to direct a moviee, i dont want to see the kind of movei you make
    lol, SALT, pasthetic Mrs. blake and Jihaad, go read what the the criticis in NORTH america ARE saying, SALT,a versy so-so clhick flickI rather see an action movie made with the brillance of HANGOVER or THE RAT RACE or SAVING PRIVATE RIAN...


  12. I am throwing Michelle Rodriguez here in the mix, she is fantastic, tough and badass, but I wish she would get a leading role in an action film, I'd love to see that.

    La Jolie, of course, is HUGE.

    Milla Jovovich is great, but "Resident Evil" is fantasy/horror action, so I am not sure if she counts.

    Who else?

    Zoe Saldana can do an action role if given the chance.

    There are rumors that they might cast a South African rapper to play Lisbeth Salander in the U.S remake of GIRL WITH A DRAGON TATTOO. I dont know her music, but from her photos, she looks tough (I know, I know, you can't judge an actress from their photos)... also, I wouldn't say that GIRL WITH A DRAGON TATTOO is an action film, but still a very tough, badass female.

    someone here mentioned Kristen Stewart. Excuse me while I laugh my ass off!!! She is a terrible actress and comes off as very weak, annoying and repetitious. But maybe she could do better in an action role than with those Twilight crap.

  13. P.S to Anonymous with terrible spelling and grammar-- ummm, who cares what people say on Rotten Tomatoes? why dont you think for yourself? Make your own fucking judgement on a movie before you let others tell you what to think of a movie. Jesus fucking christ.

  14. Jihad,

    I've been following Kristen Stewart's career since Panic Room (where she took the fight to a hulking Dwight Yoakam, if you recall) and believe me, she is a damn good actress. Did phenomenal work in a movie called Speak among others.

    She might annoy you, but I think I can do wonders with her on screen. When I make the movie one day I'll pass you on a free ticket so you won't feel ripped off if you hate it, fair?

    (By the way, yes, I'm no-one right now and that all sounds a bit grandiose, but everyone needs to have confidence in their work, right?)

    I share your admiration for Michelle Rodriguez though. I laughed out loud in Avatar when she pulled the gun on the guard: "Yeah, you know what that is." Her movie career path has evolved to the point she doesn't even bother to tell people she's holding them at gunpoint any more, they can just assume it.

  15. Is it weird that I find Michelle Rodriguez both tough and sexy? Well, I'm weird then. I think she's very underrated. Was that movie called Girlfight? Good performance in that one.

    I like the look of this Zoe character.

    I am on the negative side with Kristen Stewart. I just find her dull, and very repetitive in her acting techniques. She nearly ruined Adventureland for me.

  16. Few things...

    I read the Salt screenplay a few months ago and loved it. I don't care that they changed the role from male to female (probably makes sense from an "I want to sell my screenplay" perspective and it makes sense from a "Holy shit, Angelina Jolie wants to do this movie" point of view as well ). But if you've read the screenplay, which is awesome, the movie will disappoint. Not because the movie is bad, it's not, it's rather kick-ass, but because it's sad to read a thrilling, clever, page-turner and then have all the thrilling, clever parts yanked out. It makes no sense. All the clever is gone. It's like they bought the screenplay and adapted it like it was a novel. It's Jason Bourne all over again.

    Oh well.

    I dig woman as action stars, but I think it takes a hell of a lot more than just writing an action script and doing a find/replace for "he" to "she" and "him" to "her". It's hard to watch a 110 pound woman knock out a 210 pound man with a punch and believe it. I think writing female action hero's is tough stuff. To me, the great action scenes are the ones that use the landscape with inventiveness and creativity. The one's that don't end in a silly ground and pound but quick thinking, courage and tenacity. Yah, there's got to be a fight here and there, but the good guy shouldn't be the toughest, just the smartest.

    Oh, and the South African rapper? Her name is Yo-Landi and she turned down the Dragon Tattoo role to focus on her rap tour. But yah, she is the fucking shit. Eyee, eyee, eye, I am your butterfly, I need your protection, be my samurai.

  17. I thought Long Kiss goodnight was fabulous, but the world did not agree (65mil budget, only 90mil worldwide box office)

    Loved Salt script, so happy to hear Jolie was cast.

    Required for worldwide success, white male leads (why I think they went white with airbender), no female leads, and swap in white folk for cast folk of color on all posters. Odd market globally (even varies by country), and I think that's one factor impacting Hollywood's scaredy cat casting decisions.


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