ByChristina Tenisha Small, writer at
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Christina Tenisha Small

I, like many others, am a huge fan of Action Movies. They promise crazy cool stunts, a ton of explosions, a hell of a lot of fighting, and if you're lucky, a good story behind it. It's not hard to see just how male dominated the Action genre is, movies like Mission Impossible, The Expendables and Die Hard, prove how much women don't get a look in, in these films. Sure, they may throw us ladies a small side role, but a lot of the time that goes unnoticed, in favour of highlighting a male lead.

And that's why this post exists. To celebrate, highlight and appreciate the female action heroes, that often go unnoticed. Whether they have a small sidekick role, a lead role, or a two minute scene, we're going to look at and recognise some of the most badass characters and the actresses behind them, to ever drop in on the Action Genre, in a series of posts, starting with this one.

First up, one of the most well-known actresses on the planet, a woman who has taken on a variety of roles in her career, but has been praised for her role in numerous Action Movies, it is of course, Angelina Jolie.

*girl crush, bae, wifey*
*girl crush, bae, wifey*

I-...wait, what was I saying?

She's doing it again: being perfect.
She's doing it again: being perfect.

Going to have to try extra hard to stay focused with this one. Anywho, Angelina Jolie, the 38-year-old newly married actress and mother of 6 (soon to be 7?), has had an acting career spanning more than a decade. She most recently made her directorial debut with "Unbroken" starring breakout actor Jack O'Connell, and is set to hang up her acting chops in favour of her humanitarian work, and directorial dreams.

But let's take a look back on some of her iconic Action roles, shall we?

Cyborg 2 - (Michael Schroeder, 1993)

At just 18 years old, Jolie made her debut as an adult actress in the straight-to-DVD movie Cyborg 2. As the first movie of hers to appear on this list, it's also arguably, not one of her most iconic roles. The movie itself is generally thought to be garbage, the low-budget production doesn't have many redeeming qualities, but as her first Action role, this was undoubtedly the start of a very promising career for the young actress, showcasing her abilities within the genre.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - (Simon West, 2001) + Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - The Cradle of Life (Jan de Bont, 2003)

Grrr (picture from the second movie in the series)
Grrr (picture from the second movie in the series)

In 2001, the actress took on one of her most iconic roles yet, playing Lara Croft, the titular character in one of the most popular game series, Tomb Raider. With her signature braid (Katniss, girl you better step the hell off with your copycat braid), and killer fighting skills, Lara Croft was an ideal role for Jolie.

Playing a British Archaeologist/Adventurer/Part-time badass, came easily to Jolie, who with the two Tomb Raider films, secured her place on a list of iconic female Action Characters, and the stunning actresses that play them.

Check out Lara Croft, in all her glorious action!

Mr and Mrs Smith - (Doug Liman, 2005)

That's an awfully big gun there Mrs Smith.
That's an awfully big gun there Mrs Smith.

In 2005, Jolie took on the role of Mrs Smith, an assassin with her own agency, living under the disguise of a suburban housewife. The role is one of her most well-known roles to date, mostly because of the well publicised romance that developed between her and co-star, Brad Pitt, which, to anyone who's seen the film, is glaringly obvious. The chemistry between the two was insane, but the Pitt-Aniston-Jolie debacle aside, Mrs Smith is yet another entry on Jolie's Action Movie roster.

The great thing about this film? It presents the two main characters as equals. They're both assassins with their own agency, and they're both the best at what they do. When they come to blows, it's obvious that neither of them can win, because they cancel each other out. In that same vein, when they work together, they're a lethal force to reckoned with, taking down anything and anyone in their path.

Check out Mrs Smith the fiesty assassin by night, housewife by day!

Wanted - (Timur Bekmambetov, 2008)

Get at me
Get at me

In 2008, Jolie played the part of Fox, in Bekmambetov's "Wanted" based on the comic book miniseries of the same name. A fitting part, for a fitting actress, Fox was a hardnut. A female character with all the makings of an action hero, and a wiesel of a protegee to teach the ropes to (James McAvoy). In a role that's easily become one of my favourites for her, Jolie showed us yet again, just how well female Action heroes can do in movies, and why this powerhouse of an actress, just cannot be stopped.

Whilst I'm not a fan of the one semi-nude scene in the movie, which I think always slightly diminshes a strong Action heroine, the rest of the movie gives us a perfectly badass female character, open enough to leave us interested, and mysterious enough to leave us intrigued.

Check out the second assassn to make this list, Fox!

And so we come to the very last movie to make this list. A movie that is easily one of my favourites, if not my all time favourite, for a number of reasons. It's a movie that was originally written for a male lead - Tom Cruise to be specific, but that was eventually re-written for a female lead, with Angelina Jolie taking on the titular role.

It follows one seemingly ordinary CIA Agent, who's life is turned upside down when the agency get's a walk-in by the name of Vassily Orlov, claiming that an Agent by the name of Evelyn Salt (Jolie's character) is a Russian Spy. What follows is a thrilling ride of action, intrigue and mystery, all the while leaving you with one question: Who is Evelyn Salt? She never reveals herself as guilty, nor does she reveal herself as innocent. She is indeed Russian, yet the first chance she gets, turns on those who are supposed to be her allies. Is she out for herself, or a larger cause?

I'm of course talking about

Salt - (Phillip Noyce, 2010)

A brilliant movie for multiple reasons, Salt tops this list. Evelyn Salt is as lethal as they come, and with no-one knowing her true motives for her actions, she's especially dangerous and unpredictable. One thing I love about this movie, is that it fully embraced its female lead, her fighting skills, her action scenes, her character development and history, all without the cliched and oh-so-annoying Spandex suit that has become all too familiar on female heroines.

Salt is smart, cunning, intelligent and lethal, and at no point did she need to strip off, or show off her body to prove that. Her character was rooted in a well thought out backstory, rather than a pretty women in some tight revealing clothes, a weapon of her choice and no depth to her character.

Celebrating Female Action Heroes begins here! Let me know who YOU think should be featured in this article series!


Is Angelina Jolie an iconic action heroine? Or is there someone else you'd like to see me highlight?


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