Action Stars — Milla Jovovich

Posted: September 17, 2010 in Film, Martin Keller, News
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[Posted by: Martin Keller]

Profile: When I first started writing this column, I did so knowing that I would have to watch many films. I had a head start with the first three (Schwarzeneggar, Willis and Stallone), but with Jason Statham and now Milla Jovovich, and other profiles in the future, I have created a task bigger than I expected. A process consisting of sifting through films, choosing the ones that were must-sees and ones that would be good supplements, queue-ing them up, and waiting impatiently at the mailbox. Then to strengthen the blow, I sat through films that no one should ever have to watch, films with little to no redeeming qualities. This is an action star column, and I am aware of the odious amounts of cinematic fluff that would come my way, but I always expected decent action at the very least. Something that provoked me on at least a visceral level, that made whoop and holler, and instilled me with the confidence to crush my enemies under my boot heel. Alas, I have been thwarted, and after doing my research on Milla Jovovich, I have come away with very few positive things to say.

Quote: “Leeloo Dallas multipass.” – Leeloo, The Fifth Element

Defining Role: Jovovich’s fame can be attributed to two things, The Fifth Element (1997) and Resident Evil films (2002-present). Her role in Luc Besson’s 1997 sci-fi action flick was her breakthrough. She was the scantily clad, supreme being, the fifth element itself, Leeloo. Her success in this role is due to ass-kicking, being scantily clad, and only delivering a few lines. I must say, I am a big fan of the film, and it was my introduction to Jovovich. I was in high school at the time, and I had high regard for her, if only as a woman who could kick as much ass as Bruce Willis. Perhaps the scantily clad-ness piqued my interest. But as I’ve grown up I still love the movie and it kept me interested in seeing what Jovovich could do as perhaps the single female action star in a field comprised of men, nevermind dominated by them. Here are a couple clips:

[YouTube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eV_eGm1qgGs” &w=640&h=385]

[YouTube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0qy3JHz6X0″ &w=640&h=385]

The Fifth Element was the breakthrough, but Resident Evil (2002) solidified Jovovich’s career as an action star. The first film was truer to the video game, in that, it attempted to match the survival horror genre of the game by meshing horror, action and suspense in to the film. While in subsequent outings the films have become solely action films, with a twist of horror thrown in for color. Opting for more action has caused the sequels to be much worse and harder to watch than the original. The original was not an amazing film, but it attempted to create a cohesive and suspenseful plot, punctuated with moments of action, that would please fans of the games and those unfamiliar with them equally. The sequels have traded in quality for, I guess quantity, as there is more action, and therefore not allowing for the plot to build to any climax that anyone cares about. Compounding the terribleness is the poor action sequences that look as though they were created on a shoestring budget. The editing takes the oomph! out of the scenes, not allowing us to bask in any type of ass-kickery that might redeem the films. Here’s a vid from the third movie, Resident Evil: Extinction.

[YouTube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aj_zwtqM0OY” &w=640&h=385]

Normally, this is where I would preview and show a clip of the profiled star’s best action moment. I am, however, at a loss. As I said in the introduction, I have little positive to say about Jovovich’s action films. I am hard-pressed to think of an action sequence in any of her films that really stands out as the best. The video posted above from The Fifth Element is the only moment that comes to mind. I think that she has potential as an action star, that she can be believably tough and kick ass. I just think she is in bad movies that are poorly written and contain weak action. Her marriage to bad action movie writer/director/producer Paul W.S. Anderson (see Resident Evil, Death Race, AVP, Mortal Kombat) can only bring about more mediocre action films.

Best Non-Action Turn: Although I don’t like most of what I watched, I don’t think that Jovovich is a terrible actress. She can deliver a line and is believable in everything I’ve watched. She just needs better writing and directing. She has had many films outside the action genre including He Got Game (1998), Zoolander (2001), .45 (2006) and most recently The Fourth Kind (2009). I would like to talk about .45. It’s a small film that has flown under the radar, and it’s not a great film, but it’s watchable and takes an interesting twist in the third act that I didn’t see coming. (And not some Shyamalan twist, a twist that is organic from the plot.) Jovovich plays the battered girlfriend of a gun dealer in a seedy part of New York City. It’s the strongest acting I’ve seen her put out; she became a character I both rooted for and disliked. The strength was also in the script, she has a rather interesting monologue in the beginning of the film that will turn some red. I recommend it not as a great film, but as a film worth seeing, if only to see her turn out a strong performance. I should warn that there are some graphic scenes and there are also some downright bad scenes. Check it out.

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