Thursday, January 12, 2006

Never underestimate a woman (especially a trained assassin)

Well, a little unbelievable, to say the least. I mean, who gets blown up three times, shot, punched, drowned, stabbed, etc and still lives? Charlie and Mitch have more lives than a pair of cats. But, the movie did raise some interesting gender issues. The "bad guys" always seemed to underestimate Charlie due to her femininity. The obvious way to kill her would be to put a gun to her head, but no. Everyone thinks she's too weak, too stuck in her old life, or too girly. The viewer recognizes her indestructibility, but none of the villains believe her when she says "Spare me now and i leave you the use of your legs" or "You're going to die screaming, and i'm going to be there to watch". Only Mitch really seems to understand her; he sees through her attempt to seduce him, realizing that is only a misguided attempt to forget her 8 years as Samantha.

Another issue raised by the movie is whether or not Charlie will take care of "the" kid whom Samantha gave birth to, or if she will abandon the family. At first the viewer believes that Charlie could care less, but, as the movie progresses, she begins to refer to the girl as "my kid", rather than "the kid" and by doing so takes responsibility. The movie takes advantage of the stereotypical view of women as mothers first, and professionals second. The viewer wants Charlie to go back to her family, to be a normal school teacher and mom, despite her desire to return to her original profession, and her obvious proficiency

Although it may be easy to define Charlie as Hero, and Henessy as sidekick, it is hard to pinpoint the other elements of their characters. Charlie/Samantha changes radically throughout the movie, and never really seems to be an outsider or insider. She appears out of her league when the violence first starts, but by the end of the movie she appears to be a more than capable assassin, who knows the inner workings of government and conspiracy. Henessy on the other hand appears to be a mentor/protector figure at the beginning of the film, but by the end seems to be in over his head. He is a low budget/ex-con detective. He finds himself bloodied (or even dead?) and confused by the end, and would appear to be on the outside. Henessy is also hard to fit into the lonely cop niche, because he does seem to be reasonably well adjusted, despite being divorced. He also seems to have formed a stable relationship with Charlie by the end of the movie. Charlie could easily be called a rogue cop, but she hardly seems to have a choice; she is presented with many "Kill or be killed" situations.

All in all i feel that this movie breaks a number of the common themes, roles and characteristics of cop movies. First by including a women hero, then by creating a hero who changes drastically throughout the film, and third by keeping the relationship between "hero" and "sidekick" extremely dynamic.


Blogger Vladigogo said...

You raise some interesting issues.

Here is something to think about:
How does the film deal with the expectation of female beauty as embodied by Charlie vs. Samantha?

8:46 PM  

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