Near Misses: In the Line of Fire / I Robot / Point Break
This post was originally published on Heroine Content, a feminist and anti-racist movie blog that ran from July 2006 to May 2012.
A few comments about films that could have been so much more. You'll notice that none of the posters show the female characters, though each movie has a woman in it who could have been an action heroine.
First, In the Line of Fire. How did this happen? In Lethal Weapon 3, Rene Russo played internal affairs cop Lorna Cole, who holds her own against Mel Gibson's wisecracking cop Riggs and kickboxes the hell out of the bad guys. I gave it four stars. In the Line of Fire gives us Russo as Secret Service agent Lilly Raines, who serves as the target for Clint Eastwood's sexist jokes that magically cause her to fall madly in love with him. We don't even get the satisfaction of seeing Lilly do anything, even though she's supposed to be a highly trained agent and she even wears shoes that allow her to run. If only she'd have punched someone out, just once... perhaps Eastwood?
In I, Robot, Bridget Moynahan plays The Uptight Scientist. She has a name, but she doesn't really need one, because she's the classic "smart" woman who can't see two feet in front of her without The Man to explain what's going on in the real world. The most irritating part is that the film's creators try to make you think Moynahan's character is going to grow. Once she accept's Smith's revelations, she suddenly starts dressing more like an action heroine. Leather pants, touselled hair, much more bad girl than lab coat. But then Smith hands her a gun, and she shoots with her eyes closed. Damsel in distress status follows.
Finally, Point Break. Do yourself a favor, and don't compare it to Tank Girl. Lori Petty as Tank Girl is bold, independent, and doesn't take shit from anyone. Lori Petty as Tyler in Point Break has so much potential - she's athletic, stubborn, and fiery - but in the end she only exists in the film for various men to fall in love with and use as a pawn. So sad.