Angelina Jolie may have said no to a Wanted sequel (for another film that eventually lost her, Gravity), but that doesn't mean she doesn't know a good franchise when she sees one. Salt went from a Tom Cruise vehicle to an Angelina Jolie action classic, and it's getting a sequel. We've said it before and we'll say it again: Angelina Jolie is the first actress to transcend gender. And it’s hard to argue that any other actress can do what she can.
So why did she choose Salt over Wanted, which Universal desperately wanted her to do? Worldwide tallies put Salt at $293.5 million (62% Tomatometer) while Wanted earned $341.4 million (71% Tomatometer). Trailers for both are below.
But her decision makes sense (pending her approval of Kurt Wimmer's script) if you look at Jolie as a piece of the Wanted puzzle, but the main event in Salt (sorry, James McAvoy). Salt offers many possibilities as an action-spy franchise, as well as the added frisson of putting a woman through her action paces. Under Phil Noyce's sure direction, Jolie delivered in Salt, even though the plot was less inspired than Wanted.
Of playing Evelyn Salt, a character intended to be a man, Jolie told Vogue: “I felt it was a weird thing that every time you ask for a strong female role, it’s written in this strange way where it uses sexuality far too much. Or it’s all about being a woman and beating a man. So it wasn’t a surprise to me that the only way to do a strong female role properly was to not have it originally written for a woman.”
There is no question that Jolie adds edge and sex appeal to whatever side-kick role she's had. She stole the show in Gone in 60 Seconds, Girl, Interrupted and Wanted. She makes cars and guns very sexy. Tomb Raider and Wanted were using her sexuality to sell movie tickets, and while one could argue Salt does the same, it doesn't get her naked to do so. She's one of a kind and she knows it. She doesn't have to pander to anyone's fantasy.
There will always be naysayers and tabloids tugging at her to come down from the pedestal. But she's there for a reason. Jolie's Tourist director, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, told Vogue that the actress "gets every single script that has a female role aged between eighteen and 40—every script. And she just follows her feeling, holds her own counsel. She’s probably the only global megastar that doesn’t even have an agent—she doesn’t even have a publicist."
She's not Angelina Jolie, Movie Star, by accident. She trusts her instincts and is in a position to re-write the rules. So why not?
Sony's Columbia has Salt writer Wimmer writing #2, and Lorenzo di Bonaventura is returning to produce. There is no word yet on who will helm #2. Jolie will request a rewrite or pass should the story not be to her liking. She has that power. And that's what makes her so sexy.
There's more in our July 15, 2010 story on Jolie transcending gender.