G.I. Jane (1997)

(On DVD, October 2016) Hollywood has a tradition of progressive message movies, but few of them have been as muscular as G.I. Jane. Nominally about the integration of women in US combat forces, this Ridley Scott action thriller quickly goes for a harrowing portrait of the SEAL training process, violent harassment of its heroine and a quick action mission to top it all off. Wrap everything in the American flag, well-shot military images, pulse-pounding music and it ends up being a recruitment video that incidentally has a female protagonist. Demi Moore was at the height of her fame in 1997, and part of the film’s power is seeing one of the lead female actresses of that time adopt the gruff aggressive mannerisms of the men she’s asked to surpass, shaving her head and proving her resilience by making a crude request to suck on an appendage she only metaphorically possesses. Against some expectations, it actually works. The military sequences are handled competently, and there’s just enough story wrapped around them to make it interesting. Moore is impressive (far more so than in the thematically linked A Few Good Men) and Scott is able to transform what could have been a preachy script into an effective propaganda piece for both feminists and militarists. It has aged surprisingly well.

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