Is Angelina Jolie The New Clint Eastwood?

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Salt comes out this week. In it, Angelina Jolie stars as a CIA agent accused by a Russian defector of being a Soviet double-agent. With her husband gone missing and the entire US government after her, she goes on the run to figure out what’s going on. But as we watched Jolie’s latest thriller and reflected that she’s not quite like any other actress today, we got to thinking about who she does resemble, and we came up with her Changeling director, Clint Eastwood. Here’s why:

DISCLAIMER: This article was written by a huge Angelina Jolie fan. Obviously.

Unlike some other actresses, Angelina Jolie seems well hard. Halle Berry’s never had to fight anyone for more than a few minutes (without using a sudden meteorological event), and even in something like Catwoman, they made the baddie a girl so she’d mostly be, well, catfighting. Nicole Kidman doesn’t do action (well); neither does Roberts, or Aniston or Witherspoon; Jovovich isn’t quite A-list. It’s all on Jolie when it comes to kicking ass and taking names in starring roles, and she does so with a steely determination that recalls Dirty Harry at his finest.

Watch Wanted, try to ignore all the nonsensical Loom of Fate stuff, and focus on how entirely believable Jolie is as a stoic assassin with her own code of honour. No other actress in cinema could have played that role – standing in the corner, saying almost nothing, and still being the most magnetic thing onscreen. It’s pure Clint as the Man With No Name frankly. Apart from the whole bendy-bullets thing.

There’s a scene at the very beginning of Salt (the very beginning; this isn't a spoiler) where Jolie's Evelyn Salt is released from a gruelling spell in a North Korean prison. Walking across the DMZ to freedom, she asks her boss why she was freed, and he tells her that it was because her boyfriend petitioned the government and threatened to kick up an almighty stink if they didn’t organise her recovery. Said boyfriend appears at the other end of the bridge, waiting for her. Almost without moving a muscle, she looks like she’s going to fall over from loving him so much, like her heart might break from it. She doesn’t shed a tear; there’s barely a twitch on her face, but it’s all there.

See also: her restrained performance in what could have been melodrama in A Mighty Heart, and even The Changeling, probably the closest she’s come to histrionics but still a long way from it. Go ahead, imagine someone else in that role, and the emoting that would have been ours.

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