Five tough heroines


With Scarlett Johansson’s actioner “Lucy” hitting theaters, here’s a look back on other flicks with tough women.

Franka Potente in “Run Lola Run” (1998)

Even before “The Matrix,” director Tom Tykwer was redefining electro-pop action with this simple, yet hyperkinetic story of determined Lola (Franka Potente), who needs to dash, on foot, from place to place in order to save her in-debt, mob-involved boyfriend (Moritz Bleibtreau). With a pulsating soundtrack and even animated sequences, the cult hit is proof that behind every man, there’s a steely (and speedy) woman.

Angela Bassett in “Strange Days” (1995)

From her Oscar-nominated turn in “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” to her recent stint as a voodoo badass on “American Horror Story: Coven,” Angela Bassett has made a career out of her ageless strength and take-no-prisoners attitude. Her assets have arguably never been put to better use than in Kathryn Bigelow’s “Strange Days,” which casts her as a bodyguard and combat specialist amid a turn-of-the millennium nightmare. Bonus: Her character’s name is Mace.

Sigourney Weaver in “Aliens” (1986)

The ultimate tough heroine and still the best. Few would dispute that Sigourney Weaver’s flame-thrower-, grenade-launcher- and assault-rifle-toting astronaut changed the game for strong female leads, paving the way for the likes of Angelina Jolie and even Johansson. A choice line (“Get away from her, you bitch!”) certainly didn’t hurt.

Renee Jeanne Falconetti in “The Passion of Joan of Arc” (1928)

Weaver may have changed the game, but if “tough heroine” is defined by pure endurance, you can’t do better than Renee Jeanne Falconetti’s legendary turn as the devout, yet doomed, Joan in Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1928 silent masterpiece. Tortured and tried by a jury of pitiless accusers, Joan emits unforgettable expressions of horror and haunting hope, fearing her end but consumed by her faith.

Geena Davis in “The Long Kiss Goodnight” (1996)

In “Thelma & Louise,” Susan Sarandon handled the majority of the female fugitives’ take-charge influence, but “The Long Kiss Goodnight” is Davis’s ballgame. Co-starring Samuel L. Jackson, the movie stars Davis as a happy housewife with amnesia. When her memory returns, she resumes her identity as a contract killer. No soccer today, kids. 

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