074: G.I. Jane

This is the eleventh movie in my Ridley Scott retrospective.

G.I. Jane is considered by many to be one of Ridley Scott’s minor works. I have never been one of those people. When G.I. Jane was released in 1997 it was panned by critics because of the weak script and the director’s supposed attempt at pseudo-feminism. Now, nearly fifteen years later, I have to admit that I still very much like this movie, if only for the performances by its two main actors, Demi Moore and Viggo Mortensen.

I agree that G.I. Jane has its problems. The last twenty minutes of the movie are totally unfocused and useless. It makes the Navy Seals look like a bunch of stooges with more in common with The A-Team than the badass mythical Navy Seals we have come to expect. Yes, they are fresh out of training, but that doesn’t excuse them. It just gets a little silly towards the end. Another thing that could be seen as a flaw is that fact that Moore more and more starts to resemble a man as the movie progresses. This could negate the whole ‘fitting in on my terms’ method that Moore’s character believes in. She needs to look like a man to be amongst men. Something to think about.

Even though the final twenty minutes are sub-par, the rest of the movie is surprisingly intriguing. The political maneuvering, the dynamics during the training and the sheer brutality of that training are riveting to watch. Shot with the usual Ridley-flair by Hugh Johnson, who also made White Squall and later Kingdom of Heaven, the movie looks like a postcard from the edge of sanity. It is that pretty and at the same time very gritty.

Demi Moore needs to be commended upon the fact that she gave her all for this role. Undoubtedly inspired by Sigourney Weaver’s decision to shave her head for Alien3, another one of Scott’s strong female protagonists, she decided to do this as well. It lends a tremendous amount of credibility to the tenacity she harbors for finishing this course. Although I think the way in which she does away with her hair in the movie, by sneaking into a barber shop and doing it herself, was a bit misguided. Why could she not have it clipped by the barber and have no control over it? That would be much more dramatic. Otherwise I think she does a great job. She really sells this premise. It is hard to believe she actually won a Razzie for Worst Actress for this movie. Unbelievable.

Moore, who also produced, also very much benefits from having one of the greatest actors living today across from her. Viggo Mortensen is a powerful presence, reciting poetry at the first meeting with the new recruits to make them question his sanity behind those pitch black glasses. He and Moore manage to develop a relationship, a relationship that is on the one hand based on respect and on the other hand on contempt. This interesting dynamic is what drives this picture and culminates in a fight that ends with the now famous retort, “Suck my dick.” Again, the last part of the movie makes the relationship feel a bit icky, but that can be forgiven.

I heartily recommend people revisit G.I. Jane. It is not as bad as people want you to believe.

Scott’s other movies here:
072: Thelma & Louise
063: A Good Year
058: 1492: Conquest of Paradise
049: Blade Runner
043: Alien
036: Black Rain
031: Someone to Watch Over Me
024: Legend
022: White Squall
012: The Duellists

> IMDb