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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

how to pretend a movie is not about a woman (because who likes Milla Jovovich anyway?)

This new flick Survivor is not a good movie. I don’t recommend you waste your time with it. But not because it features a female protagonist. Definitely not because it features a female protagonist played by badass Milla Jovovich.

You know, badass Milla Jovovich who has headed up the solidly performing Resident Evil franchise. Okay, sure, those movies have performed better outside the U.S. than they have inside, but still: it’s not like moviegoers who like action movies don’t like badass Milla Jovovich.

So why is the U.S. marketing for Survivor pretending that she is not the protagonist of the film?

This is the DVD cover for the movie, which mirrors the poster:


What the hell is that “His next target is now hunting him?” crap. That is in no way representative of what the film is about. Pierce Brosnan in a villain, a hitman hired to kill her. He is not the one we’re supposed to be worried about. And she’s not hunting him (though of course she does end up taking him out; that’s how these sorts of movies work).

It’s like Hollywood does not know how to market a movie that features a central female character that’s not about hating high school, getting married, or having babies.

Contrast this with the U.K. poster:


Here the tagline is “Framed. Abandoned. Hunted.” Which could theoretically apply to either of them, but from the looks on their faces, it’s perfectly plain who has been framed and abandoned and is being hunted.

It’s not like the U.K. film industry has a great track record for how it treats women, but in this case, the Brits win.

On a side note, watch for Survivor’s female protagonist to get blamed for this movie’s failure, rather than the fact that it’s just dumb. It’s not dumb because of Jovovich — she does the best with what she’s given — but that won’t stop an industry that hates women from inventing another reason to hate.

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