1997 - R - 125 Mins.
|Director: Ridley Scott|
|Producer: Ridley Scott, Demi Moore, Roger Birnbaum, Suzanne Todd|
|Written By: David Twohy, Danielle Alexandra|
|Starring: Demi Moore, Viggo Mortensen,
Daniel von Bargen, James Caviezel, Morris Chestnut
|Review by: James O'Ehley
Should women serve in the military in combatant roles? I’ve read that they do in Israel, but nowhere else in the rest of the world (except for a few war-torn African countries, which abhorrently employ children as soldiers too). Men fighting in wars might be okay with seeing their male comrades’ heads getting blown off, but the sight of a woman comrade getting killed might psychologically be too much for them. Bombing defenseless civilians might be morally acceptable for soldiers, but not sharing living quarters with women. Raping and pillaging little villages might be okay, but seeing one of their own (a woman) getting raped will be dispiriting. People are funny that way.
Listen ... Mayooonaisss, wait wrong movie.
The 1997 G.I. JANE starring Demi Moore (what exactly did happen to her career?) is at no point really interested in addressing any of these issues. Instead it is more concerned with showing us exactly just how tough U.S. Navy Seal (an elite American navy unit) training is. As if we didn’t know it already. Director Ridley Scott (ALIEN, BLADE RUNNER) is more intent on filming what seems to be both a training video and advertisement at the same time for the U.S. marines instead. G.I. JANE is shot in his typical “gosh, it looks like one long ad” style he perfected (and probably invented!) throughout the Eighties.
The movie concerns Demi Moore who as a trial run of sorts is the first woman ever to undergo the tough Navy Seals training. Along the way she is singled out for abuse by an opera-loving and D.H. Lawrence quoting drill sergeant played by Viggo Morttenson. Yup, this role is even more fantastical than his hunky Aragorn role in the LORD OF THE RINGS movies.
Predictably Moore's character not only finishes her training, but earns the respect and trust of her prejudiced male compatriots. Yup, this is THE KARATE KID for the military alright! In Ridley Scott’s sequel, BLACK HAWK DOWN, they all go to some miserable third-world country and happily slaughter hordes of locals . . .
G.I. JANE is just as superficial as any piece of Reaganite hokum ever produced (TOP GUN by his brother Tony, for instance, but without the blatant homoeroticism). A ridiculous climax, featuring ubiquitous Arab villains and involving a half-baked rescue mission, is taken straight out of some 1980s actioner – MISSING IN ACTION or maybe IRON EAGLE.
Your tolerance of G.I. JANE will probably depend on your tolerance of all things military. If you believe like actress Anne Bancroft (who plays a U.S. senator in the movie) that women shouldn’t serve in the military – and men shouldn’t be either – then this isn’t the movie for you. If you believe like the dearly missed American comedian Bill Hicks that the military are nothing but trained and hired killers, then you’re definitely probably not considering renting this movie right now.
You also shouldn’t be fooled by the film’s faux feminist credentials either. Demi Moore famously snarls “Suck my d*ck” in her best Sigourney Weaver in ALIENS impersonation at one point! It might seem like girrrlll power when a woman can also compete in the tough macho male-dominated world of the military, but when emulating the worst of male behavior is seen as empowering then you know that feminism took a wrong turn somewhere. If THELMA AND LOUISE, also a Ridley Scott movie, were men they’d be rightly seen as self-centered jerks.
The problem isn’t that Ridley Scott is the Leni Riefenstahl of the U.S. military industrial complex, but that the man has no politics at all. As with BLACK HAWK DOWN, he isn’t really intent on making propaganda for the U.S. military – he merely wants to make a viscerally thrilling movie. BLACK HAWK DOWN is more intent on replicating the aesthetics of a violent video game, a sort of contemporary ZULU or ALIENS. G.I. JANE has no opinion on whether women should fight in men’s wars – we are just expected to go gosh! wow! look at how tough Navy Seals training is. If the movie had more of an ideological backbone then it would be much easier to either love or hate. Scott just loves all those gratuitous smoke machines too much.