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100 Kick-Ass Female Film Characters – Part X

At last we reach the final part of the 100 Kick-Ass Female Film Characters – the blame for the delay lies with me and my unorganized schedule. But we made it. Thanks to all that contributed and followed the series. Rather than rattle on about the following submissions in this intro, I would like to dedicate a huge chunk of this series to Carrie Fisher who sadly passed at the age of 60 on the day we originally published this very piece. It is both awful and apt that this happens the day we post this piece, which features one of the actress’ greatest roles. Rest in peace, Princess.

100 Kick-Ass Female Characters - Part X

Mathilda Lando – – – Léon: The Professional (1994)

Natalie Portman broke into the movie world in some style. One of Luc Besson’s finest, has slick hitman Léon (Jean Reno) cornered into offering a diverse form of guardianship towards the 12-year-old Mathilda, following the murders of her family. As their partnership develops, Mathilda tames the reclusive killer, turning the dedicated, methodical Léon inside out, revealing a heart and soul.

Learning the tools of the trade, you might say, how to kill, how to survive, Mathilda proves herself a stubborn but smart cookie. Their innocent affections run both ways, she teaches him to read, and I guess in turn how to interact with the outside world. The final gesture from Léon as he takes his victory from the enemy is to say that it was “from Mathilda”. – – – Robin Write

Nikita – – – La Femme Nikita (1991)

Jean Reno’s hitman “cleaner” first appeared in Besson’s earlier La Femme Nikita (the original French title), this time the kick-ass-defining woman is the main event. Part of a gang that robs a pharmacy, Nikita (Anne Parillaud) kills a police officer and is sentenced to life in prison. After her death is faked, she finds herself n the hands of government officials were she is given a choice: die, or become an assassin.

Nikita is trained in computers, martial arts, and weaponry – also gets a boyfriend and dabbles in ravioli. Nikita prvoes to be a ruthless killer, her final test before “graduating” is her first official kill, which takes place in a busy restuarant – not only completing the task in hand, but somehow shooting her way out of an almost impossible ambush. – – – Robin Write

Helen Sinclair – – – Bullets Over Broadway (1994)

Even during a normal conversation, stage diva Helen Sinclair plays all of her lines to the back row, and by the time she says, “Don’t speak,” for the twentieth time, the results are uproarious. Dianne Wiest’s larger-than-life interpretation of the buffoonery that results from the self-centeredness of stardom is the foundation on which Woody Allen builds his hilarious gangsters-in-the-wings comedy.

Wiest steals every scene she’s in, always making her entrances grand, as if we have all been waiting for her, plot be damned. Her scattergun ego fires in all directions, from her incredible excuses for being late to her overt disdain for anything or anyone who diverts attention from her, then she moves on like a passing hurricane. The Allen/Wiest partnership is magical and has garnered two supporting Oscars.

Their creation, Helen Sinclair, simply – and deservedly – vacuumed-up all possible acting awards that year. In an interview, Wiest is quoted as saying, “Unless you are unique, your opinion goes out the window.”  In Bullets Over Broadway she inflates this adage to the size of a parade float, all the while maintaining a streak of vulnerability that draws our affection as well as delight. A perfect kick-ass performance. – – – Steve Schweighofer

Trinity – – – The Matrix (2000)

What Blade failed to do, the Wachowskis and Carrie-Anne Moss succeed in when they created The Matrix. They made it look incredibly impressive and uncomfortable to fly around in head to toe leather. Carrie played Trinity, the pistol wielding and agent kicking badass tasked to take Neo on his journey to save the metaphorical world that normal humans are too blind to acknowledge.

One only wishes that Trinity was more heavily featured in The Matrix trilogy instead of focusing on a reliance of CGI and poor acting from Keanu Reeves. Carrie-Anne should have led the movie and cemented herself in the conversation as one of the greatest Sci-fi heroines. – – – Mike Austin

100 Kick-Ass Female Characters - Part X

Marge Gunderson – – – Fargo (1996)

A charming example of a successful, respected and well-liked female police officer, wife and expectant mother. Marge uses her likeability to disprove the people who doubt her ability to solve the cases she’s assigned to, and the triple murder in Fargo is no exception. She also demonstrates particular skill in compassion and rational thinking, especially when compared to her male colleagues who she regularly corrects or surpasses in terms of interpreting clues.

In Marge we see a unusually sweet respect for life, as the mother-to-be manages to crack the case and catch the killer with as little damage caused as possible, and her ability to detect the goodness in the world remains as strong post-drama as it was at the start. – – – Rhiannon Topham

Amélie Poulain – – – Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain (2001)

Paris’ very own Emma Woodhouse is a diamond in a modern French fairy-tale through the visionary brilliance of Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Amélie is a whimsical child with a vivid imagination, but grows up somewhat lonely, a waitress in Montmartre set on fixing everyone else’s lives. Audrey Tautou lights Amelie up on screen, a character who although isolated, has a noble, unselfish way about her, and wears her heart of gold on her sleeve.

A determined, emotional young woman, taking on and doing what it takes to complete her missions of love and loss. She also has a mischievous side, playing a clever prank on the bully greengrocer. Her ultimate task though is to find love, and the moment it strikes her she goes to extreme lengths to fulfill her own happiness. Finally. – – – Robin Write

Hermione Granger – — Harry Potter films (2001 onward)

Hermione Granger is the type of badass that doesn’t break down doors or fire a gun. She might have to fire off a spell or two when she’s in trouble, but her biggest asset is her brain. As beloved as they are, the Harry Potter films have always faced Death Eater-level scrutiny from those who never thought the adaptations fully captured J.K. Rowling’s magical world.

One of the things you can’t overlook or deny, however, is the casting, and one of the strongest assets is Emma Watson as Hermione. Ms. Granger might be a know-it-all at times, but she’s tenacious, fearless, and unshakably intelligent. While Harry Potter and Ron Weasley constantly fought with Draco Malfoy, she was the only one who actually punched him in the nose.

Hermione is able to keep her cool while squaring off against dreaded witches, Muggle-born racism, and battling the stupidity of boys during the unstoppable tidal wave progression of puberty. Her passionate curiosity and thirst for knowledge supports the notion that brains are mightier than brawn. – – – Joey Moser

Clementine Kruczynski – – – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

In a film which can safely be described as visual poetry, Winslet’s Clementine is the iambic foundation onto which everything rhymes so lyrically, making it impossible for both Joel and the viewer not to fall deeply for her personality’s ever-changing rainbow waterfall. She doesn’t need to wave her arms to get our attention, there is no reason for extremes; she just has to be there, eyes sparkling with a passionate lust for life, feet dancing carelessly amidst societal norms and expectations to a tune that only echoes between the fluid confines of her own fading anamnesis.

Yet, against all odds, we hear it. Unbeknownst to her, the music flows out of her in billowing waves, swelling up to a crescendo of charm condensed where she so offhandedly becomes a muse, a pixie inspiration capable equally of undiluted love and irreparable pain. Like a modern age Helen of Troy, Clementine Kruczynski is a beautiful, unstoppable force that drives and evokes, that causes and affects the lives of everyone she brushes shoulders with the feather-light touch of her enchanting individuality. – – – The Greek

Rey — Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)

Friends of mine have shown a certain disappointment that Star Wars: The Force Awakens allowed itself to follow A New Hope‘s blueprint. But they might forget what they truly want from a Star Wars movie, making me suspect their fan rating of the franchise. Perhaps modeled a little on Luke from Episode IV (and for very good reason), the introduction of Rey (a remarkably assured breakthrough from Daisy Ridley) is so effective, and so truly fitting within the Star Ward mold, we could almost forgive the first three episodes.

Let’s see: Living a poverty-stricken, but hard-working existence, Rey befriends the droid BB-8, is soon accompanied by Finn, pilots the Millennium Falcon, meets Han Solo and Chewbacca, discovers Luke’s lightsaber, and later out-matches the rookie evil one Kylo Ren both in physical combat and through the power of the mind – you know, she has the force. – – – Robin Write

100 Kick-Ass Female Characters - Part X

Princess Leia Organa – – – Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Well, what can’t we say about the great Princess Leia? In Star Wars Episode IV  she is rescued, but hardly requires heroes, she is a tough cookie with a mouth to match. In The Return of the Jedi Leia puts those men (Han and Luke) in their place once and for all, kicks some Biker Scout ass speeding through the forests of Endor, and is injured by a blaster in battle.

Years and years later she returns in The Force Awakens, in command, and having to live with the fact her now grown-up son has fallen to the dark side. Leia’s truly defining and most dominant chapter comes in The Empire Strikes Back. Still having the upper hand in spite of her repressed rage, Leia’s loving yet turbulent relationship with Hans Solo continues to, can we say, blossom.

Amidst the AT-AT battle, the fatherly revelation, Yoda’s training, The Empire Strikes Back is integral to Leia’s character too. The very moment she feels Luke’s cry for help is an unforgettable projection of her role within the franchise – and credit goes to Carrie Fisher for nailing every nuance of Leia’s essential presence. – – – Robin Write

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Check out all previous nine parts here:

Part I   Part II   Part III

Part IV   Part V   Part VI

Part VII   Part VIII   Part IX


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