Just Give the Woman a Mul-ti-pass Already
Date of Assessment: September 10, 2010
Positive Buzzwords: Gorgeous, workaholic, Leeloo
Negative Buzzwords: Lack of focus, possible failure to live up to potential
The Case: Yes, that's right. I've already pulled out the fucking "Mul-ti-pass" card, even though it means caving to platitudes already acknowledged by certified movie dorks everywhere. In fact, I should be ashamed of making such an obvious move that's a cliché in and of itself; and is best followed by an argument that, after pulling off Leeloo in The Fifth Element, we collectively expected better of Milla Jovovich than crap like The Fourth Kind and the never-ending Resident Evil franchise. That's not where I'm going, however, because I just don't see the point in reenacting that little sci-fi dork drama, which you can already read at just about any movie site. However, I do understand the somewhat high expectations that arrive with the discovery of a supermodel who can actually act and is perfectly willing to do so while wearing some strategically-placed Ace bandages. Indeed, Leeloo was adorable and endearing in her primal strangeness, and Milla's performance -- a veritable mul-ti-pass in its own right -- opened up a hall full of acting doors. So, what the hell happened?
Well, that was back in 1997, but let's back up several more years to when 11-year old Milla was named one of the "Most Unforgettable Women in the World" by Revlon. At the time, I was going through the inevitable teen magazine phase, but at least my father had the foresight to require me to read a classic book for each purchased brain-cell killer such as YM or even (gasp!) Sassy. Now, I recall discovering Milla (who couldn't have been more than 12-years old at that point) on the cover of Seventeen; about a year later, the publication again featured her in a full fashion spread and also mugging with then-boyfriend Balthazar Getty (boy, did she dodge a bullet by losing him, or what?). Another magazine discussed the young supermodel in auspicious tones, simply based upon her grown-up attitude and audacity (which, presumably, was best illustrated by mentioning that Milla pointedly advised a hairstylist that her hair looked "better wavy than curly.") The implication, of course, was that this woman-child would one day be an out-of-control media brat.
They couldn't have been more wrong.
From there, and long before The Fifth Element, Milla broke into the acting business with some television guest appearances -- of particular note was a brief flash of comic timing as the Bundy family's foreign-exchange student in "Married With Children." Then came Return to the Blue Lagoon, which was panned by critics and gave her no more acting clout than her blink-and-you'll-miss-it stoner chick from Dazed and Confused. Meanwhile, Milla recorded vocals for her only studio album, The Divine Comedy (named after Dante Alighieri's work), which actually managed to receive much acclaim but held no commercial appeal whatsoever. Still, it's not like Jovovich even needed the acting work or a record contract, for her modeling work has never ceased to bring in unfathomable amounts of money. In numerous years, Milla has hit Forbes' list of highest-paid supermodels and even took first place in 2004. Nonetheless, the acting work has continued to accumulate, much of which is entirely forgettable if not entirely cringeworthy, which was my exact reaction to Ultraviolet. Beyond the geek-love fest of The Fifth Element, Jovovich has displayed the occasional flash of utter brilliance (.45); a few returns to comedic excellence (Dummy and Zoolander); and some deliciously B-grade thriller fare (A Perfect Getaway).
These days, mainstream audiences tend to think of Milla Jovovich strictly in terms of the ass-kicking Alice from the Resident Evil movies. In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit to not watching every film in this franchise; while I didn't mind the first installment, I just couldn't make it through Apocalypse and haven't even attempted Extinction. The position remains that Milla could certainly afford to be choosier; instead, she sure as hell ends up in a lot of shittastic movies. The Resident Evil flicks have made Jovovich a household name but, arguably, aren't entirely justified for an actress who possesses the luxury of sifting through scripts at her own whim and dividing her attentions between popcorn fare and indie vanity projects. So, why does Milla Jovovich largely persist with such pathetic excuses for movies?
Unfortunately, I don't have the answer to that question, and neither does Milla, who gave a rather confusing explanation while promoting Resident Evil: Apocalypse in 2003:
"I'm at this place right now where people are offering me a lot of money to do crappy films," she laughs in her raspy Californian drawl. "Which is actually a great thing, because before they weren't. Is it hard to say no? Yes, are you kidding? It goes against every Russian instinct I have in my body. Gee, my people lie, cheat and steal for not even a quarter of what I'm being offered, but if there was ever a time for me to say no, it's now."
Now, exactly what types of movies that Milla professes to decline shall remain a mystery, but it's an obvious fact that roles like Leeloo don't come around very often. Further, Milla's something of an anomaly as a supermodel-turned-successful-actress, and just by virtue of appearing in more than one crappy movie, she's already easily outdone the likes of Cindy Crawford.
Prognosis: Adopting the mindset of one who can cram an entire suitcase into a carry-on bag, Milla's breakneck pace continues. She's currently filming The Three Musketeers with three other movies in the can and another handful on the pre-production horizon. Presumably, she's doing exactly what she wants to do; and with two lucrative careers -- modeling and acting -- and an apparent lack of pretention, I'm not inclined to rip Jovovich apart merely because she refuses follow the standard equation of alternating between romcoms and Oscar bait. Besides, if I have to look at those damn Resident Evil: Afterlife posters, at least looking at Jovovich is a much better prospect than, say, Kate Beckinsale or Jessica Biel.
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at agentbedhead.com.