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There’s not a one of us who hasn’t been engaged the routines of daily life, only to be momentarily distracted by something wonderfully unexpected, sometimes to unintended consequences. Perhaps most common is the beautiful woman, the source of perhaps an untold number of accidents and mishaps for those who let their eyes drift. In movies, the pretty girl has long been a means for such things with a flash of leg here, a bit of cleavage there, a toss of hair or a come hither glance and well, the trap is set. Let’s take a closer look at two great moments where a stunning woman had such effect, turning tables and shifting plots … all without saying a single word.
In the 1995 action comedy Bad Boys, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence play a pair of wise-cracking Miami detectives who investigate a huge sum of heroin money stolen from the police evidence vault. This leads to the involvement of a young woman (Téa Leoni) who is witness to a connected murder and by circumstances has the boys impersonating the other. The Michael Bay production was a critical failure but a huge audience favorite, spawning a sequel, and introducing a number of now familiar ‘Bay-isms’ employed in many of following films.
At the start of the film, we meet Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) and Mike Lowrey (Smith), with both riding in Lowrey’s Limited Edition black Porche, a vehicle of which he takes great pride and is none to pleased when Burnett, attempting to eat a fast food fries, spills a few between the seats. You can understand the concern.
This prompts Lowery, in a sudden fit of mock fury, to turn the wheel hard and pull the car car over to a stop in order to berate his friend and partner, demanding he clean up his mess, prompting another bit of banter about hand sizes and matters of engineering. In their zippy back and forth, they don’t notice that behind them, another car has pulled up.
From that vehicle, out steps a tall, statuesque brunette (Lisa Boyle), wearing a skimpy white one piece, wide open at the top and legs up to her neck. Donning a pair of shades, she struts alongside the Porche and then saunters in front, absolutely getting the attention of both boys who can appreciate the beauty of a beautiful girl over a squabble about fries. Lowery more than Burnett.
What that does though, is have them lose their edge just long enough for the girl’s partners (a pair of gun-totting hoodlums) to sneak up and get the drop, pointing pistols to the cop’s heads, looking to jack the car. I’ll skip the outcome of that and spin it back, rightfully, to the beautiful Boyle, who so thoroughly steals this scene, the reason for her and the situation itself almost become forgettable.
Her distraction is sublime, and what works so well is how fully Boyle develops the character in the brief seconds she is on screen. As she climbs out of the backseat of her car, you can already get a sense of her importance, and yet there is an impromptu feeling about the situation that gives it a bit of humor. She straightens herself, once out of her car and standing, and there is fantastic little wobble in her walk before she slips into model mode and struts to her target, giving her a wonderful sense of humility and humanity. She makes her part resonate simply by walking, without saying a single word. How many people left this movie and immediately tried to figure out who she was? That’s impact.
The 1999 sci-fi action film The Matrix is a groundbreaking masterpiece in cinema, one of the greatest made in the genre and one of the most influential movies, ever. It revolves around the idea that modern man lives in a computer simulated illusion, fabricated by a collection of machines who harvest people for energy like batteries. In this dystopian future, a few have escaped and band together to free humanity, putting their hopes in the legends of a one called Neo (Keanu Reeves). A hugely popular and critically-acclaimed film, it spawned two less-than-well-received follow ups but remains a landmark in movie history.
Neo is a reluctant hero, of course, unsure of his destiny, as explained to him by the de facto leader of the rebellion, Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) after being awakened from his connection to the matrix. As Neo begins to take to the idea of a world enslaved, and learns the terrifying truths, he embraces the rebellion and even his role, though he has much to do to prepare for what lies ahead as anything goes if you knows what you’re doing in the open world of the matrix.
At one point, Morpheus takes Neo back into the matrix to help fully understand the implications of it all. The matrix is a fully-rendered computer created world where humans exist in a state of perceived reality and to be in it, one must be ‘plugged in’ via a complex device that attaches to the back of the head. Once inside, there are enemies within, agents of the matrix who patrol for infiltrators such as Morpheus and his team, looking to root them out and destroy their efforts to free minds.
As Morpheus explains this, he walks fluidly through a crush of people on a busy city street coming in the opposite direction while Neo, unaccustomed to the balance he has over what happens in this digitized domain, is jostled about like a pinball. What we don’t realize is how organic the mass of people are, all of them the same in dull colors and speed, moving directly at the two.
That is until she appears. From this dark mass, walking slowly, smiling alluringly, and wearing an incredibly sexy red evening dress, emerges a platinum blonde (Fiona Johnson) who shines bright in the sea of grays, a beacon for the eye that is impossible not to look at. And that’s the point. Neo, drawn immediately to her, is taken by her her stunning appearance but also her acknowledgement of him, a subtle glance and smile that has great invitation about it. And it’s here that we realize the reason why.
As Morpheus’s words fade, he asks Neo if he is listening or is he watching the girl? So distracting is this woman, Neo doesn’t even know what was being said, and for that, he faces the consequences as the girl is, once behind him, transformed into Agent Smith, a hunter program with a gun now pointed at his face. I won’t reveal what happens, but the take away is a lesson about staying focused, and one made well, even if all everyone remembers about it is the beautiful woman. And again, without a single word from her.
What’s really interesting, and testament to how carefully constructed and performed these small parts are, is how well remembered they are. While both films have gone on to different degrees of success and acceptance in the hearts and minds of movie fans, these two woman and their beautiful distractions have had lasting impact and helped to shape the movies they shared so little screen time in.