Salma Hayek's Hard-Hitting Action Career
6/10/2021 • 3 min read
Salma Hayek can play pretty much every role she approaches, and she can do quite a few things few others can. For instance, she's a fantastic and often underrated action player. We’ve been watching Salma Hayek deal damage on-screen since 1994’s DESPERADO. She’s played in movies of pretty much every genre since then, but it’s always nice to see her return to the sort of movies that made her famous.
In THE HITMAN'S WIFE'S BODYGUARD, Hayek returns to expand a role originated in the first HITMAN'S BODYGUARD movie and show us what a real action heroine looks like. (She'll also reunite with her DESPERADO co-star, Antonio Banderas, bringing things full circle.) But before we get there, let’s take a look at Hayek’s other action entries to remember why it’s so fun watching her run around firing automatic weapons.
Plenty of action stars have casually walked away from an explosion. But to this day, no one has casually walked away from an explosion as well as Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek do in DESPERADO. There are plenty of other reasons to love this film, which introduced Hayek to a wide audience when it came out in 1995, but that amazing explosion walk might be number one. Hayek also got to show off her action chops in the sequel, ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO, but with much less screen time. If you want to see where the Salma Hayek craze began for quite a few viewers, this is ground zero.
Wild Wild West
And speaking of Westerns, one cannot overlook the much-hyped Will Smith ‘90s vehicle WILD WILD WEST. While the film functioned as a fun two-hander between Will Smith and Kevin Kline (with the two of them going up against Kenneth Branagh’s mustache-twirling villain), it was really Hayek who stole the show as the surprisingly powerful Rita Escobar.
A period piece set in early 1900s Mexico, BANDITAS stars Salma Hayek and Penélope Cruz as a couple of ladies who turn to bank robbery to help feed a community of farmers displaced by a ruthless corporation’s new railroad. So they are thieves, but in a good way. Nevertheless, banks do not like being robbed, and the two leads have to do a lot of Western-style fighting to win the day.
One fierce and determined lady. One small high-rise apartment. About two hundred armed villains. That’s essentially the premise of Joe Lynch’s 2014 thriller, EVERLY. There isn’t a huge amount of story here. It’s just Salma Hayek taking out wave after wave of bad guys who mean to kill her character. It should surprise no one that it ends up being an even match. More action movies should be like this!
The Hitman’s Bodyguard
The first HITMAN’S BODYGUARD film excelled at two things: action and comedy. While the leads Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson did a lot of the work, but Hayek more than held her own as well. It’s no wonder she earned such an expanded role in the sequel, which is even named after her character! (Okay, it’s still named after the bodyguard, but now he’s her bodyguard.)
Whoops, this movie’s not even out yet! But as a major new entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you can be sure it’s going to be full of great comic book action. And given that Hayek plays Ajak, leader of the Eternals (who, in the comics, was originally a male warrior), it’s a certainty she’ll be given at least one great action setpiece.
THE HITMAN'S WIFE'S BODYGUARD opens on June 16!
All images courtesy of 20th Century Studios, Dimension, Lionsgate, Marvel Studios, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures.