I saw Inferno last night, the latest Dan Brown save-the-world thriller with a side of art theory. It’s fine if you like that sort of thing, and Tom Hanks is as charismatic as ever as Robert Langdon, and Felicity Jones’ character Sienna Brookes, an enigmatic ER doctor who gets dragged into Langdon’s wild scheme, has a very nice flat in downtown Florence.
But she also spends half the movie running away from evil private security contractors and World Health Organisation agents in a pair of heels.
Granted, they’re very nice heels (Salvatore Ferragamo navy blue wedges). And they look great with her silk shirt, cropped trousers and trench. But we really need to dispense with this trend of forcing our heroines in action movies to hobble alongside their male counterparts in heels.
In Inferno, Jones has to race through the cobblestone backstreets of Florence and Venice, scale the wall at the Boboli Gardens, teeter precariously across an ancient wooden beam at the Palazzo Vecchio (which she promptly falls off) and clamber up the walls of the basement catacomb at St Mark’s cathedral. All. In. Heels.
Needless to say, Tom Hanks get to wear nice, sensible lace-up desert shoes.
Just to reiterate: Jones’ character Sienna Brookes is an ER doctor. When she saves Langdon’s life and they repair to her flat to prepare for a thrilling chase through Florence searching for a viral pathogen that could trigger a global plague – the less said about that the better – she changes out of her scrubs and into the wedges, knowing full well she’s about to run for her life. Sensible, no?
How does this keep happening? Last year we watched with increasing displeasure and annoyance as Bryce Dallas Howard (in Jurassic World) raced through the Costa Rican jungle while a genetically engineered carnivorous dinosaur chased her… in a pair of nude pumps nicked from Kate Middleton’s closet. The shoes were fine when she was doing her job as marketing director for a fancy theme park, but they stopped serving their purpose once she was forced to run for her life through the jungle. As several commenters pointed out: she should have taken the damn shoes off and ran barefoot.
Before that, we’ve seen Anne Hathaway’s catwoman ride a motorcycle in stilettos, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow in combat boots with a towering wedge, and let’s not even get started on the girls in Michael Bay’s Transformers series, all of whom have been documented meticulously on the hilarious blog Action Heroines In Wildly Inappropriate Shoes.
It wasn’t always thus. Angelina Jolie, one of the archetypal female action stars led the way in Tomb Raider: kicking ass, saving the world and restoring priceless artifacts to their rightful owners while clad in sensible, super cool combat boots.
Hollywood seems to have received the message loud and clear. When Jurassic World returns to screens next year, it will do so without the high heels. “The way that Colin [Trevorrow, the director] told me that the sequel was happening, when it got greenlit, and that I was going to be in it, he texted me #NoHeels2018. And I was like, ‘Yeah boy!’” Dallas Howard has said.
And in December Felicity Jones will return to screen as the latest heroine headlining the Star Wars franchise in Rogue One. Her character, Jyn Erso, is a smart, fiery rebel fighter leading a ragtag group attempting to steal the plans for Darth Vader’s Death Star.
She’ll be running, jumping, leading, piloting, fighting, firing jet blasters, maybe even wielding a lightsaber. Anything is possible in the world of Star Wars.
And what will she be wearing? Combat fatigues and sturdy brown boots. Clothes to save a galaxy far, far away in.