The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's Lisbeth Salander comes in a short line of fearless female characters.
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2 May 2013 - 12:24 PM  UPDATED 2 May 2013 - 4:33 PM

Seeing Noomi Rapace again as Lisbeth Salander in the original version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – it's on SBS ONE this Saturday at 9.30pm – made me ponder who I'd name, before this Scandinavian scorcher came along, as my top three gutsy female lead characters.

I'm talking here about women who show no or next-to-no fear; who dominate the screen; whose actions are pure inspiration. Not all that many quickly came to mind.

Uma Thurman did, as The Bride driven by vengeance in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill films, but, frankly, I was more enamoured with that director's Death Proof heroines and good on him for creating so many.

Anne Parillaud as Nikita in Luc Besson's Le Femme Nikita was considered, as were Geena Davis as Samantha Caine in Renny Harlin's The Long Kiss Goodnight and Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in James Cameron's The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Perhaps it goes against Hamilton that she hasn't stayed in the public eye.

Or there's Angelina Jolie, and take your pick whether to nominate her for the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider films, Evelyn Salt in Salt or for Jane Smith in Mr & Mrs Smith.

In my view, though, no-one stands up to Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley standing up to the extra-terrestrial onslaught in Ridley's Scott's science-fiction horror film Alien, and in the subsequent three sequels directed by Cameron, David Fincher and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Quite simply she gave each performance everything she had – and that was a lot.

And, in my book, Jodie Foster comes a close second as the trainee FBI agent Clarice Starling, who is looking for a man that's killing and skinning women in The Silence of the Lambs. What makes her so impressive is that she knows the only way she's going to find him is to go head to head with the probing and provocative psychopath and one-time psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter – and she does.

And then, third on the list is Deborra Lee-Furness as Asta Cadell in the home-grown Shame, fighting for all the women in the outback town she becomes stranded in after her motorbike breaks down. It is easier to imagine being in the shoes of this character than the other two, which adds to the impact.

Shame is an oldie – it was released about 25 years ago – but a goodie. The Silence of the Lambs came out more than 20 years ago and the first Alien nearly 34 years ago. Even the second Kill Bill is coming up to 10 years of age. Is my radar not picking up more contemporary titles or are there none that deserve to be named?