It may come as a surprise to some, but the eighties are over.
A classic action blockbuster is now a dwindling flame among the uproar of the superhero tide. That’s not to say the genre is dead. There will always be a market for the action hero…but it’s a young man’s game if to be taken seriously. And if it is not to be taken seriously, the film must take the right approach to get the best out of it’s talent.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone recently got back on the big screen in the Escape Plan. This movie reaffirmed my concerns that it is time the legendary action heroes took a step back. Over the past year or so we have seen some damaging movies to our heroes reputations. The Last Stand. The Escape Plan. Bullet to the Head. Would you not rather treasure the glory days, that consistently damage them with un-evolved performances which cling to the majesty of the action hero these guys once were?
I can see you are going to need some explanation, so bare with me here.
Arnold Schwarzenegger kind of gets it. His character has evolved somewhat. He now attempts more humor, and when he does – it IS funny! What is funnier than seeing Arnie create a crudely drawn map to his ass in The Escape Plan? Stallone however, is clueless, I’m afraid to say. his acting talent has never been a solid attribute to his career, but his reputation and his frame have kept him at the top. But the longer he refuses to lay down his one-trick performance, the more damage he will do to his status as one of the greatest living action heroes.
My point is, these character must evolve. Like Robert De Niro. Clint Eastwood. These action stars evolved with their age and continue to be successful. And if Arnie and Sly want to stay in the action game, which I hope for everybody’s sake Sly in particular does, they must also adapt.
Look at Dolph Lungren. He is of the same breed as Arnie and Sly, get he has rolled with the punches, creating straight to DVD hits alongside the likes of JCVD. Universal Soldier Regeneration (2009) was meant to be a straight to DVD piece of gutter trash, but look how it ended up?! It delivers some of the best action of the stars careers using all practical effects.
This is down to the stars evolving as well as wonderful direction from John Hyams, who Arnie and Slu should definitely look to work with. Making brilliant stories for next to no money is Hyams specialty, and when the pair will have blown millions on The Escape Plan, The Last Stand and Bullet to the Head, this is what they need.
Arnie fans are reporting The escape Plan made 50% of its gross back, which is incredibly naive as the marketing costs alone will have been sky high. The movie will be a flop. And the only way to get out of this rut is for our action heroes to take a look at their life careers and maintain some dignity. The 80′s are over and these guys need to realize it and reinvent themselves like the generation of actors around them did.
Roles like Anthony Hopkins plays as Odin in Thor. Be the tough guy, the mentor, the bad-ass god-father for all we care, who plays a back line role and maintains a aura of ambiguity. of what HAS BEEN. We have seen you barrel roll over a movie car. We have seen you shoot down forests and karate chop people in the neck. And it was great while it lasted! And we will continue to worship those movies. But these crappy flopping movies are damaging their careers and reputations among fans more than they are seeing.
There will always be the hardcore fans that blindly watch and praise any movie Arnie and Sly touch because they too can not let go. You are enablers my friends.
Our heroes are holding back the next stage in their career by continually trying to recreate the past. It can’t be done. However, we can not talk about all of this and not mention the Expendables.
Expendables 1 was a piece of crap. Everyone with a brain knows it. The music, the script, the plot was just all terribly put together and manufactured. Expendables 2 was significantly better. And you know why? Because they let Jason Statham do the physical action hero stuff and the older characters become a novelty, a conscious joke, an evolving breed of action hero.
Arnie pulling off the car door. Sly and Chuck Norris exchanging verbal blows. This is what works. These guys must be conscious of their condition. By all means, keep those upper bodies tuned like a racing car engine, but allow your performance to change. Become conscious of the fact you are ‘past it’ and you will be rewarded with a whole new level of movie character and performance.
Arnie’s charisma still shines through, but it needs to be focused properly. Direct it into those funny lines, where he could beat the crap out of a guy or shoot his spine through his stomach, but instead he thinks “I’m too old for this.” and delivers a funny punchline. The guy thinks he can take down the old man. Attacks Arnie. And Arnie can slam him down. There, I’ve just written a future scene…kind of.
Sly looks so awkward constantly tensed up, desperately clinging to the old glory days. His tensed biceps may as well be screaming “Do you remember?! Do you remember when I crushed a guy with these?” Yes we do, Sly! But it’s time to move on. It’s like a band aid, bro. Just rip it off. Sly was awful in The Escape Plan. His dialogue required subtitles, probably because he was concentrating more on his chest looking appropriate to his masculine needs.
Our heroes would make ideal smaller role villains in bigger films. Think Arnie in Avatar 2. He should play some sort of human enforcer for a bigger boss. He’d nail that and fans would love to see it. Small doses of the past can work…but 90 minutes of them chasing after the glory days is just damaging to their legacy. Nobody is paying money to see the same old movie that our heroes are regurgitating one after another.
To conclude, this all sounds incredibly negative. I promise, it is anything but. This is a fan hoping for the best for the last breed of true action hero. I want to see their careers continue. I want to see them in movies. But they must evolve. Cultural references to the past. Not physical performance which tries to emulate it. This should be our heroes future.
The action heroes we grew up with are not dead. But they are in serious danger of damaging the legacy they will leave behind in the movie industry forever. I don’t want that to happen.
Time to evolve into a mighty Charizard, guys.
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