Action Heroes are Enjoying their Twilight Years Saving the World
One of the newer trends out of Hollywood has been the rise of the aging action heroes returning to the big screen in an effort to prove that age is just a number. More and more we see our heroes rushing off to save their loved ones after enjoying the early bird special at Denny’s. One has to wonder though, why? Sure John Wayne managed to do the tough guy schtick well into his sixties, but back in the 80’s and 90’s there weren’t too many action movies where the hero would win the girl, wink at the camera, and pop a little blue pill before the music swelled and the screen faded to black. Personally, I blame the baby boomers. Those jerks who always seem to have the “nicest” things to say about my generation and millennials in general.
This whole “old man” action heroes motif most notably started about ten years ago when Liam Neeson decided to show us his particular set of skills in Taken. What would have been a pleasant departure from the likes of Channing Tatum and the “Chrises” (Hemsworth, Evans, Pratt, etc) showing off their abs to save the world, soon turned into a trend with Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables. After that, all the action heroes of yesteryear decided to come out of retirement. Denzel Washington took up arms in The Equalizer. Arnold Schwarzenegger saved the day in The Last Stand and Sabotage (and he has Conan and Terminator movies in the works). Even Jackie Chan gave it a go in the recent The Foreigner. I would mention that Keanu Reeves is getting up there too, but let’s face it he’s immortal so he doesn’t really count. Still, why are all these old men starring as hard-punching action heroes when they really should be wearing life alerts around their necks whenever they step into the shower?
Honestly, I think it’s because they reflect those with power. Let’s face it, baby boomers have not been overly kind to millennials and now that they’re getting into their twilight years, they’re still refusing to relinquish their power. The rich and powerful just don’t want to retire, and so Hollywood is showing them that they’re still just as tough and relevant as ever (probably because many of the studio heads are in the same boat). That’s why this year we have Liam Neeson fighting terrorists on a train in The Commuter and Bruce Willis becoming a vigilante in the Death Wish remake. Sure, these are well-respected actors with impressive filmographies but at some point, it starts to get a bit embarrassing. Hey, I’m not ageist or anything like that, but even within the ridiculous world of action heroes doing impossible things, it’s hard to believe that retirees are able to stand their ground against men in the prime of their lives, no matter what RED wanted us to believe.
That isn’t to say that there isn’t room for aging action heroes in Hollywood. Robert Downey Jr. is getting up there, but as Iron Man, he comes across as a very believable hero. That’s because he uses his brains and where his brawn might be lacking, well, he built a robot-suit to even the odds. Despite this though, old (and mostly white) men still insist that they’re the big dogs and Hollywood is catering to them. Of course, there is evidence that the overseas box office has a thing for heroes of the immediate past, but let’s not give them another American stereotype to snicker at.
Let’s face it though, it doesn’t look like this trend is showing any signs of stopping. Old action heroes might just be here to stay… Well, relatively speaking. Still, this is just another prime example of Hollywood’s bandwagon mentality. These days their motto seems to be “if it worked once, let’s beat it to death with a stick and then keep hitting it.” Geri-action is just the latest way the entertainment industry is taking a unique and interesting idea, and stripping it down to mass produce it for profit. There is a creative vacuum in the industry and it’s worrisome how advertent to risks studios seem to be these days. Then again, I’m guilty of supporting this through my love of superhero movies. Still, at some point, Hollywood needs to embrace that fortune favors the bold and without risk, there can be no reward. Let’s just hope it’s sooner rather than later.
But that’s just my take on it. How do you feel about old action heroes returning to the silver screen? Are you a fan of the Taken movies and all the geri-action franchises out there? Do you think it’s a bit embarrassing? Make sure to leave your comments below!