We have a new Rambo movie, 37 years after the original, because apparently that’s something Sylvester Stallone thought the world needed. It seems to be a common trend these days to see old action stars struggling to remain relevant to their audiences. Sometimes it works, but other times…
This could probably double as a hype check for Terminator: Dark Fate, but I think it’s long past time for Arnold Schwarzenegger to hang up his action star title. Back in 2015, he was in two movies I saw. The first, Terminator: Genisys, was a mess that I doubt I will ever rewatch. The second (in order of me watching it), Maggie, was a nice surprise that I do look forward to revisiting at some point.
Maggie did not put Arnold in an action role or even in a callback type roll, and yet the part fit well. It’s unfortunate that so many Schwarzenegger movies in the late ’90s were uninspired. If anything, the last decade has shown that not enough effort has been put into having Arnold play more mature roles. Sean Connery, for example, eventually found a niche as an older mentor type character. Maybe that’s something that will happen a little in Dark Fate, but outside of Linda Hamilton, the film looks like another blot on Arnold’s IMDb page (as well as for the Terminator franchise). There’s a Conan project in the works as well, but it feels to be several decades too late.
M. Enois Duarte
If not for the fact that Liam Neeson is starring in two upcoming action films in the next couple of years, I would have thought the Irish actor had finally retired from appearing in genre flicks where his age should realistically limit certain physical requirements demanded of an action star.
To be honest, I rather enjoy Neeson’s signature gruff and surly lone-wolf role. Although the movies may range from decently entertaining to downright silly and dumb, there’s something charming about his performances that makes me forget I’m sitting through garbage. In fact, Neeson’s over-the-hill action roles have become an archetype that’s easily parodied and imitated. From the looks of it, Stallone’s latest Rambo adventure borrows some resemblance to Neeson’s model.
I’ll pick Clint Eastwood. Look, he’s a bit loopy, but the fact that he’s still doing it as he approaches 90 should cut his lunatic politics and get-off-my-lawn shtick some slack. It’s clear he’s having fun, wants to entertain, and still finds time to kick some butt on screen.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
I haven’t suffered through a new Steven Seagal movie in a full decade, so I can’t begin to imagine what his more recent direct-to-video opuses are like now that he’s pushing 70. I can, however, tell you about 2009’s Driven to Kill, by which point Seagal was at least a decade and a half past his prime.
But in the words of the Bard, age ain’t nothin’ but a number. Ruslan Drachev is hip, he’s cool, and he’s 57. And in case you fail to fully acknowledge Seagal’s still-smoldering sexuality, the movie opens with this former Russian mob enforcer being propositioned for a threeway by scream queen Crystal Lowe. Coincidentally, the actresses playing Drachev’s ex-wife and daughter are almost the exact same age as Lowe, each right at thirty years younger than Seagal himself. (Laura Mennell, who plays daughter Lanie, is actually a year older than her on-screen mom.)
Don’t get too attached to any of these ladies. Lowe quickly vanishes, the former Mrs. Drachev is gunned down, and Lanie is left for dead. Of course his family has to be murdered (or something close enough to it) by the Russian mob. How else could Ruslan be – pause for dramatic effect – driven to kill?
With basically anyone else in the lead, Driven to Kill would’ve been just another paint-by-numbers DTV action flick. Seagal ensures that it’s at least vaguely memorable. He mumbles with a, how you say, Russian Guyovich accent that’s borderline-unintelligible, at least when he remembers to do it. To Seagal’s credit, he appears to be fielding much of the stuntwork himself, but he’s not exactly in peak physical condition. Ruslan waddles when he’s supposed to be running. Most of the fight sequences are framed unusually tightly, presumably because it looked too slow or sloppy when the camera’s further away.
Driven to Kill is a long way from the Golden Age of Seagalese Cinema, but it treats us to a bloated action hero old enough to get the discounted coffee at McDonald’s slicing up a dude’s face with a knife, and the high-octane climax is set to accordion and an Oktoberfest oompah beat. There’s something to be said for that. More than 350 words of something, judging by this response.
I ranted about the awfulness about the last Die Hard sequel just a few months ago. Sadly, that movie is emblematic of Bruce Willis’ entire career at this point. Although the actor, even at 64-years-old, is still virile enough that he could make a decent action movie if he wanted to, in recent years he’s been content to coast on his reputation, collecting easy paychecks for the bare minimum amount of work he can get away with. Many of these are direct-to-video flicks where he’s not even the lead, despite receiving top billing, and just pops in for a quick cameo in a project actually headlined by C-Listers like Kellan Lutz or Mark-Paul Gosselaar.
Even when he appears in a higher-profile theatrical release, like G.I. Joe: Retaliation or RED 2, his disinterest toward everything going on around him is palpable. Willis clearly just does not give a shit about these kinds of movies anymore. It’s a depressing turn for an actor who was formerly one of our great action stars.
Which aging action stars do you think really ought to call it a day?