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Saturday, August 23, 2014

It's Time to Take Back the Action Genre

Am I the only one tired of the "back for one last job" premise in action movies? You know, when the protagonist--usually of the male variety--is basking in retirement glow when he is called back for one last mission that he can't refuse? (See The November Man, Red, and The Equalizer for examples). As a longtime fan of the action genre, I can honestly admit that this trope is beyond tired at this point. And I think it has just as much to do with Hollywood's so-called creative bankruptcy as it does with the fact that our biggest action heroes are in fact of early retirement age. Even the films mentioned above star actors between the ages of 59-77.

Obviously, age is just a number (especially in Hollywood, and if you're a man) and an actor could still be kicking ass and taking names as long as they can draw an audience. Liam Neeson has certainly proven that time and time again as a baby booming action hero, and continues that streak in A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES. The film, in theaters September 19, stars the actor as--you guessed it--a former cop who gets pulled back into the field for a case too juicy for him to turn away from. *Insert yawn here*

I love Liam Neeson--God knows I do--but I really need him to sometimes make another type of film just to remind the young'uns that he can in fact deliver a performance that is not phoned in. Because this half stepping he's been doing lately is just not the way to the Promised Land.

Likewise, Keanu Reeves, 49, who has for nearly the last decade made a career out of starring in two-bit films, is also playing a man busting out of retirement to annihilate one more bad guy in the revenge action thriller, JOHN WICK (in theaters October 24). Honestly, as soon as I read this premise I immediately said to myself, Et Tu, Keanu? Another one bites the dust.

I just hope that these two films do one of two things: a) provide fresh takes on a drained trope, or b) do so poorly that Hollywood is forced to re-attack the genre from a new angle. Audiences need to be reminded that comic book adaptations aren't the only action films that can be exciting, smart, and nuanced. It's time to take back this genre.


Marvin said...

I'm glad to hear someone else feels this way. The action movie genre has been pretty flat for a while now, minus those cape and cowl types. It's wide open for someone to come in and make a huge splash. I look at something like 'Pacific Rim,' which is ALL action, and ask myself what's missing. My knee-jerk answer is personality, but that's another comment for another post.

I will say that I loved Liam Neeson in 'The Grey,' that movie was fantastic. I wish he'd do more of that, and never even entertain a conversation about a 'Taken' sequel...EVER.

Really good post.

Dell said...

Nice write up. There is one other reason these type of movies keep getting made: the lack of bankable stars who aren't qualified for AARP. Who's the youngest action star? Jason Statham? Matt Damon? Neither is exactly a spring chicken. The 20 and 30 something actors out there aren't what I would call action hero types.

Brittani Burnham said...

I'm tired of this trope as well, and I really want Liam Neeson in particular to do something else for a change. I'm afraid people will forget that he's actually a very capable dramatic actor.

Daniel said...

I'm like you, I love Liam Neeson but he's been in spin cycle for the last few years. Worst thing that happened to him was the success of Taken....

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