What’s Behind Hollywood’s Obsession With Old Man Action Heroes?

Okay old timers – time to get back in the saddle.  Alexander Huls discusses the current crop of Old Man Action Heroes.

We’re in the midst of a full-on re-emergence of the Old Demi-Gods of Action from direct-to-DVD obscurity, failed career comebacks, and politics. The hard-bodied troops of ’80s action cinema are returning to the genre they helped perfect via The Expendables series, Schwarzenegger’sThe Last Stand, Stallone’s Bullet to the Head, and the trotting out of Bruce Willis’ John McClane for yet another Die Hard. It’s a kind of new (old) wave, but it isn’t one isolated to reappointing former glory to older-aged action stars. It’s equally indoctrinating new ones through movies like Redand anything that gives Liam Neeson a gun. These days it seems action films aren’t just a young man’s game anymore – they’re becoming a game for finely aged actors. We’ve had actors dolling out justice well into their middle-years before (see: John Wayne, Charles Bronson, Clint Eastwood, the cast of The Wild Bunch ), but it’s never been this pervasive as a trend. Which begs the question: why now?

One reason is the current state of the action genre. As Adam Sternbergh noted in his heartfelt eulogy for the bygone days of Commandos and Rambos – “America forgot how to make action movies.” Where once we had a healthy action genre, now we just have action movies – most of which are superhero flicks or CGI sinkholes. There’s no more good old-fashioned bare-chested, bare-knuckled grit. Not that there’s anyone to get bare-chested or knuckled. Aside from Jason Statham and false-starters Vin Diesel and The Rock, no new young action stars have come along to replace the old, and the existing ones have faded (Tom Cruise, Will Smith). Now we just get regular actors like Matt Damon and Daniel Craig taking on action movies.

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