Action Stars Through the Ages

Action Stars Through the Ages

Picture of Vanessa Sully

Vanessa Sully

Guest Host / Matt’s Wife / Chris’ Sister-in-Law / Isabel’s Mom / Writer / Movie Lover

The 1980’s were a decade of excess, so it’s no wonder we demanded nothing less of our action stars. Before the need for backstory and motivation engrossed modern cinema, our heroes were simple creatures with one focus – to kick ass. What our jacked-up stars lacked in Oscar-worthy monologues and nuanced expressions, they more than made up for in biceps, abs and a black belt.

Photo by Alex Andrews from Pexels

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Sometimes, we were awarded with a quippy pun when the bad guy was defeated. Smacked with a phone book, Arnold might say, “You’ve been disconnected!” and we all know the Chuck Norris jokes. We ate it up. And It rarely occurred to us to question how ONE MAN could take on the entire KGB and come out with nary a scratch. “He’s a bad-ass!” was good enough.

In the 90’s and 2000’s, the bad-ass became more evolved. We learned our heroes could be human. Less muscles – more brains. A conscience. Families. Vulnerabilities.

Linda Hamilton’s Mama Bear-Sarah Connor was ultimately trying to protect her son… she just also happened to save the world AND be a bad-ass. Russell Crowe’s noble Maximus was avenging his slaughtered wife, son and the Marcus Aurelius….AND fought wars and battled tigers. And Christian Bale is unforgettable in Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” with one of the most epic origin stories to ever be put on film. We fancied ourselves action movie sophisticos and flocked to see films that were more than just plot. They were character-driven, rich in theme and directing style. These were new kinds of champions and again we ate it up.

Still though, maybe from nostalgia, we find ourselves drawn back again and again to the muscle-men of yore – those familiar titles. An hour and a half is well spent watching a SWAT team shoot out, Kung-Fu sound effects, knife fights and near misses. I mean, Die Hard is good every time. Predator is still ah-mazing.  And let’s be honest, sometimes we just want to see shit blow up.

Hollywood knows that. There’s been a resurgence of these types in movies in recent years. Liam Neeson has a special set of skills in TAKEN and we get to see them in all their glory. YES! Good guy-Keanu became John Wick in 2014 and I’ve never seen so much blood. YES!  And now we have Bob Odenkirk’s Nobody announcing in the trailer, “I’m gonna fuck you up!” Yes! Yes!

So, I suppose we can have our cake and eat it too. There’s a time and a place for depth. A time when I want to settle in and feel things.

But other days, I want to turn the volume up and watch an unbridled blood bath. I want to take that cake, stuff it with napalm, ride bareback on a chopper and yell “yippe-ki-ay” as we toss the cake bomb at Godzilla.

There may be something wrong with me.

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