Old blah blah. privileged male, blah blah. sexist blah blah blah

This is what I hear in my head now anytime I read or see reference to an article in which things are criticized for being what we love instead of being message driven bullshit. Here’s another article for you to digest and me to be condescending about.

We’re all pretty excited now that Harrison Ford has actually reappeared as Han Solo in the latest Star Wars trailer. But this is hardly the first time an old-guy action hero has gotten back in the saddle only to declare in one form or another that he’s “getting too old for this sh*t.” Harrison Ford himself has made an action-comeback several times already (Hollywood Homicide, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) and we all know that the Die Hard franchise has turned out to be even harder to kill than John McClane.

So, what’s the deal? Is there a bizarre cultural obsession with old guy comebacks?

I don’t know…could it be something as breathtakingly simple as people like the actors involved and in many cases, the characters being portrayed?  Nahhhh couldn’t be. That would be like…unprecedented! Or something like that. Also you act like they left the scene permanently or something. Did Harrison Ford or Bruce Willis get wheeled away in hearses while I wasn’t looking? If so it’s probably news to them as well as it is to me. 

Let’s start with Liam Neeson’s relatively new, grizzled tough guy persona. At some point in the last 20 years, Liam Neeson became a cold, hard badass. If you think about how we regarded Liam Neeson as an actor in the 1990s, this is a little weird. Around the time he was cast as Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace, Liam Neeson had a well-deserved reputation as a respected, classy actor. Someone who we thought was legit because he was in Schindler’s List and even recorded the audio book for The Polar Express (He doesn’t do the voice of the bell, sadly)—for every Krull and Darkman, he also appeared as the title roles in Ethan Frome and Michael Collins, not to mention his turn as the (non-singing) Jean Valjean in 1998’s Les Misérables.

What? because he’s been in acclaimed  award winning roles for historical films, kids films and [to my mind] artsy fartsy shit like Les Mierables…he’s not ALLOWED to be in films where he can just have FUN? He’s been PLAYING the bad ass off an on through a very long career.  Hell he played Gawain in Excalibur in 1980…or was it 81 I’ve lost track. A film which for some reason some people don’t like but that’s their perogative. I love it. So did playing that sword swinging character render any of his more serious non action roles invalid or vice versa? No. Not hardly  I don’t like everything he’s been in that’s action oriented or everything seriously oriented. Doesn’t mean I don’t respect his body of work. Okay I’ll grant you this one. I’m so sick of the Taken films? They should have stopped with the first, but that’s just my own humble opinion and I have no interest in his latest one. Put him in the RIGHT action role instead of repetitive ones like he’s been doing lately and I’m all over it..  It’s not like there’s not tons of books out there that couldn’t  be made into films he couldn’t do. Many of them action oriented and in various genres.  But if your attitude is that he’s not allowed to do films like that because you respect him as a serious actor…well to quote McClane “go fuck yourself hans”

Unlike Sean Connery or Arnold Schwarzenegger, Liam Neeson’s career didn’t really begin by playing a warrior or a badass assassin. Yet between the Taken films, A Walk Among the Tombstones, Run All Night, Liam Neeson on a Plane, Liam Neeson Versus the Wolves, etc., etc., this old-guy action hero shtick pretty much defines his career now. One could make the argument that he’s just sick of being broke and that these sorts of movies make more money than more respectable ones…but it’s still weird. Imagine it’s 20 years from now and Eddie Redmayne is doing movies where he catches guns in midair while growling clichéd one-liners. You’d be saying,“Wait. Isn’t that the guy who played Stephen Hawking?” Which is how we should all react to Neeson’s current career path. Isn’t that Oscar Schindler? Nope. It’s murder-death-explosion guy!

Already spoken to..he has played warriors or badasses all along in between “serious” roles. Now shhhhh…you’re starting to harsh my mellow dude.

And what of Harrison Ford? If we’re really being honest, as much as we love and respect him as an actor, he’s always been an action film hero at heart. Sure, there are those who will say “What about Witness? What about The Mosquito Coast?” but those roles are the exceptions in his career, not the rule. Playing the President of the United States in Air Force One was already an “old guy comeback” and that movie was made in 1997! So if we’re being really, really honest, the late 90s was when we wanted Han Solo back. 2015 isn’t too late, necessarily, his return just feels delayed. From the moment he first unleashed his arrogant grin in American Graffitti, he was destined to return over and over again: an older, grayer, still-lovable rogue coming back to charm us all over again, one last time.

Actually…no I wouldn’t have objected to Episodes 1-3 of Star Wars being made sooner. I am a fan of the movies after all. I never expected 7-9 to ever be made because there’d been so much done with the novels that really the best way to go about it would be to just keep making movies or tv series out of the novels. so much was fleshed out and so many new and beloved characters created in that time, in those books and the comics…it’s insane. Of course  the possibility of all that got tossed out the window when Lucas sold everything to Disney. Sigh…and then DISNEY decided none of that was canon; but that’s a rant for another day. Back to your article we go…,

But why does it work? Why do all these movies with Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson get greenlit and get made at all? A friend of mine insists that Neeson and other old guy action stars appeal to straight women as well as men. He seems like a safe, reliable guy because he’s a little older, a little wiser, but he’s also blowing things up—so, everybody wins? And of course, there’s the entrenched sexist bias underlying the entertainment industry itself: older male action stars have traditionally done well (in general), therefore studios think they always will. And this hasn’t been the case for very many female stars over the years; not only are there fewer action roles for women in Hollywood, but the chance of an older actress making a similar comeback is much, much rarer.

Or it could be they’re recognized solid performers who people have liked or loved for 30yrs and more. So they’re a guaranteed draw. Studios like a guaranteed draw…they’ve become risk averse I swear.   And because studios have no balls or backbone anymore..[sigh again separate rant..]
Sexist? Only to someone that’s been spoon fed group think and melding with the right think hive mind is all that matters thinks this way. Free thinking, rational people know better.  Basically it has waaay less to do with sexism and [again] the studios being risk averse.  But you go right ahead and keep dipping into that well of insipid stupidity…it’ll get you far in life with your circle jerking mutual maturbatory, mutual admiration society. At least til one of your friends throws you under the bus for one reason or another.

As for not a lot of kickass action roles for women?  Hmmm…lets see. Zoe and River from Firefly. Black Widow, avengers and  iron man.[yeah yeah I can hear it now..she was brought in for sex appeal. blah blah…and Gwynneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts wasn’t?  shut up.]  Storm and Rogue[to name two] from Xmen. Detective Sarah Pezinni Witch Blade. Max, Dark Angel[one of MY all time favorites]  Red Sonja in Red Sonja. Valeria, from Conan..yeah okay she dies but she’s still a bad ass warrior chick.  Starbuck in the rebooted BSG. Hell a couple of the women from rebooted BSG. Colonel Wilma Dearing..Buck Rogers.   There was a very short lived one season series about some of the women from the DC Universe involving Batgirl…forget what it’s called at the moment. Commander Susan Ivanova Babylon 5. Several of the female leads from Star Trek Deep Space 9. Hell since you bring it up below. The fast and the furious flicks. Letty. Bad ass chick.  Summer Glau as teh Terminator in the Sarah Connor chronicles.. Catwoman…old and new…bad ass chicks all. Lt Shane Vansen Space Above and Beyond. All this just to name a couple of my favorites. I could keep going but you won’t listen so *shrug* I’ll end the list there. Yes I know. Lots of television roles vs Big Screen. Who cares? you stated there weren’t a lot of action roles out there for women. You didn’t specify where.

As a sideways example: when The Rolling Stones recorded “Gimme Shelter,” Merry Clayton performed the backing vocals. In the subsequent tour, Merry Clayton appeared on stage with the Stones for this song, but when Stones were touring again in the late 1980s they actually replaced her with a younger singer: Lisa Fischer. The point is, it’s okay for Mick Jagger to look older, but it’s not okay for Merry Clayton. So perhaps it wasn’t much of a surprise to see that the first returning cast member to make an appearance in a Star Wars trailer wasn’t an older Princess Leia, but Han Solo (along with his wingman, Chewie).

As a sideways example that’s idiotic. It could be she didn’t wanna tour with them.  They were into the whole, drug and alcohol infused binging of sex and self destruction. She might not have wanted anything to do with that shit. Ever think of that boyo?  Probably not.  As far as the first star wars trailer the first regular old character to make an appearance in the trailer,  was actually R2-D2 you, you robophobic ass!  “Robophobic, Robophobic person sitting there! *points* attack, attack, villify and slander! Get him!”  See how intelligent that sounds?  Not very, huh?

Don’t get me wrong: pop culture (consumer and creators alike) currently has an obsession with cool, smart, often snarky older actresses of the “tough old bird” variety, as well. Maggie Smith was a popular actress in the 1950s and 60s, but these days has arguably become more famous for her awesome-old-lady roles in the Harry Potter movies and Downton Abbey. This is also true of Helen Mirren in the Red movies, and Dame Judi Dench, who has actually been in seven James Bond movies. That’s more than Timothy Dalton (two) Pierce Brosnan (four) and Daniel Craig (soon-to-be four). She’s also tied with Sean Connery, although she actually beats his record if you don’t count Never Say Never Again—which really, you shouldn’t. Judi Dench has even appeared in The Chronicles of Riddick alongside Vin Diesel, but in terms of public perception, she still hasn’t transformed into an “action star” the way Liam Neeson has. Part of this might have to do with the amount of stunts or gunplay the characters are directly involved in—and while there is an all-female Expendables-style movie called The Expendabelles in the works, it’s not likely to star a bunch of older laides. At the end of the day, we tend to see these established actresses’ forays into blockbusters and action films somewhat differently than we see those of their male counterparts.

Sigh because wow…low and behold Action movies were never their [thing. And RED was actually tongue in cheek fun poking at action movies and the actors involved all had a BALL poking fun at the genre, themselves all the while making a damn good pair of films!  Lets see..Maggie Smith aka Professor McGonagal? Nope no real action involved in THAT role.  Dame Judi Dench…nope she is just a peripheral player…no action in HER role really. Or in Riddick. she just happened to be characters in action movies.  Characters I LIKE mind you but not the main driving force behind the franchise.   Think about it…would you really ask Dame Denche to DO some of the shit that Bond does? or Riddick does? No…because she IS Dame Judi Dench…so yeah asking an old broad to do some of this physical shit, is a WHOLE different kettle of fish from asking a young guy in the prime to do this shit. Next.

Speaking of which, there’s no greater proof of society’s obsession with old guy action star comebacks than The Expendables series. How have there been three of these movies? I mean, fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice…well, you get the idea. Unlike Last Action Hero or another Die Hard movie, or even the presence of “Old Spock” in the new Star Trek movies, the Expendables movies aren’t remotely nuanced or clever in terms of what they’re up to. This is an old-guy action-star orgy that unapologetically throws all of these dudes in our faces almost at random, context be damned. You could argue that structurally, there’s not a big difference between a musical supergroup like The Traveling Wilburys and The Expendables…except that The Traveling Wilburys actually had some good songs and a sense of humor.

How have their been 3 of these films? Wow…you really are dense. Because they’re popular and MAKE MONEY.  Also because we love the characters and the people playing them.  It’s a nostalgia thing.  It’s again…a tongue in cheek thing making fun of themselves really.   And just because your sense of humor isn’t the same as mine or someone elses isn’t my problem. The fact it’s blinding you to reality isn’t even my problem…although your smug attitude about it annoys the ever loving hell out of me.

Honestly, no one I know has actually seen more than one of The Expendables movies, while almost everyone I know has seen Furious 7—an action movie that also relies on its ensamble cast. Are stars like Vin Diesel and The Rock destined to become the next generation of aging action stars in 15 years or so? Or maybe over the course of the next decade we’ll see Vin Diesel doing more “serious” films and actually winning that Oscar he thinks he’s earned. In the meantime the old guy comeback cycle will no doubt continue even if it is getting, well, old.

Ah then you either don’t know many people, or you’re spending too much time with people like yourself with your noses so far up in the air…and up each others anal glands…that you not only can’t see the forest for the trees, you also won’t see the cliff when you step off it.  I own all 3 Expendables. Ensemble casts in all 3 of them. Durr. Seen all 7 Furious movies and own all but the last and that’s only because it’s not on DVD/Bluray yet. Also great ensemble cast.  And to answer your question..Maybe yes, maybe no. Both Rock and Diesel CAN do comedy. And do it well.   And the old guy comeback cycle is only old…if you’re an ageist.  “Ageist over here! Ageist over here! *points* villify, denounce, attack attack!” 

Go away dude…you bore me.

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2015/04/the-old-guy-action-comeback?utm_source=exacttarget&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_term=tordotcom&utm_content=na_readblog_BlogPost&utm_campaign=StarWars

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