Sunday, October 30, 2005

Where Are All the Action Stars?

I went to Stay last week, which had some interesting editing and camera work attached to a problematic, but not so bad, story. It did pretty poorly box office wise so I'm always curious about why.

Personally, I like Ewan MacGregor -- I think he could be this generation's Harrison Ford. But for some reason that isn't panning out (or not yet at least -- perhaps in a few years) -- even when attached to spectacles like The Island.

The problem might be that we don't know who we're going to see when we go see a Ewan MacGregor film. When we go see a Tom Cruise film we know we'll see the cocky hotshot. Bruce Willis is the tough smartass. Arnold -- the muscular but slightly self-effacing guy. Clint the pure hardass.

And with Tom Cruise apparently in self-destruct mode while most of the others age out of the genre I'm worried that we're running into a low action star market. What's worse -- many of our best candidates are worryingly serious actors --

Will Smith -- great in light action but stop defecting to romantic comedies and the odd serious film...
Colin Farrell -- does brooding badass well, but what's with all the dramatic period pieces??
Matt Damon -- honestly, you can't be an action star if you got a screenwriting Oscar.
Ewan McGregor -- what's with this whole range thing? Action stars perform in one kind of movie, then break up their string of action films by playing against type in a comedy every now and then --

Vin Diesel -- here's the ticket, but we need more than one of these guys.

Jason Statham -- could be one, but still no break out into the "we make movies around you" stage of things. I think he needs a big role that will be quintessentially him, but not The Transporter, something more like one of the roles in Snatch or Lock, Stock...


Dotan said...

Well, you've also got The Rock, who is more muscular yet somehow softer than Diesel...
I blame Nicholas Cage for this frivolous attitiude to being an Action Star as something you can dip into for a quick buck, then swing back out. We need more people with 2-3 expressions who consider Action Star a vocation...

Grubber said...

I reckon after his performence as Wolverine, Hugh Jackman could do it if given the chance. Mind you, he would have to make everyone forget he is very good playing Peter Allen. ;-)

Steve Peterson said...

The Rock has the right look for a Conan -- but then they go and make him all stealthy in Scorpion King. A guy that big shouldn't be stealthy -- he should just tear through bad guys with a large axe. Anyway, I think he needs to work on his mean look.

Hugh Jackman is a good possibility -- just needs to shower and shave less often.

Pro-crastinator said...

"The problem might be that we don't know who we're going to see when we go see a Ewan MacGregor film."

That's exactly the way he wants it. Ewan unlike his contemporaries on both sides of the pond, does not want to be type-cast or conform to even his fan's expectations. He will always be able to say that he did it his way and that he was never bored.

I was going to nominate Keanu because he can at least pull off some of the physicality required of an action star, but he is as passive as the others that you've mentioned in his action roles.

Maybe the problem is the way the roles are written. It seems like villains in the last decade take on all the active roles and dictate everything where as the modern action hero merely reacts to whatever circumstances fate and the villain creates.

What I've always appreciated about Clint Eastwood is that his characters did what they thought was for the best, for better or for worse.

Steve Peterson said...

I forgot Keanu -- he is an interesting case since he doesn't seem particularly suited to being an action star other than the fact he's been in a couple of classic action films.

In a related note, there was this interesting article on the benefits of being typcast -- I've lost track of the place I first heard about it but here's a link to what was probably the original research: