Is the Action Film Back?

News about Fast and Furious‘ box office take is about 48 hours old now, which is damn near 2.3 decades in Internet age. So, of course, I am just now getting to drop my two cents on this pre-summer blockbuster. Let me get this straight. A flick all about fast cars going fast and exploding every 12.53 minutes and also happens to star Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriquez (whom I have a slight crush on, and will now receive merciless taunting from all my friends) and “that other chick” took in 71 million dollars last weekend. I know you are all expecting me to rant and rave about the end of quality in Hollywood or faith in the American film going public. I could that about Fast and Furious. But, here is the problem. I don’t really care. In fact, I find myself glad the film did that well over the weekend. Hell, part of me wants to go out and give money to the theater system and watch this flick again. (Only in a matinée, I haven’t lost all my so-called “Geek Cred”). Now, before you all start to cry foul and demand I get on that pinball machine along with Harrison Ford, let me explain.

I miss the big ass action movie. Truly and deeply…

I’m not talking about action classics like The Wild Bunch, Die Hard, Predator, or The Seven Samurai. No, those are classics unto themselves and are in a whole other world. See, I’m talking about the trashy, yet wholly wonderful action film. The action movie that doesn’t give a crap what critics say and would never, ever cover up a well-timed “Yippee-kai-yay Mutha’ Fucka’” with a gunshot. (Or so I’ve been told, as if someone would be dumb enough to shoot a PG-13 Die-Hard, that’d be like giving an Alien a fat belly and sad panda eyes). Anyway, I mean great action cheese. Flicks like Commando, Coffy, Above the Law, and The Last Boyscout. In the same way a good slasher movie has you hollering for the next great kill, so too should an over the top action movies have you screaming over an epic shoot-out. Shoot-outs where the hero never runs out of bullets and the bad guys shoot worse than a Cobra Trooper hopped up on Crunch Berries. Sure, every once in a while we get a John Rambo, Shout ’em Up, or In Bruges, but those kinda of action film are few and far between. I remember a time when a group of friends could hit the video store and with a forged parental signature (sorry mom), rent so many copies of Death This or Kill That, we’d wear out the heads on our pop-top VCR.

Maybe we’re seeing that era come back with Fast and Furious.

I hope so, but deep down, I doubt it. See, to have a strong and over the top action flick, you need some kind of bad guy. Drug dealers are always a good standard, but to really go for broke you need an evil empire. Soviet style. While the “real world” might be better off without a USSR, the cinema realm is boring as hell. Sure, there are still dangers out there. Dangers that, on paper, make great action movie villains, but when actually put on the screen they don’t work. Terrorists are easy to hate when you watch the news, but they don’t transition well to an action film. Not when we see the effects of terrorism on a nightly basis. Hard to take enjoyment when you know the real thing is blowing people up all over the world. In the interests in fairness, I willing to bet things the old USSR (or any other toppled “evil empire”) did horrible things… They just didn’t send out videos to every news outlet. Then there is the belief that we have moved beyond such childish forms of entertainment. Uh huh, sure we have, because the intellectual elite flocked to Paul Blartt – Mall Cop.

Then again, maybe the action movie just evolved.

The reason this article took so long to come to life? Friggen Left 4 Dead. The blockbuster first person shooter. Is that why we don’t get “brainless” action films anymore? Perhaps the FPS is the natural evolution of the action film. Whenever we watched Arnold, Sly, or Steven plug a bad guy, part of us envisioned ourselves in that role. We were saving the day/country/girl. A FPS is that feeling distilled to perfection. We don’t have to imagine anymore. Game companies have provided us with all our violent desires with a plethora of genres. War, crime, and even the glorious Zombie Apocalypse assault our senses with a frame rate Hollywood could only dream. Are we really the character in the game? Hell no, but at least now we can actually use a chain gun on a Nazi, instead of just wondering what would happen is said Nazi ran into ‘ol painless!

Then there is the lack of action stars.

Poor Jason Statham. That dude has that certain cool factor all action movie stars require. Alas, like Marv in Sin City, Jason was born in the wrong era. Just 10 – 15 years earlier and we could all be attending a midnight screening of Jason Satatham’s Stone Cold! Come on, you know that would have rocked, friggen “Boz”. He ruined a perfectly good Satanist, Nazi, Viking loving Lance Henriksen; something I will never forgive that Seahawk for doing. As it stands, he’s stuck as a supporting character in Mark Wahlberg movies or yet another Transporter or Crank movie. (Which looks bad ass and I’m not afraid to admit that). Same goes for Dwayne “Don’t call me The Rock” Johnson. Although in Dwayne’s case, he has no one to blame but himself. Dude, little career advice from your friendly neighborhood Geek. You do the wacky comedies after you make a killing doing some on-screen killing.

So, does the massive box-office take from Fast and Furious mean a return to brainless but fantastic action film? I hope so, but I kinda’ doubt it.


Hell if I know, I gotta’ go play me some more Left 4 Dead.

Oh, wait… Guess I do know why.

One thought on “Is the Action Film Back?”

  1. In the Rock’s case it’s totally calculated though, he’s done what Will Smith did in a fashion and picked projects solely on profitability. Which I guess is good because yeah becoming a bankable star is something every actor should strive to do, but I think if he were to throw out a major action movie once a year there would be a certain audience for it to be sure. Thank god for Clive Owen and Jason Statham for realizing not every movie has to be Macbeth or The Pacifier.

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