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Friday 22 February 2013, 11:51

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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Geriaction is the word that has recently been coined to describe a genre of movies starring some of the senior citizens of the film world. Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis are all in cinemas at the moment but it's nothing new for old duffers to be doing this kind of stuff...

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A Bad Day For Die Hard?

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    Comment number 1.

    this was a hilarious blog dr - i just assumed it was one big ploy to sell more 'Expendables' dvd's

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    Comment number 2.

    AND rumour has it that Harrison is signing up to get back in the pilot seat of the Millennium Falcon.

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    Comment number 3.

    No mention of Tough Guys....?

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    Comment number 4.

    Absolutely hilarious! I have no problem with watching older people on screen but they need to quit doing action movies. They're ruining my memories of some of my favourite films, such as the Indiana Jones trilogy. It's the equivalent of seeing Madonna gyrating in a G-string.....She needs to quit that too!!

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    Comment number 5.

    Geriaction is nothing new whatsoever, and the one person I'm going to blame for the rise of the sub-genre is Charles Bronson. The Death Wish sequels he did in the 80s for Cannon (remember them?) are just terrible. Bronson clearly looked tired and fed up running around and shooting everything from a .22 Beretta to a Rocket Launcher, and the films themselves looked gaudy, cheap and were just ridiculous.

    That's not to say that geriaction can work. Clint Eastwood in Grand Torino, Michael Caine in Harry Brown, and last but not least Sean Connery in The Rock. The films themselves maybe average or lower, but they are saved by the fact that the main protagonist is played by a brilliant actor and said protagonist is given a half believable motive in being caught up in the situation of said film.

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    Comment number 6.

    Just think Dr K, in another 5 years you'll have your seniors card and get half price movie tickets. So it's not all bad.

    The one geriaction movie I didn't mind was RED. Loved seeing Helen Mirren and Brian Cox surpassing Bruce Willis and John Malkovich in the action stakes.

    I hope we aren't going to be seeing the same actors in another 10-20 years still trying to do it tough on screen.

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    Comment number 7.

    As a relatively youthful 30-something I am actually quite happy to see the likes of Dame Helen Mirren still kicking backside in the likes of RED and The Debt - a woman clearly old enough to be my mother and when she's got a gun in her hands, I need to think unsexy thoughts. Helen Mirren with a gun in her hands - especially when it's a big gun - is to me borderline pornographic and long may she continue to give men young and old a thrill or two!

    However, the issue to me isn't how old a person is - it's how well (or not) they can act. Bruce Willis can obviously act and as he has demonstrated - especially on Top Gear last week - he's not above ridiculing himself as well. Sylvester Stallone and Arnie, on the other hand, just don't work nearly as well as Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and Judi Dench. There's something a little too "Oh do go back to the 80's!" about Arnie and Stallone now, a little outdated. They were never thespians in the proper sense anyway, and now it's all going south taking the mickey out of their age seems to be mostly all that is left. It's really rather sad to see,

    But age is but a number. There are plenty of actors and actresses who are well into their sixties and seventies who are not just doing action movies, but doing them really rather well. They can act it out, it seems believable and the movies work because of the talent. Last Stand and Bullet To The Head work because it's "Look! LOOK! Arnie! Stallone! They've made new movies!" There's no real quality to be had - just a spectacle, and in Arnie's case in particular, it's a rather sad spectacle as well.

    But as long as they have an audience - and they will, it's Arnie and Stallone (and I hear Jean-Claude Van Damme has three movies coming up as well!). People will go and laugh along with the one-liners about how they're getting too old for this.

    It's not that they're too old though. It's just... at that stage of their life, diversification would be awesome. Get in some new material and enjoy the acting. Arnie and Stallone can't do that though - they never were actors, just action heroes. And eventually your action heroes will just look terribly old and ill-suited for what they're doing on screen. Eventually you think, "Yeah, you really are too old to be doing this stuff, Arnie!".

    That's my take on it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I just got another image of Helen Mirren pistol-whipping that guy in RED. Whew... cold shower... need a cold shower...

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    Comment number 8.

    I don't understand why everyone is so crazed by the "geriaction" films out recently, especially the ones like Bullet to the Head and A Good Day to Die Hard. With Schwarzenegger I can understand since he's only just come back into being a leading action star, but Stallone's been making movies like this since the mid-2000s e.g. Rambo (4), Rocky Balboa, The Expendables. The man, although in his 60s, is still in pretty decent shape. Sure he may be old, but that doesn't make him less intimidating.
    Same for Willis. Granted, he's mostly been supporting other stars in his more recent films, but for a guy who's 57, he still looks to me like he can do a lot of the stuff that John McClane is supposed to do, and it doesn't take that much suspension of disbelief for me. Whether Bullet to the Head, Last Stand or A Good Day to Die Hard are good or not (I have yet to see any of them) I still really like all 3 actors, and enjoy their good films. I think in terms of dramatic acting talent, Willis and Stallone are underrated, even though Schwarzenegger can do better.

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    Comment number 9.

    the reason these guys are are doing this again is down to the fact that there s no one modern to replace them in the genre. Today's breed of male 'movie star' just don't have the charisma to to carry an action movie. they're all rather feminine if the truth be told

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    Comment number 10.

    I think the worst culprit was Charles Bronson. He was 72 when he did Deathwish 5! The thing was, he really did look his age, and did not age gracefully. Yet, he still kept churning them out.
    Its a bit like listening to Paul McCartney. You want to be reminded of the good old days when they were in the prime, but instead all you get is a badly dated copy of a copy of an original. The difference being Paul doesnt have a special effects team, and an army of young stuntmen to improve his ageing.
    I think Clint Eastwood is perhaps the most level headed of the old geezers, since at least he tries to choose films that are more his age (Gran Torino) but the day he does Dirty Harry 6, i am going to throw a metal plated old age bus pass at his head.

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    Comment number 11.

    "Ah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now."
    Bob Dylan

    There's an aspect of this that people aren't talking about though: who used to be the biggest audience for Hollywood action pictures? Who used to be the big market in the post-Lucas era? teenage boys, of course! Where are teenage boys now? Glued to video game consoles. Why watch an action movie when you can actually experience it? The dopamine-injection levels in a video game are huge compared to old-style action movies, most of which look dated now in their inability to satiate the audiences' lust violence and destruction. It's why things have been ramped up into quadruple maximum overdrive by people like Michael Bay, who, however vilified, has caught the zeitgeist and what audiences want to see.

    But nostalgia? Ah, nostalgia will get people into seats, desperate to recapture their lost youth as their 30s climb. Think of all of the 80s and 90s stuff getting revived recently: Transformers, G.I. Joe, The A-Team, Rambo, Predator, The Expendables, Rocky, Indiana Jones, Clash of the Titans, Red Dawn, The Smurfs, Hot Tub Time Machine, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Zombieland, Footloose, The Thing, Arthur, Fright Night, Friday the 13th, the list is endless. It's the last dying spark of an attempt to regain the audience as cinema desperately attempts to compete with new media in the post-Internet age in an increasingly fragmented world. That's a least partially the reason for it, and I think it's a pretty big reason. I jockeyed out see Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol on the huge IMAX screen, and I was by far the youngest person there, most were there out of presumed nostalgia for the old 60s TV series.

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    Comment number 12.

    What no Danny Glover saying "I'm too old for this s**t"?!

    Anyway, Dr K. I shall be 45 this year. So, doesn't that make you half way between me and somebody else?!

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    Comment number 13.

    Well, Mark! you look dapper for a man nearly approaching 50; heres to another 50 years of concise film criticism, with apt conviction. I believe that, whatever age of the actor, action or drama, boils down to a decent script. Out of the recent crop of action hero resurgency, i would nominate 'The Last Stand:' enjoyable, and at least tolerable. Still, we have 'The Tomb' arriving this fall with Arnie and Sly. But the film that pains me to watch is Roger Moore's last outing as Bond in 'A View To A Kill,' especially his arduous attempt to ascend the stairs of the Eiffel Tower: painful, my dear, Roger.

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    Comment number 14.

    You're doing v well Dr. Kermode: A full thick mop of hair, still suggestive of a virile man ready to "blow shoot up" & "Let's go kill some bad guys. That always makes me feel better!"

    1) The generation thing: Of franchises of people in their late 20's-40's -> naustalgia: Eg Transformers 1-3 was a big reason for this being made (see docu/making of).

    2) Yup video-games are more action packed: Call Of Duty and all these FPS are much more intense.

    3) Possibly the new action stars are not cut from the same clothe: Arnie, to quote Dylan Moran: "He got there by lifting things" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlLpCh-lE54#t=01m14s

    4) Hollywood studios has gradually shifted from traditional sources of stories (historic, classical, theatre, adaptations of books) for their MAIN BLOCKBUSTER CASH COWS towards much more puerile Action movies, Comic movies, Computer Game movies (World of Warcraft?), Franchises of IPs eg Battleship boardgame - so the combination of this with the aforementioned: Seems possibly *ie big name guarantee for elder audiences* seem to provide this niche for this "geriaction" genre? Equally given T3 can be used for the governator to raise funds for his last fund-raising for political elections. Is this a product of the finances of Hollywood or of the USA and Western culture's lack of adult identity? IE sociologically later marriages, aging population makes it more acceptable - how good is modern medicine?

    I'm personally not too keen on this stuff. Sports players know when it's time to move on physically even if it's tough mentally. I think Unforgiven and Carlito's Way were excellent movies in regards to perceiving age differently (eg lower testosterone and wt h? reactions) and more reflective with memory and history as/more relevant than the present. I think where old age becomes a story that is compelling is more along the lines of: Legend: "The dreams of youth become the regrets of maturity" - ie a good life into old age inclusive although a good thing, likely is not a great basis for a story. :) Hence: Samuel Johnson: "Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been at sea."

    Tbh, some of the Bollywood actors are far worse than these Hollywood actors, in this respect, where such actors are adored so much, they continue to feel compelled/can get away with roles they really are creaking along at.

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    Comment number 15.

    Easy Mark, 50 is the new 40… and if you live in Los Angeles, it's the new 30.

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    Comment number 16.

    Mark, if you can't work for whatever reason, save the reviews for another week. Don't hire someone else. It's supposed to be Kermode and Mayo. Remember how you complained about Jason Bourne not being in the new Bourne movie? Well, that's very hypocritical.

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    Comment number 17.

    At the ripe old age of 59, Clark Gable was catching wild horses in the 40+ C of desert heat in the 1961 movie The Misfits. Gable insisted on doing his own stunts, including being dragged about 400 feet across the dry lake bed at more than 30 miles per hour. Two days after shooting he suffered a heart attack and died soon after.

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    Comment number 18.

    Jackie Chan is still going strong, although he never had a latency period.

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    Comment number 19.

    Gran Torino was Eastwood’s anti-action move of course. Inverting his action hero persona at the end of his career.

    Rocky 6 – against my expectations – managed to pull off a return of an aging Rocky. Stallone managed a half decent script for once.

    Nostalgia plays a part in keeping aging action heroes careers going. That and that since the early 90s blockbusters have made CGI the main selling point at the expense of star power. With the exception of Statham it’s difficult to think of a major action star who has emerged since the 1980s.

    Geriaction looks like it’s going to continue with the rumoured return of Hamill and Ford in the next Star Wars movie. Is anyone looking forward this this?

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    Comment number 20.

    #19. I think any comments/observations by the Good Dr about Messrs Ford & Hamill in the next Star Wars (I nearly wrote Star Warts by mistake, now I'm waiting for the backlash!!) will be extremely interesting!!

 

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Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

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