And in 2017, we saw Jackie Chan (who is 64 years old but at least still looks like he gets carded in bars) kick some butt in The Foreigner after his daughter dies in a terrorist attack. While he can't bring his daughter back, he does get his ass-kicking ability back, and isn't that almost as good?
But right now, the king of this character type has to be Keanu Reeves, the world's most badass action star who also needs a yearly prostate exam. As John Wick, he has tumbled through carnage after carnage, renewing his dusty hitman union card after some mobsters kill his greatest love: a puppy.
Of course, this trend started with the Taken series, wherein Liam Neeson shoots his way through every European ethnicity to un-kidnap an assortment of helpless women. Neeson is still riding that violent old man wave to the bank, having starred in old-em-ups like Non-Stop, A Walk Among The Tombstones. and most recently The Commuter, where this time he has to use his old hands to kill young'uns on a train. You know, trains, that hip new mode of transportation? Maybe in the next one, Neeson can be called in to shoot up a hostage situation in a bingo parlor.
It's not hard to see why these movies are so popular. For one, unlike other schlocky action movies, they tend to attract big actors, as we now have a whole bunch of aging movie stars eager for one last action-packed hurrah before they spend the rest of their careers playing someone's sassy granddad. But it's also because Hollywood clearly has found a lucrative new demographic. By portraying a bunch of sad and lonely old dudes who did shitty things when they were younger but are suddenly needed again to fix things, Hollywood has also found a shortcut to the most lucrative, still-DVD-buying demographic of them all: bitter divorced dads.