The '90s Weird Trend Of Action Stars Murdering Old Men
We tend to view the '90s with the brightest-eyed, bushiest tailed, nostalgic lens possible. After all, this is the era riiiiight before 9/11. But we'd like you to replace that image of safe spaces and dreams of being born to be the very best with another one, specifically an image of action stars gunning down old people like it was purge day at the retirement home. That's because if there was one cinematic trend that defined the '90s, it was, inexplicably, action stars murdering the shit out of old men.
Does that memory feel a little foggy? Well, don't tell that to the '90s because an in-his-prime Sly Stalone might mistake you for a geriatric and beat your ass for it as he did to John Lithgow at the end of Cliffhanger.
It's brutal to watch. Lithgow isn't actually that old in this movie (only 46 at the time), but tell us he doesn't have the build and look of the most generic Grandpa you've ever seen. That doesn't stop Stallone, however, from whacking Lithgow's head back and forth like it's a tetherball tied to a post - a very feeble, decrepit post.
But that's not even as bad as the end of Speed ends with a young Keanu Reeves takes on an always-old Dennis Hopper…
… and decapitates him. Yeah, Keanu, you're taller, but you're also a good 30 years younger, in your prime, and soon to be the star of the Matrix. At any point, you could have tossed that old bag over the edge with nary a tennis grunt, but you chose to wait until the train reached an overhanging light fixture because this is a '90s movie, and that means the gruesome death of old men for some reason.
Want another example? Here's Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible murdering Jon Voight so hard that the entire AARP can feel it:
Good lord, that old man just got crushed to death with a helicopter, and then that helicopter exploded on top of him. We get he's the bad guy, but dammit, Tom, couldn't you just have switched out his heart medication? That's someone's Pop Pop, for crying out loud!
And let's not forget the granddaddy (killer) of them all - Steven Seagal absolutely savaging Tommy Lee Jones in a way that only Steven Seagal can:
Tommy Lee Jones never stood a chance, but that doesn't stop the world's greatest martial artist from gouging out Tommy Lee's eye with his thumb and then turning his head into an Agent K popsicle.
We're not sure how to account for this trend. On the one hand, it makes sense that generic action movie villains would be on the older side -- a penchant for evil is something that accrues over time, like plaque or Emmy awards if you're anybody but Jon Voight. However, the '90s seemed to have an overabundance of old-men-bad-guys and certainly made no qualms about showing them get curb-stomped into oblivion. We're just lucky that A Few Good Men didn't end with Tom Cruise taking Jack Nicholson behind the courthouse and slicing him up with a machete.
I guess what we're saying is hug your grandpa kids, and if you're having a movie night with your grandparents, maybe stick to something that doesn't make them think of their own impending deaths.
Top Image: 20th Century Fox