Why Are Action Movies Suddenly Full Of Old Men?
When Roger Moore donned the martini-soaked tuxedo for his final go as James Bond, movie critics seemed to take a special kind of joy in describing what an old man he was. They said he was, "Not believable anymore in the action sequences, even less so in the romantic scenes," and even joked that his next Q gadget should be a walker. How old was Roger Moore at the time? 57, the same age Tom Cruise currently is as he makes Top Gun: Maverick. Cruise will be nearly 60 when he makes the next scheduled Mission: Impossible movie. Do you think the mission will be going to the bathroom, for the third time, in the middle of the night without breaking his hip?
To be fair when you see Roger Moore with a love interest young enough to be his granddaughter you think, that's an old man and a very young woman. When you see Tom Cruise with a love interest young enough to be his granddaughter you think, that's a hot old man with a very young woman. When Moore was growing up a healthy diet consisted of at least two packs of cigarettes a day and as much meat encased in Jell-O as your body could handle. 57 looks a little different for movie stars now then it did back then, but it still seems strange how quickly we went from "LOL, look at this Grandpa playing James Bond!" to MOST of our action stars being in their fifties.
One of the biggest action movie franchises right now is John Wick, which Keanu Reeves started at 49 and is scheduled to be working on until he's at least 56. At least he got a head-start on Liam Neeson, who began the Taken franchise at 56. The Fast And The Furious films are now entirely people in their forties and fifties. They could be bringing on fresh-faced action heroes to shake up the crew, but instead are throwing in 68-year-old Kurt Russel, 64-year-old Michael Rooker, and 42-year-old John Cena. Now, I'm not saying there aren't any roles in action movies for young people anymore. After all, those men need girlfriends. That's what I love about action movies. The men get old, but the women always stay the same age. (I'm kidding, I super don't love that.)
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Roger Moore was embarrassed to learn that he was older than his love interest's mother in A View To Kill. The current James Bond, Daniel Craig, is 51 while his love interest Lea Seydoux is 34. Glad that the Bond franchise learned its lesson and kept the age difference to a modest 17 years. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw also presented us with two love interests that were a mere 22 and 16 years younger than the main characters. Vanessa Kirby plays Jason Statham's sister, complete with flashbacks of them together as children, even though she is 21 years younger than him. So is Kirby playing a decade or so old than she is, or is Statham meant to be a decade younger than his actual age? Man, it just sucks that most women over 35 don't exist. Or if they do, that they've all taken to covering themselves in cloaks and hiding in tall towers.
There is one woman that frequents action movies now who is firmly in her forties: Charlize Theron. She went from mostly doing high drama Oscar bait to Mad Max: Fury Road, Atomic Blonde, and The Fast And The Furious 79. The previously mentioned Liam Neeson also had a similar trajectory of aging into being an action movie star instead of out of it. It used to be that an actor would start a career in rom-coms or action flicks and then transition into more "serious roles" but it seems like it's now going the other way around. People get their sad movies out of the way while they're young, do a victory lap, then start fighting terrorists in popcorn flicks. Do we only want to see people over 40 kick-ass for some reason? And is that good for the actors starring in these movies?
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Action movie are notoriously more physically demanding than any other kind of film. Tom Cruise broke his ankle filming Mission: Impossible - Fallout which caused a delay in filming. Jackie Chan has been begging to retire from action movies since 2012, saying that his body can't keep up with the stunts. "Action stars' life is short, actor's life is very long," he told the Associated Press at the time. Yet, here we are eight-years-later and he's kicking a not small amount of ass in the trailer for the upcoming movie Project X Traction. Sure, they shout out that he's an old man in the trailer, but then they quickly move on to him kicking a dude in the head with both of his legs at the same time. Jackie Chan is 65 years old. Can the man please do a movie where sits in a pillow fort and counts marshmallow next? I'd watch it.
I'm not saying that old people don't have a place in Hollywood. I think it's great that roles aren't drying up for everyone over 40 anymore. Except for most of the women, who as we covered, start to slowly fade from Hollywood existence like Marty Mcfly in Back To The Future after they hit 35.
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