I saw the film Red the other day. I won't review it here, because the Weekly already employs an awesome review making guy. But seeing the film made me feel really old, not as old as the characters, but old all the same.
Red is about a group of retired ass-kickers that have to get back into the game to uncover a secret government plot. I guess it could easily be compared to the Expendables—cool old people proving that they still got it. I have to say that I enjoyed Red, but something felt off about it.
A few days after seeing the flick I was hanging out waiting for my partner Pete to drop by and it occurred to me that I hadn't seen Total Recall in a while. These are the sorts of things that occur to me—the time that has elapsed since the viewings of certain movies. Oh, and when I've had certain candies. I haven't had Nerds in over 3 years!
So, Peter shows up and we're enjoying the majesty that is Total Recall. And I have to tell you, it still holds up. Sure, most of the “futuristic” technology is laughable when compared to the technology we have here in the actual future, but Total Recall still kicks ass.
Later that day, while talking to the Sweetie, I started to think about Red and Total Recall and action and getting old. What I thought about would go on to become this article that you're reading...Right Now!
Red was fun and violent, but Total Recall was VIOLENT. After the first 10 minutes of T.R., Douglass Quaid (Schwarzenegger) systematically breaks the neck of ever character that enters the screen for the duration of the film. Well, I'm exaggerating here. Not everyone get's their neck broken. Some people get shot in the face.
As I was recalling this, it occurred to me just how much joy I took in all of this. I would imagine that the normal and decent human response to such violence would be sickness and perhaps offense. My responses to all this bloody violence was child-like glee and applause. I wasn't alone in this, either. Peter was right there giggling at every spine crack just as I did.
The late eighties and early nineties were full of these overly violent action flicks, and I loved them all! Robocop and True Lies and T2—The hero didn't just wound the bad guy, he killed the shit out of you and the screen flowed red with the proof! And we ate it up! Back before the invention of the DVD, you'd hear tales of the MPAA slicing scenes from these films in order to get R ratings. You'd hear about secret director's cuts that included double the be-headings of the theatrical release. This was the good time. But those days are long gone.
Violent action just ain't what it used to be. Neither are the action heroes.
The entire point of Red is that it's stars are retired. Bruce Willis is old enough to retire—he's 55. It hurts to type that. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Stallone—all of our action hero's are old! And Hollywood isn't making anymore. I hate to believe that we've outgrown the days of tough guys jumping from windows, taking 4 swift shots to the groin, leaping from a fireball, and still having the strength to eviscerate the evil bad guy from an unspecified European country in mid-air.
But, think about it—who do we have left? Taylor Lautner? I'll renounce my American citizenship before I agree that that guy is an action star. Just because secretaries and soccer moms enjoy looking at this bastards hairless chest, it doesn't mean he's a star.
Schwarzenegger was a star! Willis was a star, and now they're old. That means I'm old, too.
Red has a mild PG-13. There were some shootings. An explosion or two, but nothing like the backbreaking, head exploding action flicks of my youth.
I guess at the end of the day, reminiscing about how much I miss the violence in films could be considered irresponsible and immature- I can't disagree with that. Sorry.
I'm gonna go watch The Last Boyscout. You have fun being bored with Julie and Julia. We'll see who comes out on top.
J’Mel Davidson is the founder of a local improv comedy troupe called The Feminist Debutante Guild. You can send him the love—or a copy of Starship Troopers—via firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.