Saturday, August 11, 2012

Can aging action heroes strike box office gold . . . again?

Two years ago, Sylvester Stallone unveiled a movie that everyone thought would fail.

But it didn’t.

I’m talking about the surprise hit of 2010 – ‘The Expendables.’

Filmed on a $70 million budget, the move raked in more than $266 million – and proved it wasn’t time to put Stallone out to pasture just yet.

Throughout the years, Stallone is probably best known for his roles as Rocky and Rambo. It should be noted, though, that he’s also a good writer and a decent director.

Still, when he reached a certain age, Stallone found it hard to find roles in Hollywood.

He wasn’t alone. His 1980s action brethren were struggling as well. Arnold Schwarzenegger may have spent years as a political figure, but even before he ran for governor of California his movie roles were drying up.

Jet Li never really caught on with American audiences and Dolph Lundgren has been relegated to B-movie bins for years.

Still, there was something fun about ‘The Expendables.’ It reminded viewers of a time long past – one where gratuitous violence wasn’t frowned upon but embraced.

Stallone was smart when he cast ‘The Expendables.’ Sure, it was anchored by an older cast, but it was also balanced out with the always reliable Jason Statham who, at the age of 45, was still active in the action movie scene.

The plot of ‘The Expendables’ was ludicrous to begin with – but it was still fun.

When I heard about ‘The Expendables 2’ – which opens Friday – I was justifiably dubious.

Just because a movie is a surprise hit – that doesn’t mean you should ruin it with a sequel. Note: ‘Taken 2’ should have quit while they were ahead.
 I balked at the idea – at first.

Then I heard some of the casting tidbits coming from the set. In addition to the returning cast – Lundgren still looks hot, by the way – Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris would also be appearing in the movie.

That’s just too much 1980s action hero action to miss.

Stallone still wasn’t done, though. In addition to the older generation, he had also added Liam Hemsworth (the least talented of the Hemsworth brothers, but still phenomenally popular). Yes, the Liam Hemsworth that is in ‘The Hunger Games.’

Say what you want about Stallone, but he’s smart. Now ‘The Expendables 2’ – which has a reported budget of $80 million -- will also appeal to teenage girls. Of course, these teenage girls might be freaked out at all these muscle-bound old men – but they’ll have already paid their money so it won’t matter.

Stallone is 66 years old and his body still looks phenomenal. In fact, the majority of the cast – with the exceptions of Schwarzenegger and Van Damme – are still quite attractive.

So now, a movie I was convinced was a bad idea, is suddenly looking like a good idea to me.

The plot of ‘The Expendables 2’ revolves around the death of one of their own – but plot isn’t really important in these movies anyway.

We’re talking about a lot of shooting, a lot of gratuitous muscle-flexing and a lot of action sequences that couldn’t possibly happen.

Yeah, bring it on. I’m geeked.

Something tells me that, much like Schwarzenegger’s cheesy lines, this group will be back again.

What do you think? Are you looking forward to ‘The Expendables 2’?

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