Last night, I watched one of the stupidest action movies I have ever seen. It doesn’t even matter what it was, just fill in the name of almost any movie made in the past decade. It was loud, ludicrous, and totally devoid of common sense, logic, gravity, and the laws of physics. It featured a cast of bland actors, a script filled with unimaginative dialogue, and a plot a seven-year old could write – in crayon. National monuments were destroyed, the implied civilian death toll resulting from shootings, explosions, and car accidents was astronomical, and everyone knew kung-fu. There was no blood, no nudity, and one PG-13 allowed curse. Sigh. I miss the 80s.
The movies of my youth were filled with blood, boobs, and bad language. Men either shot each other or beat the crap out of each other, the way God intended. A bad guy was simply a bad guy. He didn’t have an emotionally /financially/ physically traumatizing back story that turned him evil. The plot, meager as it may have been, unfolded organically – one thing always led to another. There weren’t a whole lot of flashbacks, flash forwards, time travel, or alternate universes (Terminator being the exception to the rule.)
Sadly, all that has changed. Then, when someone went on a rampage, there were bodies and blood everywhere. Now, there is nary a wayward body part or a soot-covered, bloodied civilian in sight. Where’s the fun in that? And where are the boobs? I’m so tired of modern actresses discussing how nudity must serve the role. Oh grow up. They are just boobs. Show ‘em if you got ‘em. You probably paid enough for them, might as well get your money’s worth. Worst of all, in 1988, you got “Yippie-ki-yay, motherfucker." In 2007, all you got was the Yippie. No motherfucking allowed. Really? I curse under my breath if I stub my toe – if I have to shoot myself through the shoulder to save the world, I’m pretty sure I’m going to unleash a set of expletives that will make a sailor blush.
Women in action movies today are all based on Trinity – all black leather and blank faces. Ho hum. Sure, the women of the 80s were always just arm candy or damsels in distress, but they had pizzazz. Holly Gennaro and Marion Ravenwood were filled with piss and vinegar, and even Minnie Mouse-voiced Sarah Connor had enough brains to duck when necessary. The new crop of women may be Evil with a capital E, but they are boring, boring, boring. Yes, Lara Croft was a good-girl who could kick ass, but she never seemed to enjoy it.
Plus, I just really miss the slow build of a plot and characters that lead to relatable action. Hans Gruber did not step out from the elevator onto the 30th floor of the Nakatomi Plaza until the 23 minute mark. By that point in most modern movies, half the planet has been destroyed. We were shown, not told that Gruber was a charming criminal mastermind. I don’t think Gabriel of Live Free and Die Hard was cool enough to be Theo’s intern. McClane stuffed everything he found into his pockets (excluding the detonators, which wouldn’t fit). Now, everyone has a man-bag stuffed with the latest technology and can turn any household appliance into a weapon. There is just no thrill in watching someone work on a computer, no matter how fast they type.
Give me a lead who needs to shave more than once a week, a plot that can stand on its own, and madness and mayhem that actually serves the story. Throw in some good lines, good action sequences, and a solid ending that isn’t automatically set up for a sequel and I am one happy woman.
(Obviously, the Bourne series is above reproach because it has Matt Damon in it.)