Last Action Heroes? Has the Macho, Action Genre Hit a Low Point?

Last Action Heroes? Has the Macho, Action Genre Hit a Low Point?
Photo: Warner Bros. / Open Road / Lionsgate

I didn’t quite know how to describe the genre I’m referring to with this post (BoxOfficeMojo doesn’t even have a category for it), but suffice to say I’m particularly targeting the films made popular by the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone back in the ’80s and more recently it seems Jason Statham had a lock down on things. Now, however, it only seems Liam Neeson can really generate any box-office juice with his cinematic fisticuffs, otherwise it has to be an ensemble or nothing.

I ask because ever since Schwarzenegger made his way back to movies after playing Governor for eight years, he’s seen The Last Stand, Escape Plan and this past weekend’s Sabotage tank at the box office.

Similarly, Stallone has seen Bullet to the Head, Escape Plan and Grudge Match bomb at the box office and Statham has seen a string of non-starters including Killer Elite, The Mechanic, Safe, Parker, Redemption and Homefront. Between the three men only The Expendables and The Expendables 2 has shown any kind of real profit in the past three years or so while Neeson has dominated with the Taken franchise, The Grey, Unknown and Non-Stop. What gives?

Granted, Escape Plan did dominate overseas (making over $112 million), but perhaps this once again shows evidence neither Stallone or Schwarzenegger can open a film on their own.

Have audiences seen enough of Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Statham? What is it Neeson provides those three don’t? Is it the fact he’s simply a better actor? Why does it take the teaming of the Three S’s in Expendables to really generate any box office juice?

Stallone’s biggest success outside of Expendables was his returns to Rocky and Rambo, while Schwarzenegger will likely find love with Terminator: Genesis, but that’s simply returning to old territory rather than finding something new. Speaking of which, will that Legend of Conan film actually get made? What about that Twins sequel we’ve heard might be on the way? Is anyone interested?

Of the films mentioned above, I enjoyed Escape Plan and Homefront, but perhaps these small gold flecks in a pile of dull stones just don’t interest audiences enough to go panning through the mud to find them until they hit DVD and Blu-ray. What do you think? Am I overlooking anything?

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