WARNING: There are going to be some spoilers of several movies mentioned in this article; read at your own risk.
I have been watching action movies for a very long time, and the older I get, the more I focus on the written script, and how the movie progresses with every passing minute. Lately I started to enjoy reading novels more than watching a two-hour version of it, or maybe it’s just me being old and rambling to fellow readers, but I digress.
Action films are great! It has violence, guns, a hero who saves the day, and a villain for us to love hating, and see a happy ending; however, modern action films are simply recycling the same cliched format but with different titles and actors, not bringing much entertainment but rather only focus on the actors’ good looks instead of their talents, or even care about the plot of the film.
If I must be perfectly honest, any movie starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson or anyone like him in the same style of acting is overrated and overly-cliched in many aspects. Modern action movies contain the following inane overly used stock characters that some readers can identify when watching action films: –
- Veteran hero
The protagonist whose tragic background always haunts him, whether their family/loved one is killed by an unknown criminal, natural disaster, or the film’s villain, but somehow still manages to save the day while only getting few scratches. In addition, the veteran hero is somewhat directly or indirectly involved with the military or intelligence agencies such as the CIA or Interpol, there is no in between.
- The Hero’s Best Friend
In some action movies the veteran hero always has this one best friend who either leaves their job for the sake of retirement or just tired of being the hero, and for some reason they’re the source of annoying catch phrases and idiotic decisions. Sometimes I wonder why the villain hasn’t shot them yet or get killed off early in the movie, then I remember that the producers possess the power of plot armor, meaning that they have immunity from being killed off or be grievously harmed.
- The love interest
The love interest of the veteran hero, either divorced and is easily kidnapped by the villain or heavily injured or has met the veteran hero long time ago and used to work with him in the past. There nothing in between. It shows how Hollywood continues this sexist cycle in action movies and I am sure some of the readers can agree.
- The Villain
I have noticed this pathetic trend in modern action movies, specifically with the villain being a mob boss of the following ethnic groups: Japanese Yakuza, Russian or Italian Mafias, Middle Eastern Militias, Eastern European gangs, or African militias. The villain is usually portrayed as power-hungry and always sending their lackeys to the do job of killing the hero instead of doing it themselves. They always end up dying in an explosion, a bullet to the head, or in some occasions, remerge from death for another unneeded sequel.
What makes modern action movies cringe-worthy is the use of untalented social media influencers combined with market research on which age gaps Hollywood can get money from the most. An example of this was the Twilight Saga starring Robert Pattinson, and because the movie focuses on bringing good looking actors instead of talented ones, the movie attracted mostly teenagers in ad revenue. Another example is Will Smith’s recent film “Gemini Man”, and the movie talks about Will Smith being a retired Black Ops agent for the CIA, and because he was getting old, they created a younger clone of him to face him in a battle of wits. I am not against the general idea of fighting your own clone, however the movie’s execution in script writing, production, and ending, is somewhat cliched, evidenced by The Hollywood Reporter’s writer Sharareh Drury, commenting:
“Despite the incredible visual effects and the director’s dedication to explore an emerging digital aesthetic, Dalton says Gemini Man cannot escape its “amateurish” details such as “formulaic screenplay,” “stock characters” and overall “disconcerting effect of making a big-budget cinematic spectacle look like a vintage video-taped TV drama.”
In closing, I have stopped watching modern action films for the reasons at the beginning of this article, and if Hollywood continues this cliched recycle of script writing and production, I hope someone like me riots to this issue.
Beresford, Trilby, and Sharareh Drury. “’Gemini Man’: What the Critics Are Saying.” The Hollywood Reporter, 11 Oct. 2019, http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/gemini-man-review-roundup-what-critics-are-saying-1243319.