Something interesting has emerged at your local multiplex the last few years: ageing action stars are all the rage.
We will never escape Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and everyone else featured in “The Expendables” franchise, but entering the fray are award-winning actors who were once all about the craft and now in their autumn years seem to just want to blow stuff up.
Here are six actors who are finding a second-life in the action genre.
1. Liam Neeson (Age: 62)
Neeson is the trailblazer in this vet action star phenomenon. Starting with the global success of “Taken” in 2008, Neeson has since added two more films to the franchise, has played Hannibal Smith in the movie adaptation of “The A-Team,” beat up wolves in “The Grey,” been Batman’s nemesis in “The Dark Knight Rises,” and battled terrorists on a plane in “Non-Stop.” His latest is in theatres this weekend, “Run All Night,” where he plays a vindictive father. We’re sure an announcement for his next butt-kicking project is soon coming.
2. Sean Penn (Age: 54)
Not even one of the greatest actors of our generation can escape this craze. In two weeks, the Oscar-winner comes out with “The Gunman” playing a former Special Forces soldier suffering PTSD while searching for his lost love. It’s hard to say if he’ll stay in this subgenre. Penn will step into the director’s chair for his next two projects. But if “The Gunman” does well, don’t be surprised if you see Penn back at it.
3. Helen Mirren (Age: 69)
Though some of the people on this list need the action genre, it’s the genre — any genre, in fact — that wants Dame Helen. She is glorious in the “Red” franchise as former agent Victoria, who is thrust back into the game after assisting her fellow “Retired Extremely Dangerous” colleagues. We’d love to see her do another action film, but sadly that probably won’t happen soon as she’s too busy doing what she does best, playing famous people. Next it’s Hedda Hooper in a film on blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo.
4. Kevin Costner (Age: 60)
Costner hasn’t made a huge impression in the action genre like others on this list, but he’s been holding his own. Last year he appeared in the Chris Pine/Keira Knightley-starring “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” and then played a dying CIA agent with nothing to lose in “3 Days to Kill.” This summer we’ll see the Oscar winner in the action/thriller “Criminal” as a dangerous criminal who has the skills, secrets, and memories of a dead CIA agent implanted in his head.
5. Colin Firth (Age: 54)
With the success of “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” we are excited to see the next chapter of this British spy thriller which has Firth playing a stylishly bad arse veteran agent. It’s a glimpse at Firth we’ve never seen, but with his button-down British demeanor he fits the part perfectly. No word yet on the sequel, but we’d be shocked if it didn’t come out in the next few years.
6. Denzel Washington (Age: 60)
Let’s face it, Denzel has been kicking butt his whole career, but re-teaming with “Training Day” director Antoine Fuqua recently for “The Equaliser” was a little different. Usually playing the cop or assassin when doing an action film, this time he’s just a lonely guy who tries to help a girl in need. That is, until things get dangerous and somepower toolsare close by. The action won’t stop for Washington. Next he saddles up with Fuqua for a remake of “The Magnificent Seven.”
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