However, sometime in the late 90s the production of these features eased up. Some of its stars decided to opt for alternate careers (as a Governor of California, for example), others began to oscillate more comfortably between genres (Willis) and the world simply stopped caring about the rest. But with the success of 2010’s The Expendables and the relinquishing of a specific governmental position, Hollywood recently decided it was time to reinstall these now geriatric meatheads as the kings offilmic carnage. The results haven’t been unanimously successful. Whilst Willis has continued to showcase his lustre with a pair of lucrative (albeit poorly regarded) Die Hardsequels, the rest of these quipping gym rats have found audience approval harder to win, with the latest victim, Schwarzenegger’s Sabotage, opening to a paltry $5 million Stateside. Is there really still room in Hollywood for these oversized titans and their undersized plots? Or is it time to finally hang up the dumbbells and find a cosy retirement home?
I must insist this article isn’t written out of disdain for the past works of these legitimate legends. I love Die Hard as much as the next bloke, and earnestly consider Predator, The Terminator and Total Recall to be science-fiction juggernauts. I’m the first to admit Bruce Willis is not only a star but also an undervalued actor, and Schwarzenegger’s participation in anything piques my curiosity. However, this newfound trend of placing them front and centre in Hollywood action vehicles seems regressive and I’m clearly not the only person who feels that way. Leaving aside the preposterous amounts garnered by The Expendables flicks (which stirs all these heroes into one almighty beefcake stew), this new wave of geriatric actioners has failed to ignite much interest. Despite mild critical enthusiasm and the presence of an auteur director, Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand could only manage a meagre $48 million worldwide, but even that dwarfs Stallone’s Bullet to the Head, which couldn’t even crawl past the $10 million mark domestically. Even together the duo elicited shrugs last year with Escape Plan, cooking up $25 million in the States (although that movie admittedly fared better overseas). These numbers aren’t those of rejuvenated titans; instead they feel like the final feeble whimpers of a dying bear.