Athletes young and old love action movies. They are the highest grossing films in cinema and usually spawn a slew of sleazy sequels. Many actors have made careers as action stars, and most don’t know when to quit, running from one explosion to the next (not unlike pro athletes who find it difficult to walk away from the game they love, even when it’s long past time to retire). But we’re not going to put up with it anymore. Here’s our list of five action stars who need to stop.
1. Sylvester Stallone
We love him for Rocky but wonder about the rest of his career. How the Italian Stallion went from an underdog Oscar winner to the evil toymaker in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003) is beyond us. Perhaps that’s why he disappeared from the screen until 2006, when he made a comeback as, you guessed it, Rocky Balboa. We don’t have a problem with his devotion to Rocky. The flick was actually pretty good, receiving more critical acclaim than expected. But Stallone took the positive affirmation from moviegoers too far. He quickly followed his successful return by making an unnecessary Rambo sequel and The Expendables, in which the older generation goes to war. The films make money (expect The Expendables 2 in 2012), so don’t count on casting directors to make him stop any time soon.
2. Arnold Schwarzenegger
The former bodybuilder was a natural choice to become an action star in the early ’80s. He made a name for himself with hit Conan and Terminator films and surprisingly good performances in Predator and True Lies. Then, as his star was dimming, Schwarzenegger made a graceful exit from the action genre with one last turn in Rise of the Machines. When he became the California Governator, most assumed his acting career was at an end. Au contraire, mon frère. Boredom seems to have set in for the disgraced politician. He’s now spending his days on the set of Last Stand, cast as Sheriff Ray Owens and chasing a drug cartel leader to the Mexican border. Expect mucho unrealistic stunts from the aging superhero. Seems like Schwarzenegger gave cinema fans the old bait-and-switch, distracting us with his spin around the political arena, then surprising us with what will likely be one of the worst movies of his career. Last Stand is scheduled to come out next year in the month of January, a time slot where movies go to be critically panned and die.
3. Tom Cruise
Top Gun is a classic. No other film so successfully mixed roaring ’80s music, high-flying jet action and awkward beach volleyball matches. But that was 1985. A lot has changed. Tom Cruise’s action career has seen the creation of The Simpsons, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of apps that pit cartoon birds against cartoon pigs. Yet he just released a fourth Mission Impossible movie, 26 years after Top Gun. By all accounts, Ghost Protocol is actually pretty good; critics have given it an average 73 rating on Metacritic, “generally favorable reviews.” That’s why we’re only giving Cruise a warning. He needs to realize the end is near for his action career. In fact, now would be a good time quit making action movies. Otherwise, he’ll be in danger of Brett Favre-ing the rest of his acting career.
4. Vin Diesel
Vin Diesel has made his action career off of one franchise, Fast & Furious. A sixth one is on the way. For better or worse, the Fast & Furious flicks have been booming blockbuster hits. So it’s no surprise Diesel clings to the series. However, this guy also starred in The Pacifier, generally considered a disaster. And we haven’t forgiven him for xXx. Not that the film was completely terrible, but it led to a Diesel-less sequel starring Ice Cube, who couldn’t possibly have been more out of place. To convince fans to start taking him seriously (he was great in Find Me Guilty), Diesel needs to stop with the action nonsense. Now.
5. Mel Gibson
His troubled personal life aside, Mel Gibson was a great action star. Love him or hate him, you cannot deny his success in films like Braveheart and the Lethal Weapon series, even if the latter lasted longer than it should have. But after taking a break from the action genre, Gibson returned amid controversy with Edge of Darkness. It’s not a bad action movie, but it did not need to be made. And this spring he’s set to release How I Spent My Summer Vacation, which is listed as an action-drama. Based on the plot description on imdb.com, it’s not clear whether Gibson will play a typical gung-ho weapons enthusiast or a more dynamic role. We’ll have to wait and see, while hoping he realizes the days of Martin Riggs and William Wallace are long gone.
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