C'MON HOLLYWOOD: Are modern action movies soulless?

A few days ago, while promoting the upcoming COWBOYS & ALIENS, Harrison Ford was quoted by the L.A Times as saying, essentially, that modern action films are soulless. Specifically, he said, "I think what a lot of action movies lose these days, especially the ones that deal with fantasy, is you stop caring at some point because you've lost human scale. With the CGI, suddenly there’s a thousand enemies instead of six - the army goes off into the horizon. You don't need that."

Harrison, as far as I’m concerned, you’re preaching to the choir! Modern action films are, indeed, often soulless- with some obvious exceptions. I’d wager that the last few Bond films (at least since Daniel Craig came on-board), and the BOURNE franchise are exceptions to that rule, but for the most part, action films have become a bit soulless (and often tedious).

Even something great like FAST FIVE, which I had a ball with, doesn’t have the human element that some of the truly great action flicks like the INDIANA JONES trilogy (let’s pretend the fourth doesn’t exist), the LETHAL WEAPONs, the MAD MAXs, the (first two) TERMINATORs, etc had. Case in point- the DIE HARD series.

The first DIE HARD was an action masterpiece, with Bruce Willis’ John McClane being a very human hero. Take the fantastic scene where McClane has to run barefoot across a room strewn with broken glass, and later pulls the shards out of his torn-up feet, while tearfully telling Reginald Vel Johnson’s Al, that he’s starting to think he’s not going to make it out of the Nakatomi plaza alive. Nowadays, a similar scene would probably get cut by the studio, for making the hero look like anything less than a God.

By comparison, we have LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, where the same character, twenty years older, is now a borderline superhero- jumping on to jets, and single-handed saving the world from a madman. The action was huge, but huge isn’t necessarily exciting, and I’ll take his bare fist brawl with Alexander Godunov from part-one, over him taking out a helicopter with a car.

CGI is obviously the culprit, but it’s still a tool that can be used effectively. I think the over-emphasis on superhero films is what’s really killed the action flick, as the superhero genre has gotten so popular, even a formerly low-tech franchise like FAST AND FURIOUS is being molded into something that’s no less outlandish than something like IRON MAN.

Again, I really liked FAST FIVE, and even THOR, but there’s got to be room for smaller-scaled action films. God forbid LETHAL WEAPON gets remade, as it’ll be so freakishly exaggerated, it’ll lose sight of the fact that the chemistry between the two leads were what made the films what they were.

That said, there are exceptions to the rule. Christopher Nolan’s films always have a lot of heart, and emotion running through them, no matter how huge the action scenes are. Ditto something like J.J Abraham’s STAR TREK. But, it does get tiresome to see heroes wipe out armies of villains instead of a more believable number. I’d take a good old-fashioned punch up, or taut gun-battle over anything in something like THE A-TEAM, and Hollywood needs to start crafted sharper, smaller-scaled thrillers and action flicks. If not, not only will the action genre continue to suffer, but so will the huge-scaled blockbusters that top the box-office every week, as audiences will get fed-up. Like anything, we need variety.

Extra Tidbit: What's the last great old-school action movie you saw?
Source: JoBlo.com



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