Today, the latest Sylvester Stallone action thriller arrives on the big screen. Meanwhile, the latest Arnold Schwarzenegger action thriller opened two weeks ago and is still in theaters.
I’m having ’80s flashbacks, and it ain’t pretty.
Think “Cobra” and “Commando.”
This Hollywood love affair with the 1980s has been building for awhile, of course, as can be seen by the spate of recent remakes of “The Karate Kid,” “Footloose,” “Conan the Barbarian” and “Red Dawn,” among others.
But now we’re seeing “new” ’80s movies. That is, although Schwarzenegger’s “The Last Stand” and Stallone’s “Bullet to the Head” are new, they sure look like these guys’ old ’80s flicks, following the same R-rated, bloody, violent, profane formula, including a moment when someone they care about is killed, making it personal, and topped off with a string of lame one-liners destined to be remembered by no one.
Except that now, of course, both are eligible for AARP benefits.
With regard to the one-liners, none seem likely to catch fire like “I’ll be back.” And that may be a good thing. Lest we forget, Schwarzenegger parlayed that little remark into his personal go-to catchphrase, using the line, or a variation, in no less than 10 of his movies. Actually, let’s make that 11, since he also says, in “The Last Stand,” “I’ll be right back.”
Kind of makes you yearn for “Hasta la vista, baby,” doesn’t it?
But the absence of a hot new catchphrase isn’t for lack of trying.
In his new movie, Schwarzenegger says, “I’m the sheriff” so often that when bullets are really flying I half expected the soundtrack to kick in that old song, “I Shot the Sheriff.”
The trailer for “Bullet to the Head” has Stallone’s hitman offering such bon mots as, “I take out the trash” and “We gonna fight or are you planning on boring me to death?” and “I’m a people person.”
Even some of the younger competition seems to be going for an ’80s action-thriller vibe. Take a look at the trailers for “Parker” with Jason Statham or “Pain & Gain” with Dwayne Johnson.
In the preview for “Parker," Statham plays a crook with “rules”: “I don’t steal from people who can’t afford it and I don’t hurt people that don’t deserve it.”
And in the trailer for “Pain & Gain,” Johnson chides Mark Wahlberg for his robbery plan: “You just can’t kidnap a guy and take his things; that’s so illegal.”
There is a knowing nod to this seeming necessity for arch one-liners in action pictures from no less than Johnson himself. It’s in the trailer for “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” when Channing Tatum says, “Drive it like you stole it,” and Johnson responds, “As you’re good friend — you need a new catchphrase.”
Oh, and Statham and Johnson each have three more action films on this year’s calendar. And it looks like Schwarznegger and Stallone each have a couple more as well — including one in which they co-star, a prison picture titled “The Tomb.” (Thank goodness it’s not a remake of Stallone’s “Tango & Cash.”)
It’s gonna be a busy year for the cinematic subgenre of ’80s style bone-crunching revenge.
If wannabe ’80s movies aren’t enough for you, there are at least four more specific ’80s remakes on the way in the next few months — “Dirty Dancing,” “Short Circuit,” “Evil Dead” and “RoboCop.”
Of course, remakes aren’t exclusive to 1980s reboots. At least six other remakes are also scheduled to play this year: “The Great Gatsby,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” “Man of Steel,” “The Lone Ranger,” “Oldboy” and “Carrie.”
And more than a few sequels are on the way as well — “The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia,” “A Good Day to Die Hard,” “The Last Exorcism, Part II,” “Scary Movie 5,” “Iron Man 3,” “Star Trek Into Darkness,” “The Hangover, Part III,” “The Fast and the Furious 6,” “Monsters University,” “Despicable Me 2,” “Grown Ups 2,” “The Wolverine,” “300: Rise of an Empire,” “Red 2,” “The Smurfs 2,” “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters,” “Insidious, Chapter 2,” “Riddick,” “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2,” “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,” “Paranormal Activity 5,” “Thor: The Dark World,” “The Best Man 2,” “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” “Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas,” “Anchorman: The Legend Continues,” “Jack Ryan” and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”
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And when you factor in how many more upcoming films just look so much like other movies, it really gets ridiculous. Their trailers demonstrate that “Identity Thief” (opening Feb. 6) and “The Heat” (April 5) bear more than a passing resemblance to each other. Melissa McCarthy plays what appears to be the same character in both films, only one’s a crook and one’s a cop. In “Identity Thief,” Jason Bateman takes the uptight straight man role to McCarthy’s aggressive, violent, foul-mouthed slob, while Sandra Bullock takes on those duties for “The Heat.”
And is “Warm Bodies” a remake of “Shaun of the Dead”?
And “Safe Haven” looks like well, every other Nicholas Sparks film.
Anyway, the next time you want to argue that Hollywood has run out of ideas, here’s plenty of evidence to put on the table.