Jason Statham is Man’s Last Hope
This article was originally going to be about how Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t care about human life. Who else could throw an entire machete straight through a man, sticking him to the wall, make a joke at his expense (“Stick avound”), and then continue murdering the rest of his friends? Only Arnold. That’s just how that guy rolls. Watching the old Total Recall and then the ’73 version of The Mechanic after that, a friend and I got to thinking- there are no more Hollywood tough guys.
We’re not the first ones to think of this, sure, but what exactly are the reasons? The choices? Who’s left out there? Who is worthy? It ain’t Ryan Reynolds, that’s for sure. Is it the times? Has the Macho appeal faded? But I’m not just talking about having huge arms and carrying an anti-aircraft gun, I’m just talking about being a good old fashioned tough guy. The question: Where’s a modern day Eastwood or Bronson? The answer? We don’t have one. And I don’t know how to feel about it.
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got plenty of good actors these days. While most of them are getting up there in age (Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson) the ones that are more or less in their prime aren’t really tough guys. They play one occasionally, and can pull it off, but nobody really lives the role like they did back in the day. Tom Hardy dips his feet in the tough guy pool now and then with Dark Knight Rises and Warrior. Gerard Butler had 300 and…well, 300 was really good. So there really is nobody that holds to the tried and true tradition of shooting up an entire room of people, hitting every target (i.e., people), only to finish with a one liner like “You really do need to keep your head on in moments of pressure.” Right before blowing the guy’s head off with a shotgun.
Nobody…but Jason Statham.
Think about it- why is Statham in The Expendables in the first place? For all the old guys shooting their toes off and tattooing each other, Statham is the only current actor that even slightly fits in with them. It ain’t Thor’s little brother and I still don’t get why Terry Crews is a main character. Seriously, I love that guy to death but the dude who made “1,000 Miles” listenable is not mercenary material. In any case, Stallone is saying “Look, I can hang with the younger guys too.” Knowing the tough guy well has long since been dry, he went to Statham; a man who finds a way to get his shirt taken off in roughly 75% of his fights. A man who will still play characters who refuse to use guns because he’s a man of principles…then beat every henchman in the room nearly to death with his fists. A man who you will never see in a movie like Crank one month…followed by a sappy romance written by The Notebook guy just to “balance things out.”
Also, in the remake of Death Race (2008), he is shown to be doing behind the neck pull ups while in prison; a hardcore workout only for the most brutal of prisoners. Why show this in a movie where the main plot and the majority of the action revolves around racing cars on a track?
I was a little disappointed after a while when I stopped seeing Statham in Guy Ritchie movies and the like. I thought he was better than the stupid action movies he kept starring in. But after a while, when that kind of became his “thing,” I started to appreciate the fact that nobody else in Hollywood still does action the way he does. He carries on the tradition of “IN A WORLD…blahblahblah…ONE MAN WILL FIGHT INJUSTICE…” That whole thing. How can you not just want to watch a movie sometimes where you just don’t need to think? I’m not talking about one that pretends to be smart, and get you caught up in details that don’t matter when they’re ultimately just a Matt Damon movie, I’m talking about Jason Statham showing up and being the Michael Bay of actors. He doesn’t pretend to be more than he is, he just found his niche, and he sticks with it.
And this guy comes out with so many movies, it’s hard to keep up with. Some are marketed well, others just pop up randomly and disappear just as quickly. Last year’s Blitz, this year’s Safe. I’m not pretending his movies are any better than they are. But the fact that he knows that and still keeps doing them is something to admire.
So while we may never have another McQueen or Van Cleef, we can rest assured knowing that Statham always has our back. He’ll never appear in a drama about losing a loved one or show up crying in a romantic comedy about how ka-razy everything gets when you have sex with a platonic friend (Although that premise is pretty wacky to me! Better make two in a couple month time period). He’s just Statham and will forever be the man who never fails to use his fists instead of his heart. Which is probably made out of the coldest metal that pumps the hottest oil that surges through his veins made out of turpentine. The end.