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7 Action Stars of Tomorrow

November 9th 2008 13:52

I read a story recently about the lack of 'manly' action stars coming out of America these days, and the need for producers to look abroad, to England and Australia.

There was once the classic tough guys in John Wayne, Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson, followed by the brute force of Sly Stallone, Chuck Norris and Arnold Schwarzenegger (well, he may as well be American), and then the brain and brawn of Harrison Ford, Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis and Nicholas Cage.

Now, there are what the writer calls 'boy-men' portraying some of the most popular heroes of today, the young - Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man), Edward Norton, (Hulk), Brandan Routh (Superman) and Matt Damon (Bourne Identity) - and the old - Keanu Reeves (The Matrix), Tom Cruise (Mission: Impossible) and Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean).

There are others who have dabbled in the genre and had some success, namely Will Smith (I Am Legend, Hancock), and those who haven't, namely Ben Affleck (Daredevil, The Sum of All Fears), while the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio (Blood Diamond, The Departed) show promise, but is hardly an imposing presence - just yet anyway.

There's also been great hopes Vin Diesel (XXX, Fast and the Furious) and The Rock (Welcome to the Jungle), or should I say Dwayne Johnson, in that more traditional big strong Arnie-Stallone mould, but at the end of the day the buffed-up pair haven't had too much success.

Instead, Hollywood has been importing, starting with Mel Gibson (Lethal Weapon), followed by Russell Crowe (Gladiator) and Hugh Jackman (X-Men) via Australia, and Colin Farrell (SWAT), Christian Bale (Batman) and co, from the UK. They are more your good old fashioned man's man.

Anyway, this article got me thinking ... Who will be the action stars of tomorrow? And, to a lesser extent, where will they come from?

We find some established, and some about to breakthrough ... and some even from the US.

7. Channing Tatum
Age: 28
Nationality: American

New kid on the block, with the All-American look. Appears set to take up the young up and coming action mantle Josh Hartnett and Paul Walker refused. Is a black belt in kung fu.

Channing Tatum in G.I. Joe
Channing Tatum in GI Joe
Got first taste of the action ... 'banging' away in the film clip for Ricky Martin's She Bangs. Got to start somewhere.

Learnt from the action master ... Tom Cruise (of course) in War of the Worlds (2005) starring as 'Boy in Church'.

Stepped up ... in Step Up (2006) as a troubled youth, who fights for his rights ... and his love of dancing, and then again in Step Up 2: The Streets (2008)

Got into war mode ... for Stop Loss (2008) playing a young sargeant in what was described as The Deer Hunter for the Iraqi war.

Big break coming up ... in the big-budget live-action adaptation of that '80 toy series G.I. Joe in Rise of the Cobra (2009) as young hero Duke.

Also coming up ...
Public Enemies (2009) as legendary gangster of the 1930s, Pretty Boy Floyd, opposite Johnny Depp and Christian Bale.
Pinkville (2009) with Bruce Willis about the investigation of a real-life massacre that saw hundreds of Vietnamese civilians killed by US soldiers in the early '70s.
Fighting (2009), which is pretty self-explanatory - he plays an underground street fighter.

6. Thomas Jane
Age: 39
Nationality: American

Under-rated (and will probably continue to be) actor who has had to play his share of love interest roles over the years, but when in top form can match it with the best bad guys. Becoming more your B-Grade guy.

Thomas Jane in The Punisher
Got first taste of the action ... in Boogie Nights (1997), and it was the gun-type of action, not the other.

Avoided being eaten ... by intelligent killer sharks in Deep Blue Sea (1999) and parasitic aliens in Stephen King's Dreamcatcher (2003).

Copped it sweet ... in Stander (2003), in which he played a real-life South African cop turned bank robber of the 1980s.

Hit the big time ... in The Punisher (2004), beefing up for the title character, out to take revenge on John Travolta.

Got all misty-eyed ... in The Mist (2007), another Stephen King adaptation about creatures invading a small town.

Coming up ...
The Mutant Chronicles (2008) in which he plays Major 'Mitch' Hunter who battles mutants in the 23rd century. Based on an old board game.
Give 'em Hell, Malone (2009) playing a 'tough-as-nails' private investigator who runs into some gangsters
Run (2009), an action-thriller from director John 'Die Hard' McTiernan, as an Interpol agent who unearths a vast conspiracy while on assignment in Argentina.

5. Mark Wahlberg
Age 36
Nationality: American

Has done well to restore credibility lost during his Funky Bunch days, showing he can act (sometimes), and kick some serious ass. Subtle but effective, quiet and unassuming

Mark Wahlberg in Max Payne
Got first taste of the action ... while gettin' funky as rapper and male model Marky Mark.

Got even more action ... in Boogie Nights (1997) as porn prince Dirk Diggler, with Burt Reynolds.

Finally turned to the other action ... as the lead in The Big Hit (1998), before going off to the Gulf War in Three Kings (1999), supporting George Clooney, and battling mother nature in The Perfect Storm (2000), again supporting George Clooney.

Monkeyed around ... in Planet of the Apes (2001) as an astronaut stranded on a strange planet.

Hit the big time ... in The Italian Job (2003) as a career criminal called Charlie Croker, played by Michael Caine in the original 1967 version.

Coming up ...
Max Payne (2008) as the gun-tottin' title character, a cop out for revenge in a dark underworld after the murder of his family and partner.
The Fighter (2009), teaming up with Brad Pitt, by playing a real-life boxer called Mickey 'Irish Thunder' Ward.
The Brazilian Job (2010), this time taking his crew down to South American for a dangerous heist.

4. Jason Statham
Age: 34
Nationality: English

Doesn't have great acting range does this former diver, but he is certainly entertaining, whether he's driving cars really fast or knocking someone out.

Jason Statham in Transporter
Got first taste of the action ... in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) as wheeler and dealer 'Bacon', before Snatch (2000) as wheeler and dealer 'Turkish'.

Played almost the same bad ass ... in The Transporter (2002) and the thrill ride that was Crank (2006) ... and in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Knight's Tale (2006), despite the film being set in medieval times.

Hit the big time ... in The Italian Job (2003), opposite Mark Wahlberg and Edward Norton, as getaway driver 'Handsome Rob'.

Played a bad guy bad ass ... in Cellular (2004) as a kidnapper of Kim Basinger, opposite Paul Walker.

Coming up ...
A host of sequels to cult hits, Transporter 3 (2009) and Crank 2 (2009), and a big studio picture, The Brazilian Job (2010).
The Expendables (2010), about a group of mercenaries, with former Hollywood action king Sylvester Stallone and old sparring partner Jet Li, who he starred with in War (2007) and The One (2001).

3. Gerard Butler
Age: 39
Nationality: Scottish

Has dabbled in a bit of everything over the years - horror, comedy, romance - but this was 'madness!'. Action is where he belongs

Gerard Butler in 300
Got first taste of the action ... in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), starring Pierce Brosnan, in a minor role as 'Leading Seaman'.

Really sucked ... but drew much blood in Dracula 2000 (2000, of course) as the Count himself.

Got all rugged and grew a beard... while battling dragons in Reign of Fire (2002) with Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey; and going back in history, not to mention wielding a sword for the first time, in Timeline (2003).

Fought in and out of the sack ... with Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft Tomb Raider (2003) as her male love interest.

Big break came ... in 300 (2006) where he killed many a Persian wearing next to nothing as King Leonidas.

Coming up ...
Game (2009) as the star player of a kills and thrills reality game show set in the future, Running Man-style.
Law Abiding Citizen (2009) as an everyday Joe who takes the law into his owns hands after his family is killed, Death Wish-style.
The Untouchables: Capone Rising as cop Jimmy Malone who tries to bring down a young Al Capone ... um, well, Untouchables-style.

2. Sam Worthington
Age: 32
Nationality: Australian

Been on the big and small screen in Australia for the best part of 10 years, showing great promise, but is about to take Hollywood by storm.

Sam Worthington in Macbeth
Got first taste of the action ... in an episode of JAG (2000), and then cop show Water Rats (2000).

Stomped around ... and then fell to an unfortunate death in Bootmen (2000)

Had the lead ... in home-grown shoot'em up actioners Dirty Deeds (2002), with Bryan Brown, and Gettin' Square (2003), with David Wenham.

Took on ... the writings of William Shakespeare in a modern day telling of MacBeth (2006) - with guns; and a bloody big crocodile in Rogue (2007), supporting Radha Mitchell.

Big break coming up ... playing the lead, an ex-marine, in the sci-fi epic Avatar (2009), from Titanic director James Cameron.

Also coming up ...
Terminator Salvation (2009), the fourth installment of the series, playing what could be a Terminator, alongside Christian Bale's John Connor.
Clash of the Titans (2010), a remake of the 1981 original from Incredible Hulk director Louis Leterier, playing (rumoured) the hero Perseus, who cuts off Medusa's head and kills the Kraken.

1. Christian Bale
Age: 34
Nationality: English

It seems like this guy has been around forever, but he's really only just warming up. Does whatever it takes to make his character a hit in whatever genre.

Bale in The Dark Knight
Christian Bale in The Dark Knight
Got first taste of the action ... in Steven Spielberg's epic World War II drama Empire of the Sun (1987) as a 13-year-old POW.

Knocked 'em dead ... in American Psycho (2000) as a deranged yuppie serial killer.

Warmed up for things to come ... by helping Matthew McConaughey slay some dragons in Reign of Fire (2002); and kicking some ass in the under-rated futuristic actioner Equilibrium (2002).

Fought the bulge ... and won, as a really, really skinny guy in The Machinest (2004).

Big break came ... in Batman Begins (2005) by portraying a young Caped Crusader, and then as a touch older one in The Dark Knight (2008).

Coming up ...
Terminator Salvation (2009) as the iconic leader of a futuristic resistance who battles machines, John Connor - finally all grown up.
Public Enemies (2009) as the FBI agent trying to bring down gangsters John Dillinger, played by Johnny Depp, and Pretty Boy Floyd, played by Channing Tatum.

Honorable mentions:

Daniel Craig (James Bond);
Gabriel Macht (The Spirit)
Chris Pine (Star Trek)

Anyone else?

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7 Comments. [ Add A Comment ]

Comment by James Rickard

November 9th 2008 15:06
GREAT post! Believe it or not, I was discussing this VERY thing with someone a couple of weeks ago! Caprio MAY make it. I had a hard time buying him for a while but he's seemed to move up and beyond with Blood Diamond. I though of Mark Wahlberg but he's a little on the short side but, then again. so was Bogie. It's a shame to have to live up to the Duke! Thought provoking post!

Comment by Movie Mall

November 10th 2008 10:19
Hey James, thanks for reading mate. Great minds think alike hehe
It's an interesting one ... there's been some solid young actors coming out of the States, like Hartnett and Ryan Gosling, but not confining themselves to action, which isn't a bad thing.
Leo's slowly but surely growing up, and could have a real impact. Maybe even as Captain America? He'd bring some quality to what is a risky proposition for a movie.

Comment by Cibbuano

November 10th 2008 21:30
Good stuff... I'm not sure I dig many of these stars. I wish they had more character like the Eastwoods, the McQueens and the John Waynes...

Comment by Morgan Bell

November 12th 2008 17:43
i like Mark Wahlberg and Channing Tatum, even though they have a really limited range, they just seem like big dumb good-guys!

whatever happened to Steven Seagal and Van Damme? haha

Comment by Movie Mall

November 15th 2008 02:33
Hi Cibby, yeah, you're right, they do lack character these days. Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnston does have some, but really hasn't been in anything worth watching, and maybe never will. I like Stratham for entertainment value, in small doses, and Bale is good in that intense sort of way. I'm watching Worthington with interest, purely 'cause he's an Aussie .... oi.

Comment by Movie Mall

November 15th 2008 02:45
Hi Morgan, haven't seen much of Tatum, but as a former male model 'slash' dancer, he definitely looks to be following Wahlberg's lead. I don't mind Marky Mark though, was great in The Departed.

I think Jean-Claude has a new movie coming out in which he takes the absolute piss out of himself. I'll have to look it up.

Speaking of dancing, if you havn't seen it, check out 'JCVD' in action during a South American TV show on youtube. What a nob.

Comment by Disposed

June 8th 2009 15:27

Goddam ERROR!

Christian Bale is WELSH!

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