xXX: Revenge of Xander Berkeley

xXx is a film that came out 10 years too late. Bruce Willis would have fucking CRUSHED the role of Xander Cage.

Think about it: what if it xXx was directed by Renny Harlin or John McTiernan. Now those guys understand what action schlock is all about.

I don’t know why xXx sucks so much. Is it the script? The direction? Is it it’s leading actor?

Vin Diesel is proof that just because you look the part, doesn’t mean that you can play the part. Honestly, he is quietly one of the worst action stars I’ve ever seen. And it’s difficult to pinpoint why that is.

Is it because he’s not traditionally “good looking”? There are plenty of action stars that aren’t considered “good looking.”

Is it because he can’t act? To be a Hollywood leading man, having the ability to “act” is surprisingly low on the must-have list.

Is it because he doesn’t have a sense of humor? I think there’s something to this. I mean, Vin Diesel does have a sense of humor, but the joke is always on someone else and never on the absurdity of his character or the situation he’s in.

Being the butt of a joke is for other characters. Not for him.

Some action stars can get away with this. Steven Seagal for example. But the thing is that Seagal lacks the awareness to understand that he is the joke. Diesel is too smart for that.

So in xXx, Diesel comes across as a fucking asshole that I’m constantly rooting against.

Fuck this movie

charles bronson

I love schlocky action films. I will always respect a movie that knows what it is and embraces it.

The John Wick films do a pretty respectable job at that. The scripts are laughably formulaic, a computer could have written them. That’s the way schlock is supposed to be: everything is supposed to be up on screen. I love the juxtaposition between violence and every day life. Even the casting of Keanu Reeves is a stroke of genius: he is an extraordinarily limited actor. When you see him, you know you’re not getting anything deep. He’s just there to kick ass and kill. Respect.

Sure, I talked shit about Keanu before. I don’t think I’m being controversial when I say that I don’t find him compelling usually. Not that he has to be. He’s a pretty boy that’s limited to certain roles.

It’s rare to find a true gritty action star, one that’s not necessarily being tongue in cheek, one that’s not a pretty boy, or trying to overly impress you with their physique.

I suppose Daniel Craig is such an actor. Jason Statham could be another. Maybe Bruce Willis at times.

But the best one was Charles Bronson.

For whatever reasons, I’ve been binging the fuck out his movies. Bronson’s stretch through the 70s was the greatest run of any action star. It’s hard to imagine an actor like him succeeding in modern Hollywood.

Contrary to popular perception, Charles Bronson could act. In fact, I’d say he was much more capable of handling emotionally intense scenes than Clint Eastwood, a contemporary of Bronson and an actor of similar caliber. Just watch Breakout or Mr. Majestyk. This is especially true when he’s playing opposite a female costar, specifically the romantic interest. There’s something about his glare that can carry those scenes.

Was Charles Bronson a good looking man?

Seriously, was he?

I like that ambiguity about him: a sex symbol whose appeal is derived from raw power and everyman looks. Daniel Craig, at least as James Bond, has similar appeal.

But, for me, the biggest appeal was that he wasn’t an actor’s actor. He had a workman approach to his craft. He knew exactly what he was creating. And the days of those actors are long LONG gone.

Unpopular opinion, but Bronson’s collaborations with Michael Winner are some of my least favorite, specifically Chato’s Land and The Mechanic. Winner seems to have overestimated his abilities as a director. (Death Wish III is an undeniable classic though) J. Lee Thompson was better suited to Bronson, specifically 10 to Midnight.

But anyway, Charles Bronson was the GOAT.

Dennis Hopper: GOAT

Phil Spector, Carrie Fisher, Stevie Nicks, and the greatest of all, Dennis Hopper, are all on the Mount Rushmore of cocaine addicts.

In case you forgot, Mr. Hopper was the star in over 104,000 films

Dennis Hopper brought an intensity to his craft that has yet to be matched. In addition to his acting, his talents also extended behind the camera as director of such unforgettable classics like The Last Movie, Colors, Out of the Blue, and Chasers (starring a peak form Tom Berenger).

The 1969 film, Easy Rider, Hopper’s directorial debut, kickstarted the “auteur” fad in Hollywood that extended throughout the 1970’s (which ended in 1983 when, again, three people were killed. And again, RIP). Sadly, the 70s saw Dennis Hopper’s acting career more or less flatline, which was likely due to his aforementioned cocaine addiction (which is unfortunate. The decline of his acting career that is. Not his crippling cocaine addiction).

However, there was a Dennis Hopper renaissance in the 1980s, with the height of his success coming in 1986 as the sadistic Frank Booth in Blue Velvet and the alcoholic Shooter in Hoosiers.

Hopper rode this newfound fame on into the 90s and 2000s, saying ‘yes’ to any script that was handed to him. Who can forget the time he fought Keanu Reeves on top of a train in Speed? Or taught Kevin Costner how to act in a bad movie for Waterworld? Or gave the greatest racist monologue in the history of film (written by Quentin Tarantino) in True Romance?

Dennis Hopper passed away in 2010.

No matter the script (remember, he was in Super Mario Bros.), no matter the personal dramas in his life, Dennis Hopper always gave it his all.

He was an actor’s actor.

He was the GOAT.