Riddick is back! Somehow.
How did it happen? Why did it happen? Does anyone care? These questions are rhetorical, so don't try to answer them. The only thing to do is take a step back and observe that Vin Diesel's mumbling antihero is returning to the big screen nearly a decade after no one came to see him in The Chronicles of Riddick. Like some kind of bald, muscular phoenix, Riddick has risen from the ashes of "no one giving a crap," ready to give this whole franchise thing another go.
If Riddick can get another shot, then surely other abandoned and forgotten cinematic action heroes deserve another shot. If we live in a world where a third Riddick movie is a thing that can happen, then we want to see the following characters get another chance of their own.
One of the greatest badasses in the history of cinema, the one-eyed mercenary with a heart of coal scowled and killed his way through the classic Escape from New York and the not-so-classic Escape from L.A., maneuvering his way through a borderline postapocalyptic United States with the grace and force of a freight train. Although there have been rumors of a third film -- supposedly titled Escape from Earth -- for well over a decade, the series has sat dead in the water. With a remake of Escape from New York seemingly always in development, it's important to look back at what made this character so iconic in the first place: Kurt Russell. We don't need a young Snake played by some pretty boy. We need one final murder adventure with Classic Plissken. If Riddick can get a third film, why not Snake?
It's tough to find fans of the original two Tomb Raider films with Angelina Jolie, mainly because they're awful. To be fair, it's not like they were based on high art. Although generally well-liked and massively influential, the original Tomb Raider video games have the dramatic weight of a bag of air. At the end of the day, they were all about tricky puzzle solving, thrilling platforming and the heroine's absurd bust. It's no wonder that the movies felt so disposable. However, the game franchise's developer realized that it was time to reboot the character and Hollywood should follow suit. The latest Tomb Raider game resets the character, transforming a superhero into a vulnerable and tough young woman who achieves great feats of heroism because she pushes herself to the limit. Considering the lack of badass female action heroes out there, Lara also deserves a second chance on the big screen in her new incarnation.
Calling Raymond Chandler's noir icon Philip Marlowe an "action hero" may not be entirely accurate, but he's certainly a man of action, so we'll bend the definition a bit. The subject of numerous short stories and novels written from the late 1930s through the 1950s, the tough-but-noble private eye was the subject of classic films like The Big Sleep and Murder, My Sweet. Although still firmly rooting him in the period of his creation, Robert Altman managed to give Marlowe a grand resurrection with 1973's The Long Goodbye, which saw the deliberately old-fashioned character struggling to make a living and survive in the disgusting world of 1970s Hollywood. The character's clash with his surroundings made for a fascinating film 40 years ago, so we can't help but wonder what a modern (but true to the character) Marlowe adventure would look like. How would such a straightforward and tough-talking P.I. get by in our ironic, on-the-verge-of-collapse modern world? Yep, it's time to bring the greatest fiction detective of all time back to the cinema so we can find out.
It may be weird to call for a Jack Reacher resurrection since the character hasn't really been officially declared dead yet, but it needs to be said before it's too late. Despite its poor trailers and middling box office receipts, Christopher McQuarrie's Jack Reacher is one of the best action movies of the past few years, a tough-as-nails thriller made for adults. Tom Cruise may not fit the character as he's described in Lee Child's novels, but he fits the screen version of the character like a glove, oozing experience, intelligence and single-minded determination. Jack Reacher is a quietly terrific character at the center of a quietly terrific movie and in the best possible universe there would be a 10-movie series following his various exploits. Don't let this one die on the vine, Hollywood.
There's no getting around it: the Green Lantern movie was a disaster on every level. It was a creative failure, a box office bomb and a direct slap in the face for a character with a long and storied legacy in the pages of countless comic books. But you know what? They should make another one. Everything that is wrong with Green Lantern stems from the creative choices made behind the scenes, not the character, who remains as cinema ready as any superhero in DC's stable. We're talking about a superhero who is essentially a space cop, whose job is to patrol his section of the universe and keep the innocent safe. We're talking about a superhero who has a ring that lets him create weapons and objects that are only limited by his imagination. This a character with near-unlimited possibilities. It's a shame that his first big-screen outing was so small, ugly and earthbound, but as any comic fan will tell you, the best Green Lantern stories are tales that rival Star Wars and Star Trek in scope and crazy science fiction.
If you mention that one of the best action heroes of the millennium has been Beck, you'd probably get a lot of blank stares. However, mention that Beck is better known as "the Rock in The Rundown" and you'll probably get a lot of approving nods. Beck is barely a character. Rather, he's a vehicle for Dwayne Johnson's seemingly unlimited charm, an excuse for everyone's favorite wrestler turned actor to say funny things while punching bad guys in the face. To date, it's one of the very few action movies that puts Mr. Johnson front and center and lets him do his thing without any apologies. Although the man who was the Rock has a strong career at the moment, we can't help but wish The Rundown had kickstarted an entire series of movies. If there's one man who can power an entire action franchise on charm and physique alone, it's him.
While Steven Seagal continues a disturbing downward spiral into lawsuits and bad reality shows, all his fans can do is look back to the good ol' days, when he used to star in some occasionally pretty good action movies. Although he made some legit gems like Out for Justice and Marked for Death, his most memorable character (and the one who desperately needs a follow-up) was at the center of On Deadly Ground. Forrest Taft is the craziest Seagal character of all time, a battle-hardened security guy at an oil-drilling station in Alaska who is left for dead, spiritually reborn with the help of a Native American dream quest and goes to war on Michael Caine's evil, nature-wrecking natural gas company. When he's not shooting henchmen and teaching racists how to be better men by beating them in bar fights, Taft is explaining the importance of nature and how we should all work hard to save the environment. This is not a good character, but it sure is a memorable character, an action hero so downright bonkers that we're still chomping at the bit to see him return in On Deadlier Ground.
Marion "Cobra" Cobretti
We live in an age where nostalgia for the '80s is at an all-time high. Sylvester Stallone has fought to keep the Reagan-era action hero alive with the Expendables franchise and one final Rambo movie, but there's one character of his who deserves to come back for one last outing: Marion Cobretti -- aka, Cobra -- aka, the cure for crime -- aka, one of the trashiest action heroes of the '80s. Everything about Cobra and its protagonist is a reminder of what was so wonderfully awful and horrifyingly amazing about the decade, with this macho, stone-cold cop killing his way across Los Angeles. The movie, like so many of its ilk, treats his actions as something heroic and justifiable. But what would happen if you transplanted this character to the modern day? How would an '80s action hero this socially broken and merciless function in 2013? We don't expect to see a new Cobra film anytime soon, but it would sure be fascinating to see how this guy would have aged and how he'd function in a time where police violence really isn't that cool anymore.
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