The Commerce Journal

March 30, 2012

Dusting off the 80s action blockbuster classics

Caleb Slinkard
The Commerce Journal

COMMERCE — When I was growing up, my parents always made sure I was outside playing instead of watching T.V. They would occasionally While this certainly improved my baseball swing, it also means that I missed out on a ton of early to mid-90s movies that most of my friends and co-workers have seen. Over the past four years, I’ve taken it upon myself to try and expand the number of movies I’ve seen, and now I’m getting around to the over-the-top, late 80s early 90s blockbuster actions movies that are now a Sunday afternoon movie staple.

I have learned one thing. I love those movies.

Last week I saw Con Air for the first time, and that movie is simply fantastic. The only Nicholas Cage I knew was the blithering idiot of movies like “Season of the Witch,” not the long-haired, ripped superhero he was in Con Air. At one point in the movie, he looks at another character, who has just asked him what he was planning to do, and says “I’m going to go save the day.” What a line. People don’t write scripts like that anymore.

Last Sunday, I sat down to watch “Lethal Weapon” for the first time. While it wasn’t the same level as “Con Air,” watching an insane Mel Gibson take on an ex-CIA heroin ring with nothing other than his 9 mil. and an aging Danny Glover was exactly how I wanted to spend my Sunday afternoon. My favorite part of “Lethal Weapon” by far was when Gibson decided to battle Gary Busey in a psuedo cage match for absolutely no reason other than to prove his physical superiority. Its little plot luxeries like this fist fight that make movies like “Lethal Weapon” true classics. Apparently, Warner Bros. wants to remake “Lethal Weapon” without Gibson or Glover. I’m not interested at all.

The compelling thing to me is that many of the cliches that characterize these movies when used in modern movies are boring and cheesy. Most modern action blockbusters are little more than eye candy and, with advances in special effects and 3D technology, have grown from the ridiculous to the laughable. Yet very similar films shot 20 to 25 years ago are widely considered classics. Today, modern action movies have become increasingly complicated, especially when it comes to plots. I enjoy the days when the bad guys were bad simply because they looked bad, the good guy always saved the day and cars exploded when they ran into each other.

What are your thoughts? Do you enjoy over-the-top 80s and 90s action thrillers, or do you find yourself changing the channel when they come on? Email me at with your comments and I’ll include them in my next column.