Shea Serrano is a paid Grantland writer.
Let that float around your head for a minute, as you read the drivel he actually got paid to write. It actually starts with a fairly good thesis: if Terminator Genisys hadn't flopped, Schwarzenegger’s career could be revitalized and we could get a chance to see him in quality movies again. Okay, decent enough premise, and it would be nice to see him do well, though Serrano is interested in him doing action movies, which is a bit of a stretch.
We get Junior 2, and people are disappointed that it’s not a Reckoning and they’re also disappointed that he even made it. But guess what? This one doesn’t suck like the first one did. He’s pregnant again, yeah. But it’s twins this time
It turns out that Bennett’s wife was also pregnant with twins when that happened. And guess what? Those twins are super pissed that Arnold put a pipe through their dad’s chest and they want revenge. THAT’S A SURPRISE FRANCHISE CROSSOVER ON SOME MARVEL AVENGERS SHIT, my dude. The big fight at the end of the movie starts when the Bennett twins are getting into a car to drive back to their bad-guy compound with their younger brother, Baby Bennett, whom they’re also training to be a villain. Baby Bennett says, “I got shotgun,” and right then, just as he’s opening the door, he takes a shotgun blast to the chest. The camera pans over. We see the Arnold Twins standing there. They’re both holding shotguns. “No,” they say in unison, and they cock their guns in unison, too. “We’ve got shotguns.”Serrano is paid to write that. Again, let that thought just percolate in your head for a while, then please -- please -- read on.
After getting excited about a sequel to Junior, and no that's not a typo, but after getting excited about a sequel to Junior, Serrano moves to the next stage of his thesis, which is again a fairly good one.
The movie is such a blockbuster hit that the pendulum finally swings back and we get a rush of action movies like in the late ’80s and early ’90s, where the stars were untouchably cool and not gloomy, despondent sad boys.He's right, of course. It would be nice to see directors and writers make nice little well-paced action movies centred around a solid if somewhat unrealistic or unreasonable premise. What was the plot to the original Terminator? A wounded soldier has to save a pretty young girl from an advanced futuristic killing robot. That's it, that's all. Is it likely that an advanced killing robot from the future would come to kill Sarah Connor and that the robot's opponents in the future would learn of this, commandeer the time machine, send one of their lieutenants back to protect her, and then destroy the time machine so that it couldn't happen again? Nope. It's also highly unlikely that a disgraced former Delta Force operative, recently hired by a South American dictator to lead a military coup, would randomly decide to use the resources at his disposal to murder his former coworkers and then kidnap the daughter of another former coworker in order to get his help to commit assassinations in support of the coup. Bennett is an experienced special forces operative with a team of mercenaries at his disposal, and wasting time and resources recruiting Matrix makes absolutely no sense. But it's entertaining, and so we watch. We don't need a deep plot, we don't need the premise to be entirely realistic, and we don't need to see the deep broken relationship between Matrix and his family that causes him to sit on a rooftop and grumble about things. Bad guy kidnapped Alyssa Milano, go to his secret island with an RPG and murder the shit out of every single henchmen he has.
Modern action movies just don't have the same sort of stuff. Redlettermedia's Half in the Bag covered this pretty well in their review of A Good Day to Die Hard, where they contrasted the movie with the original. John McClaine went from being a schluby everyman with a failed marriage and a career on hold to "Die Hard Man" who throws cars at helicopters and jumps off the wings of airplanes and lands safely 200 feet later after bouncing off several slabs of concrete. Mike and Jay, in case you were wondering, don't get paid by a major media company to publish episodes of Half in the Bag, they only are paid from how they can monetize their content.
Shea Serrano does get paid, and inexplicably gets paid to talk about shitty quarter-century-late sequels to previous movies. Not films in the style of or in the Tango and Cash vein...no no, Tango and Cash 2, straight up.
All our heroes are back. We get Demolition Man 2. We get Cobra 2. We get Tango & Cash 2. We get Hard to Kill 2. We get a Bloodsport reboot WITH JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME THIS TIME, OK.Serrano does eventually start thinking about new actors becomiong action stars using the 80s-style formula, and comes up with a few fake names for his future stars.
There’s Rodney Hammer, who stars in the new franchise Death Master, which is about a mortician who’s a former Black Ops commander who accidentally finds himself in the middle of a war between a criminal syndicate and an overmatched police force in a small town. There’s Brock Thompson, star of the controversial Adopted Warrior, which is about a white kid who gets adopted by an Asian family and learns “all of the secrets of the Orient,” as the movie poster suggests. It absorbs (not unfair) claims of racism, but it scores a $420 million opening weekend, so they just keep cranking them out.Again, we've almost gotten ourselves tangled up in a real interesting subject for a column: if Terminator Genisys could have been an inspiration to make action movies for a new generation, think about the sort of basic premises that you could frame your movie around. Serrano's premises are no crazier than Predator, and definitely less crazy than Running Man. The magic of those 80s action movies, as we've discussed, is the action and the pacing and the writing, not the intricacies of the hyper-realistic world in which they're set.
Nobody knows El Cucuy’s real name or what he looks like — they only know that anyone who has ever bucked back against him and his oppression has been found dead shortly thereafter, often dismembered and always displayed publicly. The movie ends in a confrontation between Muerte and El Cucuy, and the fight is big and bloody and ultraviolent. Nobody can remember ever seeing anything as overwhelming, moving, or transcendent as that fight. It’s perfectly shot and brilliantly lit. For all of the movement, for all of the fire and explosions and devastation, El Cucuy manages to keep his face in the shadows. It’s like a magic trick. It’s like he has no face at all.It's like Serrano's editor read that, figured it was a column winding down, and said "good enough, send the boy his weekly paycheque!"