Thursday, August 14, 2014

Riske Business: Talking Action with Mark and Patrick

by Adam Riske
The Expendables, punchable faces and Ben Foster as He-Man. This one has it all.

Adam: Sup, fellas. I’ve mentioned before that I’m bummed about the state of the modern action movie. We don’t get those great action star vehicles like we used to in the past. With that in mind, I wanted to try out some fake casting scenarios to uncover modern day actors who we think would make good action movie heroes and villains.

I’ll start out. If Die Hard were made today, I would want Hans Gruber to be played by Michael Fassbender. I think Miles Teller could be the next Bruce Willis – he’s funny, he’s a smartass, he just needs to bulk up. And as for that misbegotten Point Break remake, I want Chris Hemsworth to play Bodhi instead of Edgar Ramirez.

Mark, if you had to pick someone to play He-Man in a new Masters of the Universe, who would you cast? Please don’t say Gerard Butler.
Mark: I can’t get over how Miles Teller reminds me so much of John Cusack, and I don’t think it’s just physical (I obviously mean MENTAL). He has a similar nervous energy which spills over into humor, but Teller plays it crasser. He’s not a bad pick though.

Adam: Yeah, it absolutely is an inspired choice. Good job, me.

Patrick: I haven’t seen enough Miles Teller movies. In fact, I think I’ve only seen him in The Spectacular Now, in which he was very good. But while he has the smugness of Bruce Willis, Teller has a face that I can describe as very…punchable. Bruce Willis didn’t have that. If you punched Bruce Willis in the face, you were getting laid the fuck out. My man Bruno was a bouncer.

Adam: Bruno hates entertainment reporters.

Mark: I might go with Jake Johnson as the new Bruce -- after he hits the weights. Modern day He-Man would be Ben Foster. He’s not super bulky, but I’ve liked the tough guy parts he’s played and I generally enjoy all of his performances. And just to get it out of the way, She-Ra is Amber Heard.
Adam: I think I just went through a second puberty. I’m not even the biggest Amber Heard fan, but Amber Heard as She-Ra just made me an Amber Heard fan. She’s my Gemma Arterton of 2014.

Mark: Who would you cast for the part of Blade?

Adam: I would cast Anthony Mackie. I’ve felt for a long time that Mackie is an underrated actor and I think he has the edge to play Blade and is still appealing enough where an audience would want to root for him.

Mark: I hate that I didn’t think of Anthony Mackie. I would love to see more of him in anything.

Adam: It’s a great pick. Good job, me.
Patrick: I like the idea of Mackie as Blade, but I almost feel like he comes across as too nice a guy. This is probably because I'm just recasting Wesley Snipes’ performance and not thinking of reinventing the character. I would possibly cast Michael Jai White as Blade, because that dude kicks ass.

Adam: Who would you cast in the Harrison Ford role in The Fugitive?

Mark: How about James Franco for Dr. Richard Kimble? I’d like for him to do something a little more dramatic, but not sure if people could get over his comedic persona. Also Michael B. Jordan, because casting that particular character as African-American lends a potentially interesting narrative aspect to his persecution. Although he might be a little too young to play a doctor.

Adam: I can’t believe you think Michael B. Jordan is too young to play a doctor. It shows that you have not seen the cinema classic That Awkward Moment. It’s a bona fide movie. It played in theaters and everything. I saw that shit opening day after getting an oil change. Like a boss.

I could buy 2004 James Franco more as Richard Kimble than 2014 James Franco. He's become too tongue-in-cheek as a performer for him to play that part straight. I’d worry it would feel similar to Wrongfully Accused.

Patrick: I have a hard time accepting James Franco in anything that isn’t intentional self-parody. I would never be able to take him seriously as Dr. Richard Kimble. What about, like, Josh Gad? It adds a new dimension. He could be Chubby Fugitive. "He's hungry...for justice! And cake."

Adam: I have a hard time accepting Josh Gad as a man that's not a snowman.

Who would you say are your favorite current action stars of people not in The Expendables?  If you could play Doc Hollywood with their careers, what would you suggest for them?

Patrick: Are there action stars NOT in The Expendables movies? They even took/wasted Scott Adkins.
I think Gina Carano could be genuinely great given the right part to play. I think she needs to work on some performance aspects and be choosy about roles, but I love how tough and physical she is while being very, very pretty. She's one of the few action stars that make it look like it HURTS when she punches someone. And of COURSE this is just me dreaming about my perfect movie, but she ought to do a buddy movie with my girlfriend Zoë Bell. MGZB has enough charm and personality that she could carry the duo, acting-wise, while Carano could be the strong silent type.

Basically I'm suggesting they make Lady Red Heat.

I want to see whatever Iko Uwais does next, too. I don't necessarily want to see him come to Hollywood, because I don't think they will know what to do with him. Let him keep making movies with Gareth Evans. Like, forever.

I want Jason Momoa to make a really good action movie. And I want Jason Statham to make better action movies.

Mark: My wallet fell to the ground when you said Lady Red Heat.

Adam: It is a great title.

Back in 2009 when I saw Inglorious Basterds (like everyone else) I had a thought (unlike everyone else) that the movie basically gave the world a stock company of actors that could be villains in action movies - Waltz, Fassbender, Bruhl, Dietz, etc. Who are some guys that you would love to see as villains in an action movie such as Olympus Has Fallen 2?

Patrick: My inclination is to cast a villain against type. And not, like, Bradley Cooper or Justin Bartha (they both have punchable faces). More like Richard Jenkins, a man I would have a hard time punching even if I came home and found him stealing all of my stuff and eating all of my snacks. Or maybe Jon Hamm. Let's use his powers of charm and handsomeness for evil.

Adam: I think Robert Downey Jr. should play more villains. PUNCHABLE FACE.

Mark: If we're talking about punchable faces, then Josh Gad ranks fairly high, right behind Clark Duke, though.

Now that I've thought of Clark Duke, I'm having a hard time thinking of non-punchable faces. Tom Hardy? Chris Pine? Not that either of them would take a villain role, but they're both engaging and even if I tried punching them, they'd punch right back. And then we'd have tea.

Patrick: Chris Pine is part of what I refer to as CHRISCUBED, which also includes Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans. Those three should make every movie together. Maybe not. MY PANTS CAN'T TAKE IT.

Mark: I said adios to my pants way back at LADY RED HEAT. Been sitting like that ever since.

Adam: On the whole, going into The Expendables 3, how do you size up the franchise? Is it a missed opportunity? Do you appreciate it more now than you used to? I enjoy The Expendables franchise as an idea more than in practice, but not for the reason that I think most people do. I have a fondness for it because it's a little sad. These older guys are desperately hanging onto what worked for them in the past and hoping to get love and admiration back in return for a second time. It's like Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler. I find it hard to pick on such an in-your-face display of desperation.

Mark: I find it hard to see The Expendables as a franchise, because there's no cohesive thread for all of it, aside from who the new people are for each installment. I don't mind watching it, but like most nostalgia projects, it's not particularly well-thought out beyond "let's see these guys on screen together." Why not give them something to do while they're on screen?

But, putting that aside, I sort of love that I got to see Jean Claude Van Damme on the big screen again, so there still is value to these movies. I mean, I'll happily watch part of it if it was on TV.
Patrick: My love of #HeavyAction means I'll keep coming back for these Expendables movies, but they are absolutely a missed opportunity. The movie I saw in my head when the title, cast and concept for the first film was announced is SO MUCH BETTER than the one that got made. I knew I was fucked when I saw the first trailer and people were wearing those dumb berets. That's not the cool-mercenary-movie-with-great-action-stars I was picturing.

We've talked about it before, but almost anything that's interesting about these movies is gone once they announce the cast. It has become a game of "Well, who did they get this time?" But maybe that's because they have yet to write a good script or make a really satisfying movie. Maybe this new one will break the curse. It seems like they're doing too much of an Expendables: Next Generation thing for my taste, but I'm basing that solely on trailers.

The whole thing just seems too self-satisfied. I want this group of actors to be HUNGRY to be kick ass and be awesome on screen again instead of standing around laughing and posing and being all "ISN'T IT GREAT THAT WE'RE IN THIS MOVIE TOGETHER?" instead of earning it and reminding us why they were awesome in the first place. Again, as a fan, I don't really need to be reminded. I'm in the bag for [most of] these guys.

Mark: Short list of female action stars?

Patrick: All the names you normally hear thrown around for female action stars are the same ones I come up with: MGFZB, Gina Carano, Katee Sackhoff, Zoe Saldana. Maggie Q should do more stuff. Jamie Alexander is pretty good in those Thor movies. She needs to do more. I would love to see some outside-the-box casting (Bridget Fonda in Point of No Return), but Hollywood doesn't have that good an imagination. Apparently I don't either.

Adam: I used to not appreciate female driven action movies when I was younger, but I think it was me being sexist more than anything. As I've gotten older, I feel that I am responding more positively to it. I would love to see Emily “always mid-push up” Blunt be a badass (à la Geena Davis) in another movie as she was great in Looper or especially Edge of Tomorrow. I think Scarlett Johansson is becoming (in)credible in action roles too.
Mark: What's your favorite/least favorite action movie cliché?

Patrick: I'm kind of over the hero making a joke after killing someone. I know Arnold Schwarzenegger basically invented that trope in the '80s and it was GLORIOUS because those movies were all about ridiculous excess, but I'm not sure that works anymore. Or maybe it's just that the jokes aren't funny. Every time they do one in the Expendables series, I cringe. Stallone ruins THE BEST MOMENT EVER in The Expendables 2 by stroking "Rest in pieces!" The movie immediately goes from the best to the worst.

Also, no more main bad guys falling from high places.

Adam: My favorite action cliché is the guy who can take all sorts of abuse even past the point of realism because "fuck you guys." I love that brand of hero. My least favorite action cliché is shaky cam as a way of expressing chaotic action or a "you are there" approach.

Patrick: Oh, right. Shaky cam. Ugh. Fuck shaky cam.


  1. Hows about Idris elba as the fugitive?

    Best movie cliche. Or should I say line for me is and I know you know the movie
    Remember when I said ide kill you last. I Lied

    And the worse shaky cam is when you see it at the imax. Jesus. Captain Philips actually had multiple cases people puking and feeling sea sick due to the camera style. Not good making your paying audience throw up

    1. Idris Elba in a FUGITIVE remake would be great. I've always worried that he's one terrible role away from getting put in movie jail. I would especially love to see him as ... James Bond.

    2. Poor Idris Elba, he should be in everything, and yet outside of his television roles he's really been in nothing. James Bond... Green Lantern... Black Panther... Marian Manhunter. Whatever role he may work in someone is bound to suggest it

      A Long Walk to Freedom was pretty forgettable, and what else has he been in? Ghost Rider, Thor, The Losers, Obsessed, Takes, and The Unborn. He's been in some "okay" supporting roles in American Gangster, Pacific Rim, and the slightly underrated 28 Weeks Later, but nothing that makes we wanna jump off my couch and cheer for him.

      Compare that to his phenomenal work on television as Stringer Bell and John Luther. Two of the more compelling characters you'll ever witness.

      Too bad he seems to be just making more generic movies; I have small hopes for No Good Deed, but only because the director worked on Luther. Other than that, he's not doing Jurassic World, nor anything else of note.

      What has Mr. Elba done to be mired in such mediocrity? I know he chooses his roles carefully, but clearly there has to be something better for him to do than play a drunk priest in Ghost Rider or a sober priest in The Unborn.

    3. I sort of suspect he's being used as younger Morgan Freeman, like an instant shorthand for gravitas, rather than being seen for what he can really do. Maybe it'll take the right director, like you were saying, to help him break out.

    4. Im glad its not just me. Idris for me a fantastic actor. I think he could just be a slow burner. He is yet to make a film that hopefully that will blow us all away. The talent is there. Watch this space.

    5. Idris Elba is a good choice for Richard Kimble. Nice call. I think he just needs to find a role with the right director and he'd be on more solid footing. E.G. I heard he was up for Django Unchained as Django and that would have been the right role for launching his career to another level although Jamie Foxx was very good in that movie so I don't regret his casting.

  2. Best face for punching. Bruce campbell. He actually likes it. His chin is made for the job. you could break your knuckles on it though. Be carefull

  3. Punchable villain: Paul Dano
    John McClane: Channing Tatum
    +1 for Blunt, Saldana, and Sackhoff

    1. Channing Tatum is the first name that came to me for a modern day John McClane, too. For some reason, Dwayne Johnson also popped into my head as another choice, but I'm not sure about that one.

    2. Paul Dano has the most punchable of faces, although I'd be sad about punching it so much.


    3. Channing Tatum already starred in Die Hard. It was called White House Down. And, not incidentally, one of its villains? (SPOILER ALERT) Richard Jenkins.

    4. Matt - you beat me to my post so I will reiterate - Channing Tatum already played Bruce in a movie - it was called "White House Down." Patrick and I totally disagree on this film but as I mentioned in a previous post, I completely believe that Emmerich was intentionally remaking/ripping off Die Hard (there are too many obvious references to ignore, both visually and within the storyline) and as I noticed this, it made me absolutely love it.

      "But while he has the smugness of Bruce Willis, Teller has a face that I can describe as very…punchable. Bruce Willis didn’t have that. If you punched Bruce Willis in the face, you were getting laid the fuck out. My man Bruno was a bouncer."

      Brilliant! Completely agree. If anyone were to replace Bruce it would have to be me; just saying, I know "Die Hard" inside and out and although my face is kind-of doughy, my hairline is receding ever so slight!y; McClane style. Or, maybe JGL since he killed it playing Bruce in "Looper."

    5. I think JGL needs to bulk up to take on more action roles. He looks like a boy more than a man to me. I would love to see a remake of White House Down where they take it seriously. It could have been a great action movie.

  4. I totally want to see Emily Blunt and Scarlett Johansson in more action roles. Lucy had problems, but Scarlett Johansson: action star was certainly not one of them, if you ask me. I LOVED the scene where she beats up all of her captors and escapes toward the beginning. She kicked ass and it was awesome.

  5. I agree. Hows about Emily blunt as the us marshal and Idris elba as the fugitive.

    That fugitive would be totally different movie

  6. Me too.

    F this movie. The people to come to for better casting ideas for your movies.

    Should we patent that as our intellectual property? If that movie gets made i thought of it first and were gonna sue. Half of all my profits will go to the F this movie crew.
    Its now written in stone and copyrighted ;)

  7. Thanks for creating a safe place for folks to say "fuck shaky cam". I was reminded of Stallone in "The Expendables 1" making-of featurette yelling at the camera operator to "shake that camera!" during the filming of the climax. That's a director!

  8. It might no longer be her time, but the underutilized Aisha Tyler would make a great action hero.