Big week for Tom Cruise. Divorce papers, 50th birthday – and the first trailer for his next film, Jack Reacher. And if you can forget about the divorce for a moment (just a moment, I promise), it's the last two that I want to discuss. A lot of people, including me, have scoffed at the idea of Cruise (5'7") playing Reacher, who in Lee Child's novels is 6'5", "dirty blonde" and weighs over 210lbs. But Cruise does share one stat with his character, or near enough: Reacher was born in 1960, Cruise two years later. Why are all our biggest action stars so old?
Liam Neeson, 60, is about to appear in the sequel to his hit B-movie Taken; Denzel Washington, 57, can still kick box office ass with the likes of Safe House; and the cast of the The Expendables 2, out next month, features Sylvester Stallone (65), Bruce Willis (57), Arnold Schwarzenegger (64), Jean-Claude Van Damme (51) and Dolph Lundgren (54). Even Jason Statham is 44. Daniel Craig and Jeremy Renner, star of the new Bourne instalment, are both in their forties, too.
I like to call it the "Wussification" of Hollywood. Who are the young action stars now? Shia LaBoeuf? Andrew Garfield? I don't see either of them beating Denzel in an arm wrestle. Do you? Washington, Neeson and even tiny Tom Cruise can do plausible fisticuffs, while LaBoeuf and Garfield do laser beams and spider webs. One unfortunate young pretender, Taylor Kitsch, got swallowed up by the CGI awfulness of his two big summer blockbusters: Battleship and John Carter. So who's the last best hope for old-school action movies? My money's on another Taylor: Lautner, the muscly werewolf. Unfortunately.