So Oliver Stone has a new film, "Alexander. " He still thinks he's king of guy movies. Yeah, Stone wrote some hard-boiled stuff in his day: "Midnight Express," "Salvador," "Platoon,"...
So Oliver Stone has a new film, “Alexander.” He still thinks he’s king of guy movies.
Yeah, Stone wrote some hard-boiled stuff in his day: “Midnight Express,” “Salvador,” “Platoon,” “Scarface.” That was a long time ago.
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No use sugarcoating it: Stone is gonna get kicked out of the Tough Guy Hall of Fame if he keeps making schlock like this.
First off, memorable guy movies combine tension, realistic action, unsentimental characters, plot twists and gritty atmosphere. Violence? Sure, for the sake of the story. But gore, explosions, battles and special effects aren’t enough. At least for grown-ups.
Guy movies are ruled by renegades, rebels, loners, cynics, soldiers, private eyes, cops and criminals. That’s not enough, either — they need to be real guys.
The right actor helps.
Colin Farrell? Try Alexander the Brat. For one thing, he talks too much. A memorable guy movie has a star who knows when to shut up.
Like “Bullitt.” Renegade cop Steve McQueen lets his driving talk for him in the car chase through San Francisco that steered him into male moviedom immortality.
Or “Jeremiah Johnson.” Mountain man Robert Redford has only one thing to say in the first 14 minutes of the movie: “Where is it I can find bear, beaver and other critters worth cash money when skinned?” A frontier shopkeeper answers: “Ride west to the sunset; turn left at the Rocky Mountains.” Redford nearly starves and freezes to death, proving again why guys should never ask for directions.
Then there’s “Glory.” Runaway slave Denzel Washington doesn’t need a speech to tell his regiment of black Union soldiers how he feels the night before a suicidal assault on a Confederate fort: “I ain’t much about no prayin’. … You all are the only family I got. … Ain’t much matter what happens tomorrow.”
War movies. Westerns. Crime. Yep, guys like them. That’s why Hollywood keeps making them. Along with sports, action and science-fiction movies.
OK, most of them stink. That’s because most are written for 14-year-old guys. “Die Hard,” dumb. “Predator,” dumber. “Rambo,” dumbest.
It figures. Anything starring Willis, Stallone or Arnold is best seen before you’re old enough to shave.
Forget those guys. How about world-weary guys like Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Morgan Freeman, Stacy Keach, James Woods. Or the ’70s films of Pacino, De Niro, Nicholson, Duvall, Connery, George C. Scott. Before them, there were Lancaster, Mitchum, Widmark, Holden, Lee Marvin. And don’t forget the original tough guys: Bogart, Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, John Garfield.
Truth is, a guy movie doesn’t demand a guy star. Check out Sigourney Weaver in “Aliens.” She is so fierce that she makes John Wayne look like Elmer Fudd.
A guy movie can even have some romance. There’s so much carrying on between Russell Crowe and Kim Basinger in “L.A. Confidential” that it nearly becomes a chick flick.
It doesn’t. In the end, LAPD’s Crowe and Guy Pearce snap out of it and find themselves surrounded and outgunned by gangster cops.
Sometimes a guy film combines such an inspired mix of writing, director and actors that it transcends the trite and the taciturn. “The Godfather,” “French Connection,” “Patton,” “The Deer Hunter,” all best-picture Oscars.
Sometimes guys even tolerate a happy ending. In “High Noon,” Gary Cooper emerges from his final gunfight, throws down his tin star and quits as town lawman, all for the love of a woman.
Now that’s a tough guy.