A couple of weeks ago I saw Kevin Costner’s debut as an ageing action man in 3 Days to Kill, and noted that, despite the star’s best efforts, it wasn’t up to much, and indeed failed to set the box office on fire. It did leave me wondering whether any other veteran actors might try a Taken-style action star late-career reinvention like Liam Neeson has. There have already been a couple of mostly forgotten attempts already, with Guy Pierce in the sci-fi/action thriller Lockout (which Luc Besson also produced) and Aaron Eckhart in The Expatriate aka Erased.
So here are my humble choices of 5 actors who might just be suited to a B-movie action role. My criteria were fairly simple, actors in their mid-fifties or older who might have been in some action-related films in the past but are not primarily associated with the genre, and who I think could convincingly bring an elevating quality to a decent action movie. Now I’m not saying they should all make a whole bunch of such movies as Neeson has, but could do well in one.
An extremely versatile character actor, noted for his ability to play a variety of nationalities. He’s appeared in everything from art-house fare, quirky indies and prestige pictures to huge blockbusters. He did in fact make his debut in Raiders of the Lost Ark but since then his action-type roles have mainly been villainous turns in the likes of Spider-Man 2 and The Sorcerers’ Apprentice.
The smart face of a few of the nineties biggest films, it sadly seemed like we might have lost Goldblum to procedural network TV a few years back. His stint there didn’t last too long but recently he’s mainly been popping up in small roles in comedies. As much as it’s always great to see him, he deserves to be the lead again.
Another versatile stage and screen vet, appeared in a handful of key eighties dramas, but he’s proved to be just as comfortable in broad comedy, spending many years as a sitcom lead, as he is in more sinister roles, see Dexter’s 4th (and best) season. His only real action movie has been as a by-the-numbers villain in Stallone’s Cliffhanger, but I think he could pull off playing an anti-hero too.
Yes, he was James Bond, the best James Bond in fact (I’ve been saying it for years and am going to keep on doing so). He hasn’t had a great deal of high-profile work in recent years bar Toy Story 3 and Doctor Who, but he was hilarious in Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz and managed to steal the show from a large cast of established comedy stars. He never got his third Bond film due to legal troubles and I’d love to see him make up for it.
Sam Neill’s never had a part as big as Jurassic Park, and like his co-star Jeff Goldblum, has recently been taking on more unremarkable TV roles, in addition to small supporting film ones. He popped up last year in a tiny but crucial part in the better-than-you-might-have-heard Stallone/Schwarzenegger double-header Escape Plan, and it just highlighted for me that he could have easily been the lead in such a film.