I think we can all agree that there's only one thing more journalistically lazy than the infamous "list column"…no matter how well-written and entertaining it is. And, fortunately, I'm bringing the sloth as I blog about someone else's list column.
Our friends at Entertainment Weekly (né "People For Dummies") have compiled their list of the 25 Greatest Action Movies of All Time! And, the exclamation point isn't mine.
To wit…the list:
1.) Die Hard (1988)
2.) Aliens (1986)
3.) Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
4.) The Road Warrior (1982)
5.) The Matrix (1999)
6.) Seven Samurai (1954)
7.) Gladiator (2000)
8.) Saving Private Ryan (1998)
9.) Hard-Boiled (1992)
10.) Terminator 2 (1991)
11.) Speed (1994)
12.) The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
13.) The Wild Bunch (1969)
14.) Robocop (1987)
15.) Enter the Dragon (1973)
16.) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
17.) The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
18.) The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
19.) Goldfinger (1964)
20.) Kill Bill – Volume 1 (2003)
21.) Spider-Man 2 (2004)
22.) Predator (1987)
23.) Drunken Master II (1994)
24.) Lethal Weapon (1987)
25.) The Incredibles (2004)
+ For me, the thing that stands out is that I've only seen 13 of these movies and just five of the top ten. Have I really been missing out on some timeless thrills and chills or am I getting just a wee bit too worked up over someone's subjective junk list? Well, I guess I'm left with what I know.
+ Too high: The Matrix…OK, I'll concede that The Matrix was one of the most influential movies in recent memory. It blazed the 21st century cinematic path for special effects, fight sequences and incomprehensibly nonsensical plots. Oh, and it single-handedly challenged Scarface as the most referenced and revered movie amongst rappers. All of these things count for something.
Now, will you concede that it's also the most overrated movie in recent memory? There are some undeniably exciting sequences…and, bear in mind that I haven't seen this flick since 1999…but, was there a DVD version released that removed the 2 ½ hours of faux-philosophical dialogue, the glacial pacing and overt pretentiousness? No? Then, I stand by my claim.
+ Too low: Lethal Weapon…I promise that this will be the only time I play the "How can _____ be ahead of _____?!" game, but how can frickin' Speed be ahead of Lethal Weapon (or, for that matter, any other movie on this list)?! I suppose Weapon owes something to Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte for revitalizing the "Odd Couple" cop formula in 48 Hours, but the chemistry between Mel Gibson and Danny Glover would rank in the top two of EW's inevitable "25 Greatest On Screen Chemistry Between Two Male Leads" list.
It's big and loud and chock full of '80s excess, but "Riggs" and "Murtaugh" are written with just enough vulnerability to avoid becoming "can't kill 'em" caricatures. (Zing, Bruce Willis!) This low ranking can only be residual blame for the Joe Pesci, Rene Russo, Chris Rock and Jet Li-laden sequels. "Editorial license", says Entertainment Weekly. "It's just been revoked!", I retort.
+ Why does NO ONE ever talk about the gigantic plot hole at the end of Terminator 2 when the shape-shifting villainous Terminator has Sarah Connor in his clutches and demands that she "call out" to her son, ostensibly to lure him to his death. Why couldn't he have killed Sarah Connor, took her form and then sucker the boy in to his death? I've been b*tching about this for 16 years and I can only assume that none of you are listening.
+ Speed at #11…absolutely criminal. Just a comically awful film in which the only lasting legacy was the official start of the "Sandra Bullock" era (1994-1997) in Hollywood. Has an unintentionally better bookend than Speed 2: Cruise Control ever been built?
+ On a related note, has there ever been a farther drop in quality from original to sequel than Robocop and Robocop 2? The original was wonderfully unabashed camp and depravity. The sequel featured a 12-year-old crime boss and about 100,000 f-bombs. And, that's why I don't own any Lil' Bow Wow albums.
+ EW has promised that #26 thru 50 will run on their website next week. Off the top of my head, I'd expect to see: True Lies (should've been in the top 20 for almost saving Jaime Lee Curtis' career), either The Rock or Face-Off (two of the best bad movies of recent vintage) and shout outs to Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson and Sly and the Family Stallone.