Rabid movie fans are used to getting their dose of action being dished out by the bulging biceps of action heroes like Bruce ‘Die-Hard’ Willis, or the dishy bare knuckles of Daniel ‘I am Bond-of-the-moment’ Craig. But almost as unlikely as The Rock playing a Tooth Fairy, there are some stars who break out of the mould, to much surprise. We take a look at these unlikely new-school action heroes who hold their own (guns) against the swashbuckling likes of the perennial faves.
1. Helen Mirren + John Malkovich
Action movie regular Bruce Willis gets two allies in the form of Helen Mirren and John Malkovich in Red, an upcoming movie based on a DC graphic novel about a retired CIA agent. Yes, we all know what you’re thinking right about now - Helen Mirren only plays Queens and John Malkovich, is well, John Malkovich. But while the duo is not exactly your regular bullet-and-explosion fare, there is something intriguing about watching them navigate through the unfamiliar waters of an action flick.
Mirren plays Victoria who looks every bit as regal and immaculate while manning a .50 calibre machine gun and Malkovich plays the hilarious paranoid oddball Marvin in an eccentric ensemble cast. The grand dame is every bit as convincing as the sexagenarian bed-and-breakfast proprietor who knows her way around a sniper rifle while Malkovich provides the laughs. The best part of it all? They are as unorthodox as they can get. The duo delivers throughout the movie, creating characters that go beyond cartoon action types and adds a refreshing twist to an otherwise typical two-dimensional genre.
2. Joseph Gordon Levitt
He was Tommy in sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun, starred alongside Heath Ledger in teen flick 10 Things I Hate About You, was the lead in indie rom-com 500 Days of Summer, and landed a breakout role in this summer’s blockbuster hit, Inception. Now, this once-upon-a-time geek’s star is shining brighter than ever.
After his dreamy zero-gravity hallway brawl became THE scene to watch in Inception, studios came knocking down his door, tapping him as the next big action star. Gordon-Levitt is now busy filming the upcoming film Premium Rush, an action flick about a bike messenger who picks up a package at Columbia University and subsequently catches the attention of a dirty cop.
His goofy grin and charming demeanor makes him the highly unlikely, yet absolutely perfect action star, urging you to root against the big bad bald guys who come charging at him.
Now we can definitely count more than 10 things we love about him.
Movie: The Green Hornet
3. Seth Rogen
Seth Rogan does not immediately inspire one to think action hero, and the not-exactly svelte comedic star’s resume of Judd Apatow movies like Knocked Up, Superbad and 40-Year-Old Virgin screams goofball more than gun-toting action star.
So just what is it that puts an overweight comedian yet brilliant writer in the category of an action hero? Oh yes, that one little movie titled The Pineapple Express, where he plays a boring court employee who winds up getting chased by criminals, standing up to corrupt cops and a rogue Asian gang to defend himself. The scene where he saved his buddy and escapes from a top secret warehouse that bursts into flame was his Stallone moment.
Next up, catch him as he stars in the remake of The Green Hornetwhere he plays the masked vigilante alongside singer Jay Chou.
4. Adrien Brody
Brody is scarily thin. His interestingly crooked nose and somewhat malnourished frame leads him to Academy Award-winning movies like The Pianist. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a darn good actor and his role in The Darjeeling Limited may even peg him as a funny guy. Sure he has sort of battled King Kong, but an action hero?
We weren’t convinced, not until we saw Predators. Brody bulked up and put on 25 pounds for the role. He read survival manuals and military training books, he meditated and put himself on a strict diet without sugar and alcohol. He went the whole nine yards to make himself the character in the show, just like he did for all his other roles. The final result was more than satisfactory. We no longer worry if the gun he’s holding is too heavy for him nor if he was gonna die from just a mere kick from the aliens.
He gave us a new action hero prototype, one that isn’t just reliant on physical strength but one that outsmarts the enemy based on weapons and skills. Brody injects intellect into the hero, and he may be one of the few ones that can do just that.
Movie: Scott Pilgrim vs The World
5. Michael Cera
You probably all know him as the guy who knocked up Juno. Michael Cera is the quintessential geek who is such a sweetheart, he always gets the girl. He is the die-hard romantic in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and like fellow unlikely action hero Seth Rogan, he starred in cult favourite Superbad.
Not only does he come across passive and as docile as one can imagine, he definitely seems like the kind of guy who wouldn’t even hurt a fly. Yet in a turn of events, he takes on the role of Scott Pilgrim in Scott Pilgrim vs The World. And like in his other movies, he is quick to fall in love and begins desperately chasing down his new love interest Ramona Flowers played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Ramona’s evil exes start showing up to battle Scott for her love, and he turns up the ante, throwing punches, dodging kicks and showing off his legwork with gravity-defying jumps.
In our books, he’s definitely a hero for love. Scott Pilgrim vs The Worldwill not be opening in Singapore, but hey, you can still watch the trailer!