With The Expendables 2 opening this weekend, it unites Sylvester Stallone (age 66) with Chuck Norris (72), Arnold Schwarzenegger (65) and Bruce Willis (57). In this case it’s the years and the mileage. But having a bunch of geriatrics deliver death blows in nothing new in cinema, and many of our favorite masters of putting foot-to-ass could collect Social Security. Here’s a list of our favorite old asskickers.
10. Jim Brown (Age 60), Fred Williamson (58), Richard Roundtree (54), Ron O’Neal (59), Pam Grier (47) – Original Gangstas
Though only Jim Brown was over 60, we feel this should be included because it seems like the first version of The Expendables, the OG version at least. (also a possible inspiration: Tough Guys, starring Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster). The premise is that the biggest stars of blaxploitation were reunited to fight the gang violence that was made famous in the 1980′s. It’s also way better than the first Expendables, and was directed by Larry Cohen, that great B-Movie master.
9. Ian McKellan (62-64) – The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Ian McKellan’s Gandalf might have a head of gray hair, but that doesn’t stop him from taking on cave trolls, ballrogs and winged serpents. Yes, at least one of these monsters killed him, but that doesn’t stop him from coming back to life and killing some more. He also gets credit for getting into an old man fight with Christopher Lee, who was 79. We’d include Lee on the list, but even though he’s been doing some great fighting in the last decade, it’s either in very small roles or (in the case of Star Wars) with a lot of digital assistance.
8. Clint Eastwood (62) – Unforgiven
Clint has had a number of butt-kicking roles since 1992′s Unforgiven, but this is the last time he’s really deadly (Gran Torino is more grumpy than violent). Here Eastwood’s William Muny is brought into the killing game and takes on a saloon full of cowboys by himself. Wicked.
7. Alec Guiness (63) – Star Wars
Even though he’s known as Old Ben, Obi-Wan Kenobi is someone not to be trifled with. You mess with him or his friends, he’ll take your arm. And though he may lose a fight to Darth Vader, the film lets you know that he’s doing that on purpose. That’s as bad ass as you can get.
6. Albert Brooks (64) – Drive
Though known as a comedian (and one of the greats), Albert Brooks gave one of his greatest performances playing an older gangster with a penchant for knives in Drive, and you believed that a man about to start getting government checks could take out Ryan “Hey Girl” Gossling.
5. Randolph Scott (64) Joel McCrea (57) -Ride the High Country
One of cinema’s first “Let’s get cinema legends to ride off into the cinematic sunset” films, the film paired western legend Scott with McCrea, and had them take on a family of jerks who were looking to marry/rape a young girl. When the violence is about to begin in the film’s closing sequence, McCrea says one of the film’s best line: “all I want is to enter my house justified.” In this case, it’s killing all the bad guys first before dying.
4. Charles Bronson (64) – Death Wish III
Though Bronson kept making movies after this 1985 sequel to Death Wish, this is arguably his best of that later run, and by best I mean absolutely terrible and amazingly entertaining. With England shot for what appears to be something like New York, Bronson’s Paul Kersey takes on street gangs in this very un-PC kill-them-all movie. We’ll put it this way: if the politics of the first film are muddled, this takes that to the nth degree and turns the world into a giant cartoon. And at the center of all of it one badass geriatric buttkicker.
3. Helen Mirren (65)- Red
Red also traffics in the idea of getting old people to go back to what they did in their youth, but the heart of the movie is Helen Mirren, proving she can kill with the best of them. On top of which – and it has to be said – she looks so good doing it. Helen Mirren: The Hottest senior citizen.
2. Gene Hackman (66) – The Quick and the Dead
Though his casting had a lot to do with the success of Unforgiven, even nearing 70, Hackman is completely believeable as the fastest gun in the west. Here he’s so cold-hearted he gets into a gunfight with his own son. He also sets someone up to hang by putting them on a chair, and shoots the chair out from under them one splinter at a time.
1. John Wayne (69) – The Shootist
John Wayne knew he was dying. I mean, he already lost a lung by 1976 and knew that The Shootist was going to be his last film. And in it he plays an old gunslinger who knows his days are numbered. But he wasn’t going to go out like a wuss, and even as he neared his deathbed, The Duke (who died in 1979) he wanted one last film to cement his legacy.
Who are your favorite elderly asskickers?