Burn, Hollywood, Burn
A regular review by John Black
With the recent release of Rambo: Last Blood and its critical mauling for daring to feature a violent and vengeful 73 year old man (the Guardian called it an ‘enlarged prostate of a movie’; imagine if someone had called Thelma and Louise a ‘diseased uterus of a movie’), I have decided to share my ‘Top 5 Grumpy Old Man Revenge Movies’ as a general ‘up yours’ to such ageist misandry.
My only criteria have been they must feature an old guy (at least 60 years old when the movie was released) with attitude and seeking vengeance of a violent nature. If you have your own suggestions, please let me know in the comments below.
Let’s start with pure popcorn. Danny Trejo was 66 and a jobbing actor with a face like a dropped meat pie when he got his first starring role as ‘machete’ a real mean motor scooter who kills people …with a machete. But only after they really pissed him off by killing his wife in front of him…with a machete. Steven Seagal and (surprisingly) Robert De Niro play the bad guys.
Best moment of old bugger bad arsery: Machete using a guy’s intestinal tract to abseil down a building.
4. THE LIMEY (1999)
The only one in my list that could be confused with an art film. Former swinging sixties ace face Terence Stamp plays the enigmatic Wilson, a Brit gangster who travels to L.A. to find those responsible for his daughter’s death. Peter Fonda is Terry Valentine, the record producer sleaze whom Wilson thinks is responsible. It’s directed by Steven Soderberg who somehow finds the dark corners of the ever sunny L.A landscape. By the end Wilson is consumed by anger for the person really responsible for his daughter’s death – himself. Won praise at that year’s Cannes – but don’t worry it’s still worth a watch.
Best moment of old bugger bad arsery: Wilson throwing Valentine’s heavy off a hilltop balcony.
3. THE EQUALIZER
After his prostitute friend Alina is badly beaten by the Russian mafia, retired military intelligence officer McCall (Denzel Washington) takes them apart one vodka swilling goon at a time. That’s it basically. Very loosely inspired by the famous Brit TV series.
Best moment of old bugger bad arsery: in the climactic scene set in a hardware store McCall gets very creative with a nail gun.
4. HARRY BROWN
Michael Caine is the titular Harry, an ex-royal-marine who takes it personally when his fellow old codger and best mate Len gets it from some yoof on a London housing estate. Harry then sets about his civic duty by gunning down the vicious hoodlums who infest his neighbourhood. The Bill ain’t too happy about that. And neither are the gangsters. Controversial at the time because of Sir Michael’s real life championing of the law and order message of the film – as a former ‘sarf’ Londoner, he was shocked at how the area had declined. Some on the Left were suddenly of the opinion that actors should keep out of politics – an opinion they seemed to have gotten over since Brexit, Trump, Climate Change etc. and all the luvvies being applauded for following the lefty line.
Best moment of old bugger bad arsery: Harry giving a drug dealer a lecture on weapon maintenance (‘You have failed to maintain your weapon…son.’) before blowing him into next Thursday.
1. GRAN TORINO
The platonic ideal of grumpy old men, Clint Eastwood, is Walt Kowalski, a hard-arse retired auto worker alienated from his family and aghast at all the ‘gooks’ moving into his neighbourhood.
Walt, a Korean vet ends up defending the ‘gook’ family next door when they come under attack from gangbangers. He gives the wayward young man of the house, Thao, a crash course in manliness and together they make a stand against the hoods.
Probably the least violent of my pics but not if you accept the ‘language = violence’ concept of the radical Left. The film is brimming with pretty nasty ethnic slurs – mostly from Walt. There is a hilarious scene in a barber shop where Walt instructs Thao how to relate to other men using egalitarian ethnic jibes that every woke leftist should be forced to watch on a loop until they start voting for Trump. The radical ideas of the movie being that actions matter more than words and that rough working class men can actually be decent blokes. Shocking.
Why is it number one? Because Clint ‘Dirty Harry/The Man With No Name/The Unforgiven’ Eastwood, directed and starred in it, that’s why.
Best moment of old bugger bad arsery: the final confrontation with the gang.
Never shoot first.