It's not a new trend and bloggers have been typing up their observations about it for a while, but I noticed the leads in 'The Killer Elite' (Jason Statham, Clive Owen) are British, while the sole American, Robert De Niro, is (or seems to be) playing a secondary (but perhaps not supporting) role. So, is this another flick where there were no Americans tough enough to step up and take the lead? Sure, the action is set in another country but, still, it's a bit glaring. And the trend continues to firm up.
'Cowboys & Aliens' has the same setup with Daniel Craig (again, British) in the lead and Harrison Ford playing a secondary role.
Make no mistake. Ford and De Niro represent masculinity pretty well. We know that. Raging Bull, Air Force One, all that stuff. We get it, loved it. But, they're not young men anymore. And now we're getting to the core of the issue.
Young American men are getting more and more scarce in Hollywood action movies. Is it something in the water that makes young guys in this country so damn...um...delicate?
Why do we have to look to other countries where they speak English to find our leading men? We turned to Russell Crowe (from New Zealand) to man up for the action thriller 'The Next Three Days'. He's seen next in big guy roles in 'The Man with the Iron Fists' (like an American
Of course, the example that carries the most sting is 'The Dark Knight' directed by Christopher Nolan (England, wouldn't you know). With Heath Ledger (an Aussie) as The Joker and Christian Bale (from Wales) playing one of the most iconic of American figures that we all grew up with and loved -- Batman. No Americans guys around with enough fortitude to fill those shoes, I guess. Nice. Great. Just great.
It gets worse. 'The Dark Knight Rises' stars Bale again, naturally. Gary Oldman (England) returns as Commissioner Gordon (was he British?), and Liam Neeson (Ireland), a man's man who is coming off leads in action flicks like 'Taken' 'The A-Team' 'Unknown' and the upcoming 'The Grey' (also starring the rugged Joe Anderson who is from, that's right, England), plays Ra's al Ghul.
Of course, Michael Caine (very British) is back as Batman's butler, Alfred. I guess he's okay, though, as a butler should be British. But still, that's a lot of Britons and such pulling down leads in a corn-fed all-American action thriller.
Then there's that American comic book superhero 'Thor'. Okay, okay. I know. He's a Norse God, but we know of him, a Hollywood movie was made featuring him, because of the all-American Marvel Comics in which he appeared that were read by boys in this country for decades. The movie would have been a much tougher sell if we only knew of Thor from studying mythology in college. So, thanks to comic books, Thor = American. Here's a look at some of the he-man actors from the movie and where they were born:
Sturdy Chris Hemsworth -- (Thor) Australia (and because there's a shortage of American tough guys, he'll be taking the lead in the action flick 'Red Dawn', thank you very much USA pretty boys).
Trim and fit Tom Hiddleston (Loki) -- England. Because of the dearth of macho American leads he'll be playing a captain in 'War Horse'.
Ever virile Anthony Hopkins (Odin) -- Wales.
The challenging Stellan Skarsgard -- Sweden.
The penetrating Kenneth Branagh directed -- he's from Ireland, where men are men.
Buffed up Ray Stevenson (Ireland).
Whew. That's hard to take. I'm thirsty. I need some water. Better get a brand bottled in another country lest I dainty up to the point of no return.
Oh, wait! This just in! Guess what. Tough as nails Idris Elba who is/was up for a lead in 'Django Unchained' (A Western. Nothing gets more American than that. Nothing), who also just wrapped the smash 'em up 'Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance', and is filming 'Prometheus' -- an action/horror -- has just secured a lead in the action movie 'Pacific Rim'. Is he American? Please. The man was born in England, nursery and country of origin for rough and tumble brawny guys who will grow up to star in Hollywood movies when the part calls for a stout fellow and no American guys can be found because they're at the salon for treatments or a manicure or maybe to get their eyebrows plucked, or perhaps just getting some beauty sleep.
The movie, about giant robots piloted by humans that fight alien invaders, also stars Charlie Hunnam (England), and is directed by Guillermo del Toro (Mexico).
Ouch. Where's that non-American water?