Action Movies Essay Research Paper Simply by — страница 5

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wife is expecting their first child). This remains true until the very end of the film, when one of the terrorists, seemingly returning from the dead, comes back to wreak revenge on McClane, coming at him from behind to shoot him in the back. Only then, when the life of the Great White Hero is in danger and the cowboy himself is unaware, can the black man, now properly inspired, draw his weapon and save McClane. Black male violence and the sexuality the film equates it with is acceptable only if executed by an officer of the law in the service of saving a white subject.Even as it expresses anxiety about its loss, the action film is deeply invested in maintaining patriarchal power, and this explains why most action heroes are either cops, soldiers, or government agents of some

sort. The archetypal action heroes of the '70s, Charles Bronson (Death Wish, 1974) and Clint Eastwood (Magnum Force, 1973), set a precedent for these figures of patriarchal authority. They themselves having problems following orders, and, as with so many of the classical Western heroes, seem uncomfortable in the societies and institutions they themselves help protect. Dirty Harry (1971) famously ends with Eastwood's Harry Callahan tossing away his police badge in disgust. But in the '80s, as action films became increasingly symptomatic of the Reagan Administration's ideology and values, action heros began to change not only in physical appearance, but also in character. Rather than being the outsiders and vigilante loners of the '70s, they tended to be part of society. John

McClane is a family man who begins Die Hard estranged from his wife and children and ends up reunited and reconciled. In the Lethal Weapon series, Mel Gibson's Martin Riggs starts out as an anti-social broken-hearted widower/Vietnam War vet, and ends up, by the fourth installment, married to a pregnant Rene Russo. In Con Air, Nicolas Cage's wrongly accused Green Beret inmate can kick recidivist ass while still protecting a stuffed bunny rabbit he is obsessed with bringing home to his daughter. In John Woo's Face/Off (1997), John Travolta's FBI agent Sean Archer is brought into conflict with Nicolas Cage's Castor Troy when Troy shoots Archer's son. Even single men in action films often find love among the bullets. Broken Arrow's good guy, Christian Slater ends up with park ranger

and accidental partner Suzi Amis, and, in a film that was aggressively marketed as "Die Hard on a bus," Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock spend enough time confined together in the tight space of a bus in Speed (1994) to get to know each other rather well. In yet another role as the sassy action hero's love interest, Bullock's nostalgia-obsessed police officer of the future becomes the object of choice for the recently unfrozen Sylvester Stallone in Demolition Man (1993).Given their masculinist bent, it is not surprising that, despite this relentless coupling, action films are also the site of an extraordinary amount of homosociality, the liminally erotic, but decidedly non-(overtly)-sexual congregation and social formation of men. In yet another generic hybrid, the

fighter pilot film combines the action film and the space film and provides the rigorously masculine environment of the armed forces to present its homosociality. If The Right Stuff (1984) is infused with the real history of the development of the space program to the point where its identity as a fighter pilot film is submerged (far more so than Tom Wolfe's book on which it is based), then Top Gun (1986), existing outside of any real historical claims, announces itself loud and clear. Like Die Hard, Top Gun is emblematic of both the hard body and the Reagan Era neokitsch aesthetic. As a typical Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer production, it comes with all the requisite testosterone a fighter pilot film needs. The star pilot (Tom Cruise) is named Maverick, making explicit the link

between gunfighters and fighter pilots, F-15s and horses. In another tip to the Western, Cruise is depicted as a gunfighter initiate with a serious Oedipal complex about his father, (cf. Shane and Red River), who, also a fighter pilot, was downed under mysterious circumstances in Vietnam (again, as with Gibson's Sergeant Riggs in the Lethal Weapon series, echoing the crucible of violence in which action films are formed). It would be inaccurate to consider it a Combat film, not least because the only actual fighting that takes place happens at the end, and is covert; officially, it never happened. Rather, Maverick and the other cowboys literally ride the range in their F-15s; all they do is train high above the Mojave desert, but not so high that the landscape over which they fly