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Rambo Tag

With Red about to hit theaters this weekend, I thought I’d take a look at a few other notable older movie characters who happen to be badasses. I decided to limit this list to humans only, so sorry there’s no Yoda here. But there is a Jedi.

Harry Doyle and Archie Long from Tough Guys (1986, Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas). “Well, what do you want to do now, Archie? Steal another empty armored truck? Maybe start a collection?” The ’80s version of Red was this pairing of Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster as two old criminals released from prison for hijacking a train and now have to adjust to modern day lifestyle after being locked up for 30 years. Meanwhile Eli Wallach plays a hit man with an old contract out on them, but he is damn near blind and can barely see his quarry.

Badassitude Level: They hijack the same train they got arrested for and continue driving it even when they run out of tracks.


OutfieldWe slammed the doors of the Whomobile and left the skater punks behind. Matt and I crossed the street. Approaching Jeff’s house, I felt ready for anything. This kid, a guy I thought was my friend, was about to suffer the wrath of Scott Malchus.

Summer, 1986. It was a significant year for me, as it was the first time I was trusted to stay home alone for the summer. Well, not completely alone. While my parents and younger sister were off touring the country in a camper, my older brother, Budd, was in charge of supervising me. But we pretty much kept out of each other’s way. That summer I was part of a rock band and played paying gigs (pretty sweet for a cover band); I had a cute girlfriend; I drove a cool car (the Whomobile); and surprisingly, I was relatively popular. It was a good time to be a 16-year-old.

My band of choice was the Outfield, the British trio whose song, “Your Love,” was a smash hit. Guitarist/songwriter John Spinks had a gift for the perfect pop hook and bassist/lead singer Tony Lewis’s aching voice was the perfect instrument for Spinks’ songs. Rounding out the band was drummer Alan Jackman, who provided the right amount of power and kick to lift the band above the fray. Every song on Play Deep is a classic that I sang to and played along to for months. “61 Seconds,” the song that closes out side one, has always stood out to me.  It’s a departure from the broken-hearted/paranoid lyrics that populate the rest of the album, dealing with the plight of the working man. With its ticking clock and propelling beat, I can only imagine that I listened to “61 Seconds” several times the evening Matt and I drove over to confront Jeff.

Sequels aren’t always good, but the movie-loving teenager who continues to take up space inside my soul will always be excited by them, especially the mere concept of sequels, i.e. “more of what you love (if all goes well).” These days, when it does go well, like with last summer’s Live Free or Die Hard, it’s a nice surprise. When it doesn’t, like with 2002’s Men in Black II, you almost forget what you liked so much the first time around.

This summer there will be a new Indiana Jones movie in theaters, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It’s a big deal in the world of sequels, seeing as how there hasn’t been a new entry in this series since 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Expectations are high for some fans, who might have preferred that Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Harrison Ford stopped after three films, but the Indiana Jones series was never structured as a trilogy like the two sets of Star Wars movies. Nothing was resolved in Last Crusade that was first brought up in 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, except for the deaths of more Nazis.

My expectations for Kingdom aren’t that high, but that’s because I’m no longer at an age where the quality of a summer blockbuster affects the quality of my summer; I’ll take it for what it is once I see it. Back in 1999 I wanted The Phantom Menace, the first new Star Wars movie in 16 years, to be good, but I knew it wouldn’t capture my imagination like the original trilogy did. How could it? I was 23 in 1999, not 6.

I still like that first trilogy, but by the time I hit college The Empire Strikes Back (1980) was the only one that completely “worked” for me as an adult. Star Wars (1977) is still a giddy hybrid of genres, but the bad acting is hard to overlook once you’re older, and even as a child I thought the construction of a new Death Star in Return of the Jedi (1983) was a tired idea. Most fans hated the Ewoks, but I was aggravated by the intergalactic equivalent of a new Walmart.