Several years ago, probably ten or twelve now, I gave up on action flicks. I thought they were shallow, glorified violence, and demeaned women. I know. I can hear some of you right now saying that’s exactly what they are. Well, in some ways they are all that, but perspective is everything.
Transporter 1 and Jason Statham got me and my husband out of our anti-action flick phase. We LOVED it. We talked about it for days and we couldn’t stop smiling.
It was at this time, we realized what we had mistaken as shallow was really just very simple and straight forward storytelling with very human themes: redemption, revenge, get the girl, protection of the weak, save the earth —> you know, simple. Action flicks generally focus in on one part of humanity we can all relate to on a subconscious level. Commando: save his daughter. Rambo: survive against the odds. Boondock Saints: justice. Expendables 1: find a soul. Terminator 2: save the world by saving a little boy. Die Hard: wrong place, wrong time, do the right thing anyway. Faster: revenge and salvation. Cobra: protect the girl. Almost all action flicks can be reduced down to a single theme. And almost all of them are honorable. Almost all of them are exactly what we hope we would do if put in the same position – even if we don’t have all the special effects.
What we mistook as too much violence we came to understand as warrior tales along the lines of old Norse and Icelandic Sagas. These are stories about warriors. They are not stories about diplomats, politicians, poets, artists, or even leaders. They are not stories about really good men. They are stories about warriors. These are the tales about people who lay their lives on the line for others, but not by laying down their weapons. They charge into the fray guns blazing. They understand there are things worth dying for and there are things worth fighting for. They understand this world is a violent place and sometimes that violence has to be met with equal or greater force. These tales are something we desperately need in our day and age of peace and safety at any price. We need good warrior tales.
What we mistook as demeaning to women was actually stories of protection from the Man’s point of view. In our post-feminist era women need to be reminded and remember that we are different from men. The more we try to act like we aren’t, the more trouble we get into. It is okay for a movie to be geared towards men, have male heroes, and beautiful women being saved. I can’t think of any recent action flick where the woman passed out and did nothing to help her guy, but girls, get off your high horse. We complain about eye candy – really have you watched any Twilight movies??? I’ve only seen the first one but I’ve heard enough of the jokes to realize Jacob is in constant need of a shirt. If we think eye candy is a male thing we need to take a long hard look at ourselves, ladies. Second, how would we like it if guys started screaming that we needed to redo Pride and Prejudice with Mr. Darcy instead of Lizzie as the main character? We have plenty of movies where the women are the lead role. We have plenty of movies where men are the lead role. That’s how it should be. But, I’ll tell you this. I HATE action flicks with butch women. It makes me madder than the eye candy, stupid women – which I’ve pointed out there are not many of those these days. Nothing makes me madder than watching some girl take out all the big guys like that was super easy. Now, if she has guns and training, that is fine. But hand to hand? It’s a little unrealistic unless he is a couch potato. But, I digress. As a woman, I do not find action flicks offensive. I understand they are from a male POV. I find that refreshing since I have to live in my female POV all the time.
So…all that to say, I have a deep love and respect for the classic action flick. Safe was one of them. And, the little girl wasn’t extra, overly pretty. She was cute, but more importantly she was believable as a super smart kid. I loved her. She was smart, courageous and kind. Her and Statham’s character’s chemistry was great. You wanted him to save this little girl. You wanted them to drive off in the sunset together! Yay. This was a redemption, revenge, take down the evil villains movie. That was it. There was no major twist. No unexpected shock and awe. Just Statham doing his thing and saving a little girl who in the end saved him from himself – more than once. It was fun! Violent – yes. But it did not bathe in the violence, it was what it was cause of its subject matter. Straight forward story? Yes! And that’s perfect for Sunday evening when I don’t really want to have to think through a complicated plot. Women needing protection? Yep! A little girl caught up in a big world and needing help finds it in a man needing a reason to live. It’s great!
Now you know why I love a well done action flick….and I didn’t even get into the snarky lines, explosions and well done fight scenes!