The Greatest Ass-Kicking Movie Oldsters


If the movies are to be believed, the idea that growing old means growing infirm is a complete and total myth. Often in the movie world, the older you get means the more butt you will be capable of kicking. Age not only brings wisdom, but the ability to fire heavy weapons, win bar fights, wield laser swords and dress down the most dangerous secret agents in the world.

RED and its upcoming sequel RED 2 both wear the advanced ages of its heroes (Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, et al) as a badge of honor. And why not? Old people can kick your ass. These guys (and lady) sure would.

The Actor: Clint Eastwood

His Age at the Time: 62

The Character: Will Munny in Unforgiven

The Context: What happens when you become the Old Man with No Name? In Unforgiven, Clint Eastwood takes on a role that feels very much like the aged version of a character he would have played in his youth. Once a vicious, violent outlaw, Will Munny has settled down in his twilight years… until the opportunity to go on one final bounty-hunting job rears its ugly head. His final saloon showdown with Gene Hackman's brutal Sheriff Daggett proves that Eastwood only gets meaner, tougher and more badass as he grows older.

The Video Proof:

The Actor: Spencer Tracy

His Age at the Time: 54

The Character: John J. Macreedy in Bad Day at Black Rock

The Context: In Preston Sturges' Western Bad Day at Black Rock, Spencer Tracy's John J. Macreedy arrives in the title desert town looking for a man. Trouble finds him. He fights back. Tracy's superb performance combines old-school movie-star classiness and modern badass. Although he lost the use of his arm in World War II, Tracy still makes quick work of the thugs who stand in his way, using martial arts to take them down a decade or two before martial arts in the movies was cool.  

The Video Proof:

The Actor: Alec Guinness

His Age at the Time: 63

The Character: Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars

The Context:  Alec Guinness' performance in the original 1977 Star Wars makes those elaborate lightsaber fights and CGI stunts in the prequels feel redundant. All of the modern special effects in the world can't re-create the quiet nobility and and battle-hardened world weariness that Guinness brings to the part. It all comes to a head in the famous scene where he crosses blades with Darth Vader, standing toe-to-toe with the greatest villain in movie history.

The Video Proof:

The Actor: Sean Connery

His Age at the Time: 57

The Character: Jim Malone in The Untouchables

The Context: The man who was James Bond had a rough middle age. After leaving 007 behind, Sean Connery's hairline began to recede and his waistline began to grow. He spent a decade appearing in mostly forgettable roles, a shadow of his former self. And then it happened. He officially became an old man… and Badass Sean Connery 2.0 was born. Connery took home an Oscar for his performance as a Roaring '20s cop in The Untouchables, coming off as the toughest SOB in a roomful of younger men and bringing pain and mayhem to every henchmen who dares stand in his way.

The Video Proof:

The Actor: Liam Neeson

His Age at the Time: 56

The Character: Bryan Mills in Taken

The Context: In his youth, Liam Neeson was a serious thespian in historical epics and intimate dramas. He didn't become an action star until he was pushing 60. The sudden surprise success of Taken turned the star of Schindler's List into an ass-kicking badass overnight and he hasn't stopped since, appearing in Taken 2, The A-Team and The Grey. Picking just one clip was a shockingly difficult task.

The Video Proof:

The Actor: Sylvester Stallone

His Age at the Time: 62

The Character: John Rambo in Rambo

The Context: One of the unarguable highs of Sylvester Stallone's comeback as everyone's favorite geriatric action star is his fourth outing as John Rambo in Rambo, which finds Stallone's aging superman living a simple life in the Asian jungle. Naturally, Rambo gets pulled back into action and spends the second half of the film single-handedly killing an entire army to rescue a group of abducted missionaries. Stallone hasn't aged gracefully; he's aged into an absolute beast, with a torso like a tree trunk and facial crags deep enough to hide an arsenal. A young Rambo is a tough guy. An old Rambo is the toughest guy in the world.

The Video Proof:

 

The Actor: Judi Dench

Her Age at the Time: 61-78  

The Character: "M" in the Bond franchise from GoldenEye to Skyfall

The Context: How many people can look James Bond in the eye and completely dress him down? Judi Dench's M may not physically kick ass, but we sure believe she could. As the only woman who can put the great ass kicker in cinematic history in his place, she has a special spot reserved for her in the Hall of Badassery. A hero is only as good as the person calling the shots.

The Video Proof:

The Actor: Ed Asner

His Age at the Time: 80

The Character: Carl Fredricksen in Up

The Context: Is it cheating to include an animated character on this list? Maybe. Sort of. Kind of. A little. Still, the elderly lead character of Pixar's wonderful Up counts since the movie's final half hour is an extended action scene, with Carl facing down his former hero to save his new family of amazing, adorable oddballs. It may be a cartoon, but Up finds plenty of comedy in an elderly man forced into the role of an action here… but it's also surprisingly badass.

The Video Proof:

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Next Article by Derrick Deane

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