The testosterone triumvirate of Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger are good for laughs, but Jason Statham is the last action hero in The Expendables 2
Until they find a genuine franchise vehicle for the Rock (aka Dwayne Johnson), Hollywood lacks a bona fide, standalone action star.
Those old warriors Sly, Bruce and Arnie are back in action in the weekend's number one flick The Expendables 2 but, truth be told, the real pyrotechnics in this enjoyable romp come from a comprehensive supporting cast of macho types and their rainbow of fighting styles.
With the exception of one notable British element in Lionsgate's energetic ensemble, none of these lively chaps can carry an action flick himself.
That exception is none other than Jason Statham.
He was solid in the Transporter series and after the considerable success of that franchise he seemed poised for studio stardom.
But his career, by and large, remains rooted in the independent sector.
Make no mistake, the Stath has carved out a great niche and is no stranger to the fanboys, but while flicks like Crank, War and Killer Elite achieve decent theatrical grosses, they tend to be stronger video performers.
This box-office behaviour plus the lack of A-lister looks and/or outsize ego mean he has never quite percolated into the public consciousness a la Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
And that's too bad, because Willis remains the only one of the testosterone triumvirate from the 80s and 90s who still seems believable in the right role: Sly and Arnie are clearly too long in the tooth.
Heck, even they don't take themselves seriously any more, as attendees at the Expendables 2 panel witnessed at Comic-Con last month.
You can't have action stars laughing about their aches and pains after a day's shooting; you wouldn't have heard such a thing from Rambo or the Terminator.
So the all-star package enabled The Expendables 2 to open top at the box office on a modest $28.8m (£18.3m), several million below the debut of The Expendables exactly two years ago.
Young audiences aren't falling over themselves to see this.
The best action these days comes – surprise, surprise – from south-east Asia.
Did you see The Raid? Full of new moves and a dynamic action star who can do things we haven't seen before.
Come on, Hollywood – find a big action hit for the Rock and let's get the gears turning again.
Speaking of action, The Bourne Legacy slipped to number two in its second weekend.
It's not quite getting the explosive word of mouth it deserves, although $100m is not out of the question for this intelligent thriller.
In its fifth weekend The Dark Knight Rises crossed $400m.
There's a suggestion that the Aurora shootings have dented the third Batman movie's impact at the box office.
Still, $409.9m after five weekends is a terrific achievement.
North American top 10, 17-19 August 20121.
The Expendables 2, $28.8m
The Bourne Legacy, $17m.
The Campaign, $13.4m.
Sparkle, $12m –
The Dark Knight Rises, $11.1m.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green, $10.9m.
Hope Springs, $9.1m.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dogs Days, $3.9m.
Total Recall, $3.5m.
Film industrySylvester StalloneArnold SchwarzeneggerBruce WillisJeremy Kayguardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies.
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