(Urf! Urf!) In proto-societies, I understand, it is tradition to leave the old to wander off into the forest to expire when they can no longer hold up their end of the log. Perhaps even give them a little shove when they get to drooling and gumming and carrying on about the prom and their first puppy. I can't imagine pushing Sylvester Stallone or Arnold or Bruce Willis out among the ferns and berries... not while they can still deliver a left that would drop a buffalo or snatch up any old automatic weapon to hand (apparently enjoy infinite magazine capacity if not any particular degree of accuracy) and waste a dozen or so T(wo)third(s) World ginks then inspire that look--we know which look though few enough of us may glimpse it in face-to-face communion nowadays, it being reserved almost exclusively for sinuous-lipped, three-day bearded, vaguely Baltic (Two)third(s) World ginks in rumpled blouses and lugging man purses--in the dilated pupils of nubile fee-males of the tight jeans, high-cheekbones, pouty lips persuasion. Stallone comes off the best of the bunch, the rest of whom if they still do their own stunts and still burst through the picture windows in slo-mo, remain a little leery these days about that shirtless moment. Likewise, if they do allow themselves to have seconded to them one of the above tight-jeans, high-cheekbones, pouty-lips sirens, they have the good taste to let someone younger (more sinuous and three-day-beardeder, rumple-blouseder and man-purseder) do the rubbing and settle for the above dilated, belated regard, unspoken wish they'd known one another twenty years ago (when Tiffany was an embryo and Arnold Number One Box Office in the Nation).
Well, okay. We've got a spate of flicks starring venerable icons of malehood, routinely panned by "critics," whoever they are, bouded by the Academy, and lately even dodged by audiences, testimony, I suppose, that an age of guyness passes tragically if irresistibly into mush: "Wherefore men fight not as they fought in the brave days of old..." as Macauley or one of them had it. The premise remains eternal: a wordless marginal, who harbors dark thoughts and the black-and-white moral conviction of primal oral cultures, gets provoked by some outrage to his person or his entourage/family, stews, steams, percolates, then explodes to exact protracted and disproportionate revenge from the malefactors in a ritual sequence working its way up through the ranks of miscreants to the Head Honcho, to whom a savage comeuppance gets administered gruesomely with a stake or a band saw or a tub of lye or a meal sodden with transfatty acids washed down with 16-ounce sugary beverage (yeeee-uw). Hubris, atê, nemesis, or as the Krau Germans put it: Fahrvergnugen, Schadenfreude, Umlaut. Monomyth. Economyth. Ironomyth. Iconomyth.