The job description of an action movie star is so odd. Take for example One Man Force’s lead star John Matuszak, who seems like he would fit the bill: as a six foot eight former NFL linebacker he certainly has the bulk to look convincing as a bad-ass, certainly far moreso than someone like, say, Clint Eastwood. But having watched A Fistfull of Dollars right before I saw this I can tell you that Eastwood is a lot scarier on the big screen than Matuszak. Also, far less boring to watch.
Every time Matuszak’s goofy face was featured in a close up he seemed less like a rogue bad-ass cop and more like someone’s dad pulling a silly face at a kid’s party. The only thing that makes him intimidating is his bulk and it’s too easy to lose sight of how bulky he is when you aren’t looking at him in person, or in a well composed shot that provides an obvious measuring stick. In contrast, every time they cut to Eastwood’s cold dead eyes they might as well cut to a rattlesnake; that guy can be scary even when you’re only looking at two inches of him. Even though action stars don’t need to be great actors, they still need to be able to do some acting to be watchable. You’d think that a guy who actually was frightening would be able to act frightening, but somehow he wasn’t.
That said, there is an element of physicality to being an action star that does matter. A guy like Tom Cruise is probably tougher than he looks; he seems like a tightly wound, very driven guy, and those people are hell to fight with, since fighting often comes down to who has a deeper urge to dominate. But even though I know that Cruise is probably a better fighter than he seems he still is a bit of a stretch as an action star because the optics on him are so bad. It’s hard to look fierce when you kind of look like Scrappy Doo trying to fight outside of your weight class. (Far and Away, I’m looking at you.) The charisma deficit works in Cruise’s favor in all the dialogue scenes, but you gotta admit that when Matuszak picked up a refrigerator and dropped it on a bad guy it was a believable bit of badassery, and that counts for something, particularly in this genre.
All of this should lead you to one obvious conclusion: I watched this whole movie and had basically no opinion about it. I mean, it was kind of bad, and it was kind of watchable, but it was mostly there. I suppose I could have just bullshitted something about the cat again, but it’s hard to segue from cat talk to mentioning the time that I saw a linebacker kill someone with a fridge the way the tornado killed the Wicked Witch of the East in the Wizard of Oz and I really wanted to bring that up. That part was cool.
Winner: The cat