No big budget action blockbuster these days is complete without an apocalyptic, face-meltingly loud battle that pitches the heroes of the film against an army of aliens/terrorists/forty foot robots. Total urban destruction is guaranteed, and the loss of thousands of lives is apparently acceptable to the super-powered do-gooder in question. Clearly, head butting apartment buildings until they fall down is the only recognised method of saving humanity.
This summer’s Man of Steel, for example, spent half a film reflecting on the very nature of humanity, and the rest blowing stuff up. Similarly, whilst it was fun to see RDJ banter his way through two thirds of the Avengers, it was easy to switch off once the film took its obligatory dive into Transformers territory (only this time with flying whales). Indeed, critics have placed the genesis of this plague of unthinking destruction on Michael Bay’s cynical cash in on our childhood.
So, has ‘Bayhem’ killed the action film? Is it the case that before the release of the first Transformers movie, battles were simply done better? There are very few more drawn out fight sequences than the end of Kill Bill, and Saving Private Ryan opens with similar levels of chaos and destruction to any modern blockbuster. Both, however, are clearly more engaging than dross like Olympus Has Fallen could ever dream of being.
But then, its unfair to attribute all the blame for dumb, explodey endings on Bay when such classics as Independence Day start with the White House blowing up and end with the hyper-advanced alien race being defeated by Jeff Goldblum’s USB stick. Also, the likes of Kick Ass and even this year’s Star Trek Into Darkness prove that the big, loud climax can be done well. Essentially proper action isn’t dead, we’re just fed up of watching CGI buildings falling down.