The James Clayton Column: The Expendables’ retirement plan

Sylvester Stallone and his fellow action stars are still blowing stuff up in Expendables 2, but what might they get up to in their retirement years? James has a few suggestions…

There comes a point in everyone’s life when they will find themselves empathising with Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon, forlornly sighing, “I’m gettin’ too old for this shit.”

At that juncture, they either need to call in help from a crazy young colleague to carry them through a cycle of buddy movies, or do the sensible thing: retire. When old age strikes and you start to feel the weary ache of advancing years in your bones, in your work ethic and in your attitude, it’s time to turn in your badge and gun (they gave you a gun?!) and call it a day.

Barring one of those ‘one last job’ jaunts, after they’ve handed round cake at the office goodbye party and packed you off with a commemorative ornament, that’s it for your career. Go forth and potter round your garden, enjoy a cruise around the Caribbean or take up crown green bowling. You’ve earned it after all those years with your nose hard to the grindstone.

Of course, some elderly people understandably can’t stand the idea of retiring and not being busy anymore. This is especially true if your life revolves around adrenaline, excitement and glamorous action. If you love your job and find that it brings fame, fortune and a certain veneer of cool, why would you want to give it up if, in spite of your mileage, you can keep it up?

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Sylvester Stallone – guru of screen violence and action movie icon – comes under that banner, and is undoubtedly one of those people who’d rather pass on the idea of retirement. Note the number of times he’s put himself through further Rocky and Rambo sequels alongside other heavy duty action flicks, and you can clearly see that the man is an insatiable personality who lives to be productive. He wants to shoot stuff, punch stuff and let out hideous war cries on the silver screen, not settle down for a quiet afternoon nap on the allotment.

Still, with Stallone at the grand old age of 66, I wonder how long this can continue. Sly is still in fighting condition and has the enthusiasm, with Bullet To The Head and The Tomb lined up for 2013 after The Expendables 2. Nevertheless, most people his age have by now started collecting their pension, and with 70 approaching, it’s worth speculating whether Stallone really wants to stand out as a septuagenarian action star.

The arrival of The Expendables 2 really resonates here, as it sees the director/actor sharing screentime with Chuck Norris, who’s an actioner over the age of 70. The blockbuster is also significant because of what it represents – the ultimate action movie enthusiast’s wet dream returning for another ridiculous blast of bullet fire, explosions, martial arts and testosterone-fuelled banter between veteran big names.

That expansive ensemble cast of icons is aging, though, and if the franchise rolls on, it will undoubtedly end up as a ridiculous running joke – an unbelievable action film series carried by obstinate dinosaurs.

Time marches on, and it will expose the need for an Expendables Junior division (Shia LaBeouf! You need some protein shakes, stat!) and for post-career plans for the individual A-listers now facing old age. I’m willing to bet that they haven’t prepared for it at all, but fear not, for I have come up with some retirement schemes.

I’d urge the assembled fogies to give up filmmaking and focus on the following when they’ve finished with The Expendables 2 and the other projects they’re attached to. It’s almost time guys, and we don’t want to think of you as embarrassing action grandpas. Plus, as you can see below, retirement offers some highly appealing possibilities…

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Sylvester Stallone

Remembering young Sly’s appearances in Capone and Death Race 2000, I realise that he looks pretty spiffy in a suit. Free from the threat of gunfire or stray fists in retirement, the ever-sporty Stallone can cast aside his war wardrobe and once more rock a tuxedo as he becomes a dancing king in his dotage. Taking up residence at Blackpool Tower’s ballroom, Sly will perfect his steps and go on to enchant old ladies with his galloping Italian Stallion quickstep before winning Strictly Come Dancing.

After that, it’s a series of phenomenally successful instructional films such as ‘Rambo’s Got Rhythm’, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll with Rocky’ and ‘Tango With Tango and Cash’ (co-starring Kurt “Rumba King” Russell). Clad in sequins beneath glittering mirrorballs and backed by a musicals soundtrack: it’s a beautiful way for Stallone to see out his days.

Bruce Willis

Yippee-kay-ay Mother Earth Lover! After a life of strife, trouble and trauma I’d say it’s high time Willis found some peace. After the action obligations of The Expendables 2, Looper and A Good Day To Die Hard, Bruce gives up gunplay for pacifism and adopts the refreshing alternative lifestyle of a geriatric hippy, becoming an extreme American version of Michael Caine’s character in Children Of Men.

After smoking a lot of pot and using a lot of spiritually-blessed patchouli oil, Willis finds his hair miraculously growing out and from there seeks pastures new as a nomad tree-hugger with a perpetual benevolent smile on his face. A toke between his teeth, a kaftan on his back and acoustic guitar singalongs of “Kumbaya” around the campfire: it’s a beautiful way for Willis to see out his days.

Dolph Lundgren

Morose without movies to make and perturbed at Sweden’s fame as an exporter of cheap mass-produced flat-pack furniture, Dolph Lundgren decides to get crafty in retirement. The former He-Man will take on a new mission: bringing homelier, more personable and authentic home accessories to consumers worldwide.

Building antique bookshelves, carving wooden kitchen tables and knitting fine throw rugs, the martial arts Master of the Universe reinvents himself as an upholstery god and in doing so inspires a mini-revolution in domestic decoration. Stitchin’ fabric and fixin’ up customised rustic fittings: it’s a beautiful way for Lundgren to see out his days.

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Chuck Norris

Finally free to drop the action redneck facade, the septuagenarian star of Walker, Texas Ranger now embraces his feminine side and has a sex change to become ‘Chick Norris’. No longer most famous for being an internet meme, Norris discovers new happiness as a sassy girl about town and spends his time doing all the stereotypical stuff he could never have experienced when he was operating as an icon of rugged masculinuty.

A cameo in Sex And The City 3 (for which he receives a Grammy nomination), long weekends of manicures and chest waxing and cupcake baking telethons to raise money for orphan epileptic dogs: it’s a beautiful way for Chick to see out his days.

That’ll keep ‘em all happy and distracted in their dotage. It’ll also stop them creeping back for a comeback in The Expendables 8. I just hope that steroid-pumped Shia LaBeouf can carry this franchise…

James Clayton isn’t too old for this shit yet. You can see all his links here or follow him on Twitter.

You can read James’ previous column here.

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