As Arnold Schwarzenegger navigates the world of movie stardom again, he's made a decision which I think will result in better overall movies from him, and it's a fairly straightforward and logical one: he is playing his age.
Action stars in particular have to face that moment at some point in the process, and how they face it says a lot about them as people. Schwarzenegger jumped out of films and into the world of politics right around that moment when other active action stars have to grapple with the choice and start trying to find roles that allow them to make the transition naturally. He sort of bypassed that moment, and when he showed back up in “The Expendables 2” and “The Last Stand,” officially announcing his return to major roles, he didn't hesitate. He is still playing leads, but he's not afraid to let them be older, a few steps slower, affected by the passage of time.
One of Schwarzegger's greatest assets as a performer has always been his 100% commitment to the selling of his films. When Arnold swings into salesman mode, get out of the way, because he can be relentless. I've always found that side of him ridiculously entertaining, because you get the sense that no matter how many hits he's had, he wants one more. He genuinely pushes for each thing to be the biggest and the best, and he's willing to work for it, over and over.
Last year, when “The Last Stand” was coming out, I went to a ranch north of Los Angeles and rode around in a tank with Schwarzenegger. This time, we did things in a slightly more conventional setting, and we talked about the aggressively sleazy “Sabotage,” the new film he made with writer/director David Ayer. It's a strong ensemble of younger guys all bouncing off of Arnold, who makes for a fascinating alpha to this particular pack. I'll have my review of the film up very soon, and we've got a few more interviews coming your way with guys like Josh Holloway and Joe Manganiello, but we had to start with the Oak himself. No one sells an Arnold movie like he sells an Arnold movie.
“Sabotage” arrives in theaters on Friday.