Despite Arnold Schwarzenegger announcing a huge comeback in movies this last year, he has yet to produce a real blockbuster hit. His first out of the chute, “The Last Stand”, all but bombed at the box office earlier this year possibly due to his personal life and changing tastes. But it’s clear that someone in states of power still hold out hope for The Schwarz considering he still has a number of films yet to release. The most recent one is “Escape Plan” where he teams up with former box office competitor Sylvester Stallone. And this one again goes back to familiar plot points to try and reignite what once worked for both of them.
Even if Schwarzenegger and Stallone look like better character actors in their older age, it’s hard to imagine Arnold doing a prison break film all by himself. In fact, it makes you wonder if he can really hold a film on his own as he used to be able to do. There already seems to be proof to it after starring in his only successful comeback so far in “The Expendables” franchise. There’s something about Arnold’s delivery that works better with a co-star.
What is it that makes Schwarzenegger work better with a co-star? Perhaps it’s his trademarked puns that he was known for in all his prior classics and hasn’t given up if you go by “The Last Stand.” Beyond that, it’s probably the contrast in speaking style that allows for tongue in cheek camaraderie. It was arguably brilliant to match up Schwarzenegger and Stallone together when they’re both known for their unique and sometimes hard to understand cadences.
Just who was Arnold’s best co-star in the history of his films? If you go by comedy, it would have to be Danny DeVito in 1988’s “Twins.” Those who saw that were convinced that Schwarzenegger could do comedy when paired up with the right person. The contrast in size between the two may not have been subtle, yet it was funny. It made Arnold look funnier than if he’d done the film on his own.
It’s too bad the long planned sequel to “Twins” has been so long delayed, despite hiring writers. Depending on the performance of Schwarzenegger’s other movies, it may never get made. Nevertheless, the pairing with Stallone will have to immediately stand in as a good alternative. They both seem to have mutual respect that can probably foster enough popular chemistry to continue acting together if both fail on their solo ventures.
There’s some irony there that Stallone also found resurgence in success by co-starring alongside others. Having other actors around him seems to offset the overly iconic persona we all know that can quickly remind us of a “Rocky” retread. Interactions with other characters also force him to be something different, which is what Schwarzenegger needs to be.
Will it be Arnold or Sylvester as the ultimate winner after “Escape Plan” presumably changes their film course? I’ve written about the power of two powerful people working together and how one usually fails while the other thrives. For the aging action star, it appears consolidation is the key to keeping everybody in the green with a producer co-credit. “The Expendables” franchise may ultimately be the only cinematic place left where the aging action stars we grew up with can play something more meaningful than a grandfather.
In that regard, The Schwartz will likely be back with interactive dialogue that hopefully goes beyond puns.