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Liam Neeson Is ‘Non-Stop’: 12 Action Stars Who Still Kicked Butt After 60

Liam Neeson Is 'Non-Stop': 12 Action Stars Who Still Kicked Butt After 60

This week, Liam Neeson can be seen in “Non Stop,” the latest
in a surprisingly active career as an action star. While Neeson has a history peppered with prestige films here and there, make no mistake, his most recent resumé consists of kicking ass and taking names. What no one mentions is that Neeson, who is soon
scheduled to show up in a third “Taken” film, is actually a spectacular 61
years old, which is impressive considering the leaping, punching, and growling
he’s done in recent years. Have you seen your parents lately? They can barely
open the door and hoodies terrify them.

Neeson, however, isn’t the first: there’s a legion of
cinematic legends who merely used 60 as a guidepost, not an excuse to hang it
up. Neeson has famously said he’ll keep doing this until they ask him not to,
and that’s a philosophy that’s been followed by a number of stars. Hell, some
of them became “Expendables.”

Here are a few actors who looked at 60, spat in its face,
and continued to play badass action roles.

Charles Bronson
His Career Pre-60: Charles Bronson is one of the hardest men
in show business history. Spending his youth in the coal mines, Bronson later
served in World War II, following his service by taking up acting. Soon, he
became the weathered face of a number of classics, popping up in “The
Magnificent Seven
,” “The Great Escape,” “The Dirty Dozen” and “Once Upon A Time
In The West
.” Eventually he became one of the era’s most in-demand leading men,
bringing his badass bonafides to “Mr. Majestyk,” “Hard Times” and “Death Wish.”

At 60: Bronson starred in “Death Hunt,” pitting him against
another all-timer in Lee Marvin. Bronson played an elderly trapper in the
Alaskan wilderness who finds himself locked in a battle of philosophies with a
Canadian Mountie seeking justice for the murder of an abusive trapper. The film
is noted for being a taut two-hander, and Bronson’s taciturn silence serves his
character well. It’s one of the rare action films where both men at odds have
distinctly respectable ideals, as Marvin and his team delve deep into the snow
to find their prey, despite Bronson’s survivalist consistently having the upper

After 60: Bronson almost seemed as if he was just getting
started. He spent the 1980s continuing to kick ass, starring in “Ten To
,” “Murphy’s Law” and “Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects,” movies which
placed a gun in Bronson’s hand and a guilty perp on the other end of the
barrel. The pictures had declined in quality, but Bronson had just gotten more
dangerous with age. He also continued the “Death Wish” series, to the point
where “Death Wish 5: The Face of Death” would be his final big screen film at the age of 73.

Clint Eastwood

His Career Pre-60: For a long time, Eastwood was a cowboy
day-player who filled in backgrounds behind stars. Soon, however, he would
become Hollywood shorthand for a man’s man, becoming the face of the “Fistful
Of Dollars
” trilogy, the star of “High Plains Drifter” and “The Outlaw Josey
,” and the iconic vigilante cop “Dirty Harry.”

At 60: Eastwood got behind the camera for “The Rookie” as a
tough cop mentoring hotshot Charlie Sheen. While Clint would do several action
films after this, “The Rookie” is his last hurrah as far as
physically-intensive parts, as Clint is frequently in motion throwing haymakers
and making daring turns during car chases. “The Rookie” feels like a comic book
at times, with Clint and Sheen cracking wise and nailing the bad guys, and it’s
maybe the silliest post-60 film on his resume, but it’s great fun for the
lowered expectations set, a serviceable actioner where Eastwood effectively
passes the baton to Sheen.

After 60: Eastwood became an Oscar winner for his very last
western, the classic “Unforgiven.” Beyond that, he would stay on both sides of
the gun in “In The Line Of Fire,” “A Perfect World,” “Absolute Power” and
Blood Work.” At 78, he was still a formidable presence to make “Gran Torino
more than just a movie about a cranky old man.

Sylvester Stallone
His Career Pre-60: Stallone rose to fame as the Italian
Stallion, achieving immortality as “Rocky,” using the underdog sports story to
launch an unmatched career in action films. With the exception of “First Blood
and “Nighthawks,” the films weren’t too sharp, but Stallone’s sloppy
mush-mouthed charisma allowed him to be larger-than-life, even when he played
against type in the underrated “Cop Land.”

At 60: Stallone had to wade through a sea of direct-to-DVD
offerings in order to finally secure the low budget financing for “Rocky
,” his sixth effort as the character. Stallone The Action Hero had long
erased Stallone The Director and Stallone The Writer to the point where it was
a surprise the sixty year old could pull off triple duty. As Rocky, Stallone is
slipping on a warm coat, and this is easily his most touching, low-key
performance. “Rocky Balboa” is ultimately more of a motivational speech than a movie,
but it’s admirable that at sixty, Stallone got sick of taking no for an answer
and got the film out, grossing $155 million.

After 60: Emboldened by the success of “Rocky Balboa,”
Stallone jumped at the chance to return to the world of leading men, uniting
the shiniest action stars of yesterday by kick-starting “The Expendables” as a
franchise, where Stallone would rub shoulders with legends like Arnold
, Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris.
Ultimately “Bullet To The Head” and “Escape Plan” didn’t move the needle, but
Stallone remains in improbable action hero shape, ready to impress once again
in this summer’s “The Expendables 3.”

Lee Marvin
His Career Pre-60: Lee Marvin was one of the hardest men in
movie history. When you saw his face, it was like climbing the side of a rock
crevasse. That personality suited him for supporting roles as heavies, though
he would become a star by his own right in films like “The Big Heat,” “The
Caine Mutiny
,” “The Killers,” “Cat Ballou,” “The Dirty Dozen,” “Emperor Of The
” and “The Big Red One.”

At 60: Marvin only lived to be 63, though when he hit 60 he
was seen in the obscure Italian thriller “Dog Day” that captured the star as
his most memorably salty. Marvin plays Jimmy Cobb, a bank robber who escapes
from a heist and hides out in the farmhouse of a seemingly well-adjusted
family, only to find out they have plans of their own. What could have been a
simple role-reversal thriller is in fact a layered, complex struggle, a
psychological war where the family attempts to emotionally seduce Cobb into
parting with his cash.

After 60: Marvin popped up in Chuck Norris’ “The Delta
” but that was a smaller role. And he did pay homage to one of his earlier
parts with the TV movie “Dirty Dozen: The Next Mission,” firing away until the
very end.

Arnold Schwarzenegger
His Career Pre-60: The most colossal movie star in action
history, the former Mr. Universe would go on to flex his improbable muscles in
genre classics like “The Terminator,” “Conan The Barbarian,” “Predator” and “Commando.”
Eventually, he made a move into politics, elected governor of California in
2003 and serving for eight years.

At 60: Schwarzenegger was still in office when he turned 60,
so legally, he could not receive payment for film work, resulting in tiny
contributions like motion-capture work for “Terminator Salvation” and a
speaking cameo in “The Expendables.” At 65, Schwarzenegger left office, and
finally joined the gang for “The Expendables 2.” Of course it’s basically a
creaky greatest hits package, but the elderly Austrian feels like he absolutely
towers over his co-stars. While Bruce Willis acts as if he’s popping in for a
quick snack, Schwarzenegger lugs heavy artillery and looks like the action
titan he really is in a sea of those who would strive for his throne.

After 60: Only recently returning to action films, Arnold
opted to play up his status as the King Of All Heroes, leading ensembles “The
Last Stand
” and Stallone team-up “Escape Plan.” He’s not shying away from his
age, but Schwarzenegger is basically showing up in group films where he is the
elder statesman, as evidenced by the upcoming “Sabotage” and a return to the
“Expendables” series. His shift into a more mature role (catch his awesome
salt-and-pepper look in “Escape Plan”) is similar to Eastwood, and if he keeps
in shape there’s reason to think he’ll remain formidable onscreen for another
fifteen years.

Steven Seagal
His Career Pre-60: Seagal was one of the meanest, leanest
action stars in the industry, and his fast hands made him the star of a number of
low budget action thrillers like “Above The Law,” “Hard To Kill,” “Marked For
” and his one A-picture, “Under Siege.” Seagal developed a reputation for
being difficult, and when his grosses began shrinking, he became isolated in
the world of direct-to-DVD, becoming prolific in that area even as stunt
doubles would do most of the work for the out-of-shape actor.

At 60: Seagal’s one effort as a 60 year old was “Maximum
,” a low-fi actioner that teamed him with Steve Austin as a couple of
independent operatives tasked with stopping a jailbreak. It’s typical Seagal
nonsense, but with a decent budget, and you can see he’s just a bit more
committed (maybe due to the beefy co-star). He’s lost weight for this effort,
and you can see a stronger focus on the martial arts and hand-to-hand combat,
if not exactly on the acting.

After 60: Seagal stayed in the world of direct-to-DVD, but
is diversifying: his “Force Of Execution” is a film where he shares the screen
with protégé Bren Foster as well as Ving Rhames and Danny Trejo. Seagal plays a
crime boss, likely a follow-up to the positive notice he received for playing
up the villainy in “Machete,” and he’s relying more on previously-untested
acting skills. A return from DVD purgatory could result from a few versatile
supporting turns, though he currently has a number of direct-to-DVD action
films lined up.

Takeshi Kitano

His Career Pre-60: Kitano, a renaissance man who started out
in comedy, shifted into filmmaking by accident, serving as a fill-in director
for the action picture “Violent Cop.” That film established his aesthetic and
on-screen persona, as a stoic badass surrounded by muted hijinks. His acclaimed
Yakuza films brought him fame, and led to his two biggest roles: as an
instructor in “Battle Royale” and the legendary icon “Zatoichi: The Blind

At 60: Kitano was in the middle of an experimental phase
when he turned 60, directing the avant-garde “Glory To The Filmmaker!” followed
by the melodrama “Achilles And The Tortoise.” But at the age of 63, he had a gun
in his hand once again. With “Outrage,” Kitano again played a Yakuza, this one
dealing with changing attitudes and weakening loyalties in his profession. It
features Kitano at his best, as a still figure in the midst of a tempest of
violence, quietly lethal when you’d least expect.

After 60: Kitano has since followed up “Outrage” with
Beyond Outrage” (or “Outrage Beyond” in some territories), a chilled actioner
that follows the events of the first film, but features even more
dispassionate, uneasy violence. Both “Outrage” films are strong, forceful
efforts that showcase not only a topflight talent, but a guy who will not be
supplanted by younger bucks.

Samuel L. Jackson
His Career Pre-60: As the world’s highest-grossing box
office star, Jackson has done everything. But, isolated, his action credentials
actually stand up to almost any tough guy in his generation. His early career
was dotted with sidekicks and background filler, but soon he was elbow-to-elbow
with the biggest stars in the world in “Pulp Fiction,” “Die Hard With A
,” “The Long Kiss Goodnight,” “Jackie Brown” and the “Star Wars
prequels. Few actors can match that level of success, and considering how much
Jackson works, it’s possible none ever will.

At 60: Jackson was just as energized in his sixth decade as
he ever was. In “Jumper” he starred as Agent Cox, a Paladin determined to stop
young teleporters from ruling the Earth, and it’s a surprisingly
physically-intensive role: you’d never guess by watching it that Jackson was
sixty years old. At the age of 60, Jackson also applied the iconic eye-patch,
becoming Nick Fury for a cameo in “Iron Man” that ended up being a lot more
than expected.

After 60: Jackson stayed active in a number of action roles,
including “The Spirit,” “The Other Guys,” “The Samaritan” and “Django Unchained.”
And at the age of 66, he’ll be taking to the streets in “Captain America: The
Winter Soldier
,” the sixth time he’s played the role, not including a couple of
television appearances.

Danny Trejo
His Career Pre-60: Trejo has a very colorful past as a
real-life gangbanger, a guy who everyone knew not to cross. A couple of prison
stints got him into rehab, where he was offered a job as an extra, and later
unofficial fight choreographer. A lifetime of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameos
followed, where he built his rep big enough to earn the attention of some of
Hollywood’s biggest filmmakers, developing a frequent collaboration with Robert
. Trejo’s considerable credits included “Heat,” “Anaconda,” “Con Air,”
Animal Factory,” “xXx,” “Reindeer Games” and a host of Rodriguez films.

At 60: Trejo’s earliest post-60 action role was as one of the
Unholy Two in Rob Zombie’s “The Devil’s Rejects.” It’s not a big role, but at
the age of 61, Trejo found himself joined with Diamond Dallas Page as the hired
muscle, six decades into a full life. In a movie filled with larger-than-life bit players, Trejo doesn’t get to do much, but his presence alone conveys so much, and Zombie allowed him to portray mean and salt-of-the-earth.

After 60: Ironically, Trejo is one of the few actors to
achieve his greatest success in his 60s. His friendship with Rodriguez
resulted in both “Machete” and “Machete Kills,” where he’s the star in the
middle of a universe of superstars, a James Bond of the barrio who brings
justice to the world and suffering to the tyrannical. Trejo’s been more than
busy in both theatrical and direct-to-DVD films, appearing in big studio movies
like “Predators,” art action pictures like “Modus Operandi” and independent
suspense movies like “Bad Ass.”

Harrison Ford
His Career Pre-60: Ford became one of the world’s biggest
stars seemingly overnight, thanks to both “Star Wars” and “Raiders Of The Lost
.” From there, it was a quick jump to being one of the most versatile
leading men in the industry. Through the ’80s and ’90s, Ford exhibited
his talent and conviction in “Frantic,” “Witness,” “The Fugitive,” “Air Force
” and two Jack Ryan movies.

At 60: Ford was still considered a major box office
attraction when he took on Kathryn Bigelow’s “K-19: The Widowmaker.” Alongside
Liam Neeson, Ford played a Soviet submarine captain trying to keep the threat
of war at a distance despite several malfunctions and tactical mistakes. Its
failure was the beginning of the end for Ford as a major box office attraction,
even if Ford looked physically imposing in the role. Looking back, it’s an able
suspenser, but not something that stands out in Bigelow’s checkered career, and
ultimately all parties involved rarely speak of it.

After 60: Ford continued to play leading roles in somewhat
lesser films like “Hollywood Homicide” and “Firewall” before grabbing the whip
and fedora again in “Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull” at the
age of 66. By 69 he was on a horse in “Cowboys And Aliens” alongside Daniel
. And this year at the age of 72, Ford will be suiting up with the rest of
the gang in “The Expendables 3,” suggesting perhaps that he’s the one actor who
has no interest in actually aging in his seventies.

Sean Connery
His Career Pre-60: Connery achieved immortality as James
Bond in seven films, pictures that established him as the ideal action hero,
both brutish and suave. Connery would go on to star in films like “Marnie,” “The
Man Who Would Be King
,” “Outland,” “Highlander” and “The Untouchables,”
creating a career out of playing strong-accented hardasses that didn’t fool
around when it came time to display real strength.

At 60: Connery was active as ever in 1990, starring in both “The
Hunt For Red October
” and “The Russia House.” “Red October,” the start of the
Jack Ryan films, found Connery as a Russian submarine captain attempting to
defect to the United States during the Cold War, and he essentially devours
co-star Alec Baldwin in the part. “The Russia House” was a romantic spy
thriller, meanwhile, and Connery was in top form seducing Michelle Pfieffer,
with no one acknowledging that the man was old enough to be everyone’s father.

After 60: Connery did not at all slow down, taking on
action-intensive parts in “Highlander II: The Quickening,” “Medicine Man” and “Rising
,” even suiting up at 67 for Michael Bay on “The Rock.” Connery had enough
enthusiasm and energy at the age of 73 to even tackle a comic book adaptation,
suiting up for “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” though that would end
up being the actor’s exit from the profession, retiring from screen work. He
has kept that promise for almost twelve years now.

Christopher Lee
His Career Pre-60: Lee was one of the great legends of
cinema, known for starring as Dracula in eight Hammer productions, and racking
up 136 movie roles before his 60th birthday. There is almost nothing
Lee hasn’t done, and that’s not including his many television credits over the
years. He often showed up in bit roles, but is something of a Zelig in the film
industry, building an empire all his own.

After 60: Age is no matter to Lee, who slowed down in his
early ’60s before picking right back up. Ultimately, he earned a legion of new
fans in his eighties, taking action parts in “The Lord Of The Rings: The
Fellowship of The Ring
” and “Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones,” and
continuing to show up in “The Golden Compass,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Season Of The
” and several others. This year, he will show up again as Saruman in “The
Hobbit: There And Back Again
” at the badass age of 92 years old.

Any elderly ass-kickers that get your pulse going? Is this a trend you want to see continue? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.

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