These days, thanks to the wonders of computer trickery like green screen and CGI, anyone can be an indestructible action hero. As this is the age of the DVD extra, we all know how these things are done. Rather than being spellbound by the latest feat of movie heroism, we're thinking "Yes, he's leaping off a skyscraper onto a jet fighter. But he was really just jumping off a stool onto a mattress in front of a green wall."
What's been missing, so it seems, is good old fashioned danger. But if you think actors who risk life and limb in pursuit of authenticity is strictly once-upon- a- time, think again. Real stunts have been staging a comeback and cinema is better off for them.
Silent era stars like Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd were the tip of the iceberg. They paved the way for manly figures such as John Wayne, Randolph Scott, Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood.
Born in 1898, Scott is a particularly stirring example of swashbuckler and feats of derring-do since he rode tall in the saddle well into his fifties.
Check out Movie Watch and see for yourself when these intrepid and athletic stars strut their stuff in our Saturday Night Westerns; Abilene Town (1946), One Eyed Jacks (Marlon Brando starred in, did stunts and directed this 1961 Western) and High Plains Drifter (1973).
But what about today? New Bond Man Daniel Craig has taken action heroism to new heights. He's introduced what is now called Method Action. Craig demonstrated that he was a man of action to be reckoned with in Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace (2008) and Skyfall (2012. Even before the audience had a chance to turn off their cellphones, he'd been through a car chase, a boat chase and jumped off a rooftop onto a moving bus.
Daniel Craig is by no means the sole practitioner of of this new breed of cinema heros. Other highly credible Method Actioneers include:
Set the mold with the Bourne movies, for which he did three months of boxing, martial arts and weapons training. Visibly did all the fighting, jumping and crashing of cars himself.
No stranger to physical extremes, Bale did all his fights and many stunts on the Batman movies (even though no one could tell it was him. In Rescue Dawn, he swung from helicopters and threw himself down rivers in the Thai jungle.
The daddy of today's Method Actioneers, Cruise did most of his own stunts for the Mission Impossible movies as well as the 2012 audience hits Rock of Ages and Jack Reacher including extreme rock climbing, dodging trucks, fists and bullets.
So Dear Movie Lover, not everything we see onscreen is illusion. Chances are that actor leaping from a burning building or rolling a motorcycle across a highway is actually executing the maneuver. Danger be damned! Hail the actors who still prefer to truly inhabit their roles, right down to the crunch of a body on pavement. These are today's movie heroes: actors with madness in their methods.