No. 3: Mel Gibson — Top Action Movie Stars
As of this writing, our man Mel is pretty well down, if not quite out. The 2000s have seen him end a decades-long marriage and fall into troubling times with allegations of alcohol abuse, domestic disturbances and racial slurs. It is hard to love Mel Gibson right now, but dammit, this isn’t a gossip column, this is a celebration of action heroes, and Mel Gibson is an uncontested king in this arena.
Gibson has been so successful in dramatic and comedic roles, as well as behind the camera as a director, that it can be kind of tough to think of him exclusively as an action hero. But his early roles as Mad Max Rockatansky in the ‘Mad Max Trilogy,’ combined with his unhinged martial arts expert Martin Riggs in the ‘Lethal Weapon’ series would easily be enough to get Mel Gibson on this list. Hell, a case could be made that ‘The Road Warrior,’ aka ‘Mad Max 2,’ is the greatest action movie of all time. But outside of those mega-franchises, Mel stayed at the heights of the A-list as a brand in and of himself. The 1990s just were not kind to the traditional action films, but Mel had success in ‘Maverick,’ ‘Payback,’ ‘Ransom’ and more.
Behind the camera, Mel crafted one of the most unique action films I’ve ever seen with ‘Apocalypto.’ And his Jesus movie? A box office phenomenon. And if you can look at some of his most recent endeavors, such as ‘Edge of Darkness’ or ‘Get The Gringo,’ without any of Mel’s baggage attached, I think you could make the case that the man still has it on the big screen.
Time will tell if Mel can pull himself out of PR hell, but with a massive Viking action epic on the way, I could probably be convinced to buy stock in the Mel Gibson brand. Lastly, one would be remiss to exclude a peek at the Oscars when discussing Mel Gibson. Very few of the names on this list are writers, actors and directors. Gibson holds two Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director on ‘Braveheart.’
“I’m going to pick a fight” –- William Wallace, ‘Braveheart’