Everything in pop culture builds off what came before, but sometimes it’s not so obvious exactly what inspired your favorite video games. Luckily game recognize game, and Source Code is where Playboy explores games’ eclectic origins and finds out what influences video game developers.
With massive explosions, crazy stunts and a general disregard for the safety of anyone within a four mile radius, the upcoming Just Cause 3 looks like the video game version of an action movie from the ‘80s or '90s. Which is why I suggest you watch some '80s and '90s action movies to get yourself psyched before Just Cause 3 hits stores tomorrow, Dec. 1.
But not all action flicks are created equal. For every classic Schwarzenegger shoot-'em-up there are two or three craptastic Dudikoff snore-fests. Luckily for you, I actually lived through the '80s and the '90s, and I was old enough to see some of these movies when they came to a theater near me. Here’s my list of 9 essential '80s and '90s action flicks you should watch to get yourself psyched up before playing Just Cause 3.
9. ‘ERASER’ (1996)
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Caan, Vanessa Williams
Directed By: Chuck Russell (‘The Scorpion King’)
U.S. Marshall John Kruger (Schwarzenegger) works for the Witness Security Protection Program, where he fakes peoples’ deaths to keep them safe from criminals bent on revenge. But after he saves the life of a computer programmer (Williams), Kruger finds himself to be the target of assassins hoping to shut him up as well. Which is why he gets into some over-the-top shootouts in a zoo’s alligator cage, at Williams’ office, and outside the safe house where he thought she’d be, well, safe.
8. ‘THE ROCK’ (1996)
Stars: Nicholas Cage, Sean Connery, Ed Harris
Directed By: Michael Bay
In an attempt to get his men the recognition and compensation they deserve, rogue Brigadier General Frank Hummel (Harris) and his marines take over Alcatraz and threaten to shoot rockets filled with deadly nerve gas at San Francisco if his demands aren’t met. So the Pentagon and FBI send in a team of Navy SEALs, accompanied by a chemical weapons specialist (Cage) and a former Alcatraz prisoner with the distinction of being the only person to ever escape the prison (Connery). But after the SEALs are killed, it’s up to the odd couple to Die Hard the prison and stop the rogue marines.
7. ‘LETHAL WEAPON 2’ (1989)
Stars: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci
Directed By: Richard Donner (‘Superman’)
Despite once again being too old for this shit, officer Murtaugh (Glover) is still working with his slightly crazy partner Riggs (Gibson). But while protecting a former mob accountant (Pesci), the two cops realize that a representative of the South African government is the head of a smuggling operation. Which, of course, leads the two to do a lot of paperwork and interviews in hopes of finding evidence they can use to bring the smugglers to justice. Sorry, did I say “paperwork and interviews”? I meant to say they shoot a bunch of people and destroy a ton of stuff, including a house on stilts.
6. ‘DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE’ (1995)
Stars: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Irons
Directed By: John McTiernan (‘The Hunt for Red October’)
In the third Die Hard movie, officer McClane (Willis) is forced to run around Manhattan at the whim of an unknown mad bomber (Irons). Aided by an innocent civilian (Jackson), McClane has to solve a bunch of puzzles in hopes of stopping a school from blowing up. But the realization that it’s all a ruse to pull off a grand robbery leads him and his reluctant partner into a series of wild shootouts and frantic chases all around the Big Apple.
5. ‘AIR FORCE ONE’ (1997)
Stars: Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman
Directed By: Wolfgang Petersen (‘The Perfect Storm’)
In an attempt to get their leader free from prison, a group of Russian terrorists, led by Oldman, take over Air Force One. What they don’t realize is that El Presidente (Ford) is still on board, and has apparently seen all the Die Hard movies, because he sneaks around the plane taking out the terrorists and foiling their plan while rescuing his family and most of his coworkers.
4. ‘COMMANDO’ (1985)
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Alyssa Milano
Directed By: Mark L. Lester (‘Firestarter’)
Retired Delta Force commando Colonel John Matrix is living the quiet life with his 13-year-old daughter (Milano) when he learns that members of his former team have been killed by unknown mercenaries. Well, unknown until one of them, his former co-worker Bennett, comes to Matrix’s house, kidnaps Milano, and forces him to assassinate a South American leader. But being retired, Matrix doesn’t feel the need to follow orders anymore, so he escapes and uses the time to rescue his daughter while killing a ton of mercs who don’t know well enough to just walk away while they still can.
3. ‘FIRST BLOOD’ (1982)
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Brian Dennehy
Directed By: Ted Kotcheff (‘Uncommon Valor’)
Seven years after being discharged, Vietnam vet and former P.O.W. John Rambo (Stallone) walks into a small Washington town, only to get harassed and arrested by the Sheriff (Dennehy). But when the cops start abusing Rambo while he’s in custody, he snaps, attacks the police, and runs off into the forest, leading to a massive manhunt. Suffice it to say, it doesn’t end well for the cops, who aren’t as adept in guerilla tactics as a certain someone.
2. ‘48 HOURS’ (1982)
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Nick Nolte, James Remar
Directed By: Walter Hill (The Warriors)
The goal: to catch escaped convict and cop killer Albert Ganz (Remar), who’s killing off his old gang in hopes of finding some money they stole together. San Francisco cop Jack Cates (Nolte) pulls a Silence of the Lambs move and gets Ganz’s former partner Reggie Hammond (Murphy) out of jail in hopes he can track down Ganz before Ganz tracks them down. Hammond is happy to help, although he really, really needs to get laid first.
1. ‘UNDER SIEGE’ (1992)
Stars: Steven Seagal, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Busey, Erika Eleniak
Directed By: Andrew Davis (‘The Fugitive’)
Essentially the “Die Hard on a boat” movie that Speed 2 really wanted to be, this action flick stars Seagal as a cook on a battleship. Unfortunately for Jones, Busey, and the other terrorists who take over the ship in an attempt to steal some Tomahawk missiles, Seagal is also a former Navy SEAL and martial arts master who, with some help from a Playboy Playmate hired to jump out of a cake (Eleniak), kicks everyone’s butt, saves the day, and gets the girl. Lucky bastard.
Paul Semel has been writing about games (as well as music, movies, books, and other fun stuff) for over twenty years. You can find him online on his own site, paulsemel.com, or follow him on Twitter at @paulsemel.
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