I’m a big fan of Steve Austin and the raw style he brings to the broad spectrum of action movies. While I love elaborate action films and crazy Martial Arts and stunt displays, there’s something homely about good ol’ fashioned toughness and action doing exactly what it says on the tin. Delivering his Stone Cold persona and brand onto the screen, he pays homage to the somewhat vintage, back-to-basics qualities of old time heroes and villains, relying on natural charisma, flair and physical force to get the job done. For me, this stuff never goes out of date.
With his latest film Echo Effect on the way, once again teaming up with Michael Jai White (following their collaboration on Tactical Force), I realised we hadn’t seen a new Austin movie for a little while, which is a shame. His cameo in Grown Ups 2 was cool and offered a nice, comedic break from the norm, but nothing beats that bootprint-to-ass stamp of approval. Incidentally, I previously wrote an short article on Steve’s old-school action qualities and the progression of his film career. You can check that out here.
With what I hope can only be much more to come, these are my favourite Steve Austin films and roles to date. He’s done plenty, but I believe these to be the best, most fun and most badass from his repertoire.
5. Recoil (2011)
“Where’d you learn to fight like that?”… “From fighting”
Austin plays cop Ryan Varrett who turns vigilante after his family is murdered, seeking vengeance on the killers before setting his sights on the criminal underworld. In the past few years, Austin has starred in a number of DTV action movies but this remains one of his strongest and most entertaining from that set. Austin plays off against psycho gang leader Danny Trejo and battles bikers and gang members through many climactic fight and action scenes. The film looks slick and fits well into the revenge sub-genre.
4. The Package (2013)
“He killed him with one hit!” … “Yeah it sucks to be him”
Perhaps Austin’s best film in recent years, this understated action thriller sees Austin play Tommy Wick, a mob enforcer tasked to deliver a mysterious package to Dolph Lundgren’s big boss, with plenty of obstacles along the way. Mainly thanks to director Jesse V. Johnson and writer Derek Kolstad, what could have been a generic genre flick is elevated to being a solid thriller with memorable, quirky characters, snappy one-liners and some exciting action scenes. The Austin and Lundgren duo is backed by a nice supporting cast including Monique Ganderton, Jerry Trimble and the late, great Darren Shahlavi, so a great team all around.
3. The Expendables (2010)
“If you don’t tell me, you’re gonna die a damn slow death, do you understand?”
It was great to see Austin join the ensemble cast in Sly Stallone’s original movie from the franchise. Even in a supporting role, Austin’s Dan Paine got the opportunity for plenty of meaty tough guy scenes as Eric Roberts’ main henchman. The highlights were undoubtedly his brutal fights against Stallone and Randy Couture. In fact, many said that Austin makes such an imposing villain, it would be nice to see him do it more.
2. The Condemned (2007)
“Sounds like you’ve had a hard life… good thing it’s over!”
One of Austin’s first leading roles can be seen in this all-out action and fight fest going head-to-head with nine other convicts forced to fight and compete for their freedom as part of an illegal, televised sport. The film showcased plenty of unrestrained action and fight scenes (with choreo by Martial Arts legend Richard Norton) and the result is an unashamedly adult action film. It would be nice to see WWE Films venture back into this calibre and scope of action cinema – a theatrical, high production value action flick with an R-rating!
1. Damage (2009)
“I spent the last few weeks beating other men into submission for money”
My favourite Steve Austin movie blends underground fight film with solid drama, showing that even an action flick can (and should) have strong story and content. Austin plays the guilt-stricken John Brickner, imprisoned for manslaughter and recently paroled. He enters the world of bare-knuckle fighting to pay for a little girl’s heart surgery, the daughter of the man he killed in self defence. Backed by Walton Goggins, one of the strongest and most underrated actors of our time, Damage is a fight film on its most outer layer but a drama at its core, telling a story of redemption. This was a great role for Austin and I hope he has the chance to do more like this, demonstrating more strings to his bow.
Echo Effect is arriving later in 2015 and, in the meantime, let’s hope Austin has more film projects in the works.
Oh, and if you haven’t checked out his podcast, The Steve Austin Show, it’s highly recommended. You can catch up on episodes here.
In a world of ever-growing CGI and gimmicks, relied upon to fuel mass entertainment, he keeps it real. Gimme a hell yeah!