After leaving Hollywood for Sacramento and enjoying a supporting role in The Expendables (2010) and its 2012 sequel, Arnold Schwarzenegger officially returned to action star status with The Last Stand. Released in 2013 when he was 65, the film saw the Governator play a small-town sheriff trying to stop a drug lord from escaping to Mexico. Unfortunately for the actor, what was billed as his triumphant return stalled at the box office.
Bruce Willis has continued to perform box office heroics nearly three decades after DieHard hit theaters. A Good Day to Die Hard, the fifth installment of the long running series, sees John McClane fighting bad guys in Russia. The film was released when Willis was 57 -- and there will be little break until his next action flick hits screens. G.I. Joe: Retaliation is being released March 28.
His muscles and dark hair might belie his age, but Chuck Norris was 72-years-old when he was seen kicking butt in 2012’s The Expendables 2. Norris boasted the biggest body count in the film, no small feat for one packed with action stars. "I deserve the most kills. I'm the oldest guy out there. I'm 39 with 33 years of experience,” Norris said.
Oscar winner Denzel Washington was 57 when he was seen playing an ex-CIA agent opposite Ryan Reynolds in 2012’s Safe House. In August he’ll star opposite Mark Wahlberg in 2 Guns, an action thriller based on the graphic novel of the same name.
Harrison Ford returned to big screen action with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) and followed it up with Cowboys & Aliens (2011). If he appears in Star Wars: Episode VII in 2015, he’ll be 72 or 73 when the film unspools.
Helen Mirren made manning a machine gun seem classy in 2010's RED, about a group of retired government operatives getting back in the game. The Oscar-winning actress will be just shy of her 68th birthday when RED 2 hits theaters July 19.
The man who famously thrived on performing his own stunts is still going strong. Chan was 58 when Zodiac hits theaters in 2012. The heist caper saw Chan leading a team tracking down Chinese artifacts. He’s also rumored to be on the wish-list for Expendables 3 and might star in a fourth Rush Hour film.
Jean-Claude Van Damme
Jean-Claude Van Damme was among the who's who list of action icons appearing in The Expendables 2. But to make things tougher for the 51-year-old star, he had the hard task of facing off against the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Chuck Norris as the film's villain.
An action mainstay in the ‘90s, John Travolta was 58 when Oliver Stone’s crime thriller The Savages (2012) was released. He’s slated to face off with Robert De Niro in The Killing Season this year.
After dipping into action with 2005’s Batman Begins, Liam Neeson officially reinvented himself as a certified badass with 2008’s Taken. He reprised the role as a father out for vengeance in 2012's Taken 2, which hit theaters when he was 60.
Mel Gibson’s adrenaline-filled roles didn’t end with his Lethal Weapon days. Gibson co-wrote Get the Gringo, which was released when he was 56 and saw the actor play a getaway driver fleeing police with a wounded partner in crime. He’s also slated to appear in Robert Rodriguez’s Machete Kills in September.
Mickey Rourke took a winding path from ‘80s Hollywood sex symbol to '90s professional boxer to action star. In addition to appearing in The Expendables (2010) at 57, he had roles in Immortals (2011) and Courier (2012). He’s got Java Heat slated for 2013.
Ray Liotta solidified his reputation as one bad hombre in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. And he’s upped the action with 2012’s Bad Karma (which he appeared in at 57), and the upcoming Mexican drug cartel drama The Devil’s in the Details.
Samuel L. Jackson
Tough guy Samuel L. Jackson had a banner year in 2012, playing the eye patch-wearing Nick Fury in 2012’s highest grosser, The Avengers, and a sinister house slave in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, which was released just after his 64th birthday.
Earning her action stripes early with the Alien franchise, Sigourney Weaver continued to prove to have what it takes with 2012’s The Cold Light of Day. While it didn’t burn up the box office, it gave Weaver the opportunity to play a gun-wielding CIA agent.
Steven Seagal has been at the center of a direct-to-DVD cottage industry for years, where the actor (who turns 60 in April 2013), recently starred opposite Steve Austin in 2012’s Maximum Conviction.
Like Rocky, Sylvester Stallone refuses to quit. At 66, he released Bullet to the Head, where we went axe-to-axe with beefy Game of Thrones alum Jason Momoa. Like fellow ‘80s action icon Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand, the film failed to perform at the box office, even though Stallone amply demonstrated his action skills aren't going into retirement.
Tom Cruise’s action chops have only gotten better with age. He performed many of his own stunts in 2011’s Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and showed that at 50 he still had a strong physical presence with 2012’s Jack Reacher.
Tommy Lee Jones
Tommy Lee Jones dusted off his the sci-fi-action skills for Men In Black 3, released when he was 65. The film also saw Josh Brolin sharing duties with him as a younger version of Agent K.