What happened to the one-liner?

Steve Tilley, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:31 PM ET

Yippee-ki-yay, they're back. Or are they?

In this summer's The Expendables 2, which assembles virtually every action movie icon from the '80s and '90s into one oiled-up, Botox'd mass of seething testosterone, we're guaranteed to be treated to some classic action movie one-liners.

You know, stuff like Jason Statham, disguised as a priest, deadpanning, "I now pronounce you man and knife" before dispatching a baddie with a blade. Or Arnold Schwarzenegger announcing "I'm back," the first Arnie has uttered a variation of his famous one-liner since 2003's Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

But The Expendables 2, like its cast, is a throwback to a simpler time. For the most part, the action movie one-liner is largely extinct. Where's a Die Hard "yippee-ki-yay..." for this generation? Or a "hasta la vista, baby" from Terminator 2?

Here are some reasons for the recent dearth of action movie one-liners.

Nobody's making action movies anymore

Aside from the inexhaustible oeuvre of the aforementioned Jason Statham, nobody's really making "action movies" as we understood them in the heyday of the '80s and '90s. In fact, other than Statham, it's hard to even name a modern, bona fide cinematic action hero.

One-liners draw too much attention to themselves

The second you see Arnold Schwarzenegger in a movie, part of your brain is busy anticipating the moment when he'll say, "I'll be back," instead of focusing on his nuanced performance and the film's dramatic tension.

It's the lightning in a bottle effect

When Clint Eastwood uttered the line, "Go ahead, make my day" in 1983's Sudden Impact, he probably didn't think it would become a catchphrase that would last decades. But that's the thing about the best action movie one-liners: they're not created to be classics, they simply are classics. Maybe we've just had a string of bad luck, catchphrase-wise.

Movies these days are too damn serious

Whether it's The Dark Knight Rises, The Bourne Legacy or the camp-free reboot of Total Recall, they all seem to take themselves dreadfully seriously, creating a hostile environment for the quippy, memorable one-liner. Speaking of Total Recall, we're desperately hoping the other upcoming remake of a Paul Verhoeven sci-fi flick - RocoCop - doesn't stick to this trend. If the reboot doesn't have lines like, "Dead or alive, you're coming with me," we won't want to buy that for a dollar.

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In addition to some of the classics mentioned above, here are five more action movie one-liners that simply ooze awesomeness.

"This. Is. SPARTA!" (300, 2006)

Awesome because: It's followed by King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) kicking the enemy's emissary into a bottomless pit. In slo-mo.

"Get away from her, you b----!" (Aliens, 1986)

Awesome because: It heralds the climactic womano-a-womano slugfest between Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and the alien queen.

"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum." (They Live, 1988)

Awesome because: It's delivered by none other than "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, just before he starts gunning down aliens in a bank.

"Get to the choppaaah!" (Predator, 1987)

Awesome because: It's a somewhat under-appreciated Arnie gem, right up there with "let off some steam" (Commando) and "consider that a divorce" (Total Recall).

"You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well do you, punk?" (Dirty Harry, 1971)

Awesome because: It's famously misquoted as "do you feel lucky, punk?" even though Eastwood's Dirty Harry never actually says those words.


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