Action movie characters were splendid in their halcyon years: fantastically large and well-crafted blocks of human flesh, vaguely animated by charmless, inarticulate souls (Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Lundgren, Van Damme), pitted against mechanical and rudimentary predicaments--ahh, such simple pleasures! It all had to change, though, for the same reason that a pint of heroin will be standard pre-school issue come 2070: Simply put, human pleasures evolve. Predicaments of old--kidnapped daughters, avenged deaths--gave way to the dynamic modern complexities of computer-generated matrixes and human clones; complexities that force a depth of contemplation and dialogue to which the muscleman is not akin and that expose his inflexible and anal nature.

In light of this problem, the recent box-office success of Steven Seagal's Exit Wounds informs of an important Hollywood watershed, simply because Steven Seagal is fat. He is an action hero, as physically imposing as any, but he has honed his obtuseness in a passive, natural manner, leaving time in his life to pursue the little things that make him feel special inside--namely, eating Turkish delights and deviled eggs and whatnot.

I envision a future in which obese action heroes are valued for their cerebral qualities and for sensational stunts involving angry midgets, armed to the teeth and hidden in the pockets of XXXXXL trench coats. Until then, however, the authenticity of the fat action man must remain his currency. After all, what's easier to believe? A steroid-popper--whose compulsive workout regime suggests deep-seated insecurities, bed-wetting, impotence, and repressed homosexual guilt--having the confidence to battle a platoon of unemployed Colombian hit men? Or a fat man--whose unrestrained physical wholeness is symptomatic of a psychological wholeness--finding himself driven to extricate his environment of its miserable inadequacies? I rest my case.

No man who expects to breach his life expectancy should fool himself. He will become fat; to deny it is unhealthy. Let's hope that the 20-million-dollar opening weekend of Exit Wounds sent that message directly to Hollywood, whose aging action stars will finally stop fearing adjectives like "jolly" and "paunchy" and just get about the business of beating seven shades of brown out of villainous types. Other interesting, fat action movies penciled in for release this year are John Travolta's Swordfish, Sylvester Stallone's Driven, and Seagal's Ticker. Watch out for a wider range of titles in coming years as the likes of Van Damme and Schwarzenegger opt for salubrious expressions of their respective lobster and cigar affinities. Bon appétit!