By Josh Wolk
Updated September 11, 2007 at 02:00 PM EDT

Why did Clive Owen’s gun-fetish flick Shoot ‘Em Up (pictured) make a paltry $5.5 million in its opening weekend? How did the tease of “OWEN AND GIAMATTI, TOGETHER AT LAST!” fail to prove an undeniable lure? Was it the fact that 80 minutes of gunfire would seem overindulgent even to Ted Nugent?

I have a theory: It was because of Owen’s character’s name, Smith. Smith is an apple, not an action hero. A badass needs a name with hair on its back. The action stars of the ’80s and ’90s knew how to do it right, wielding names like Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis, The Fifth Element), Mac McKussic (Mel Gibson, Tequila Sunrise), and Jericho Cane (Arnold Schwarzenegger, The End of Days). These were names that were just one step away from being Ballsy McTestes.

Where are the he-mannish, two-fisted action names of today? Will Smith is supposed to be our biggest modern action star, but in I, Robot, his name was Del Spooner. Spooner? When you need someone to blast away robots, you don’t want somebody who likes to spoon, you want someone who likes to knife! And Shia LaBeouf in Transformers? Sam Witwicky. That’s not an ass-kicker, that’s a hobbit.

Sylvester Stallone had Ray Tango, Schwarzenegger had Jericho Cane:all you’d have to see is their driver’s licenses, and you’d know theyalso had a license to blow things up real good. There was a machopoetry to those names, so much so that they inspired me to write someverse of my own. Please enjoy my Action Hero Poetry.


Kit Latura, Ray Quick, Ray Tango
John Spartan, Lincoln Hawk, Joe Tanto
Frank Leone, Nick Martinelli,
Deke DaSilva, Marion Cobretti
Rocky Balboa, Judge Dredd, John Rambo.


John Matrix, the Eraser, Jericho Cane
Dutch Schaefer, Mr. Freeze, and Douglas Quaid
John Kimble, Harry Tasker, and Conan
And Danko, with the first name of Ivan

I’ve got one more dedicated to Jean-Claude Van Damme on my blog for good measure. How about you, PopWatch poet laureates? Anyone got a Mel Gibson sonnet?