Some moviegoers may scoff at the explosions, high stakes and cheesy dialogue, but action films offer some of the most visually immersive film experiences available. Because as compelling as a three-hour character study can be, sometimes you just want to watch a few things fly—and there’s no shame in that. The occasional violent brawl or high-speed chase through the back streets of a busy European city is no problem on the biggest screen. To escape the nine-to-five routine, action films are always there for us.
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But when you reduce it to mere entertainment that’s all about building muscle, the whole genre changes. Great choreography and well-written action, like any drama or thriller, can make you think, think and feel, and a perfectly staged play can evoke emotions that even romance or horror can’t match. Some of our top 100 action movies pack plenty of subtext; Other, more weighty political influences. But even when they’re just silly fun, they do what movies do best: entertain and shock. To put together this list, we interviewed over 50 experts in the field, from Die Hard director John McTiernan to Machete himself and Danny Trejo to ourselves.
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The authors’ results show that a genre is flexible and versatile – and in many cases even more fun. Get ready because we are about to experience a boom.
Written by Eddie Frankel, Eddie Frankel, Yun Su, Joshua Rothkopf, Trevor Johnston, Ashley Clark, Grady Hendricks, Tom Huddleston, Keith Ulich, Dave Calhoun, Phil De Semlin, Dave Calhoun and Matthew Singer
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So here it is. Location number 1, top of the skyscraper. The perfect action film. But it does
Does it really fit? It says nothing about the state of the world. It doesn’t offer much insight into the human condition (although the image of Bruce Willis walking on broken glass can be understood as a slight metaphor for life’s small cruelties). This isn’t exactly what Suds calls high art.
That’s exactly the point of it all. If cinema is the perfect medium of escape – and it will be until someone invents a working virtual reality device – then action films are humanity’s purest expression of escape from the clutches of reality. The best way is to relax. and bring it to the ether. We don’t want reflection, we don’t want understanding, honesty or intellectual insight. We want speed and intensity, wit and intelligence, cartoon violence and boom things. we would like to
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The story is so clever that it’s unbelievable that no one has thought of it before: a group of terrorists attacks a state-of-the-art skyscraper and takes the residents hostage. Their only hope is a man imprisoned with them but still able to move freely, a lone hero who must take out the bad guys one by one, arcade game style, until he reaches Big Boss. Sure, there are precedents – “Assault on Precinct 13” has to be a set favorite – but no one has told this story with such smooth precision before. It’s no coincidence that in the wake of the film’s success, clones began popping up like toadstools almost overnight.
A perfect example of how everything fits. John McTiernan’s direction is uncompromising, and there are sequences – like the oft-imitated, ever-improving swinging-through-a-window-on-a-firehose moment – that achieve something close to visual poetry. The script is full of humor and ingenuity, and whoever came up with the idea of setting it to music at Christmas deserves a big medal. But of course the main winner in all of this has to be Bruce Willis, who crashed out of nowhere (well, off TV).
) on the world stage, thanks to a combination of defiant self-deprecation, battered but unabashed mockery, and a very dirty T-shirt.
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“Mothers and Gunpowder” When James Cameron stepped into Ridley Scott’s space-horror boots to direct the sequel to the excellent “Alien,” he didn’t try to scream out the sick, crazy slow-motion of the original. He just said, “Fuck this subtle shit,” and put a lot of emphasis on explosions, a lot of emphasis on aliens, and let the weapons (and mech robots) do the talking. Where before there was endless space horror and gravity, there is now pure action on the big screen. Cameron was a relative newcomer at the time, having only directed The Terminator before, but he embraced the big-budget work with enthusiasm.
Sigourney Weaver must once again face an enemy with many teeth, this time in an abandoned space colony, but now she’s surrounded by weapons-laden Marines who kick ass and don’t take names. She’s hell-bent on hell. like this
The plot revolves around a male-dominated corporation’s obsession with developing bioweapons, regardless of the human cost. Yes, it’s an allegory for the evils of big business, and sure, it’s a powerful story about the power of the female voice in a man’s world, but we all know what you’re here for: Ripley’s Around Destroy a giant mechanical suit and some shockingly phallic alien villains roaming around. And it is wonderful.—
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If you’ve never seen a Kurosawa film and are wondering why he’s so highly regarded, this classic is all the proof you need – not least because he made Hollywood’s most famous film. It was inspired by the popular, if somewhat simplified, remake, The Magnificent Seven. . With a running time of over 200 minutes, it is also a prime example of how to make the plot more meaningful as you become fully immersed in the characters’ lives. We truly feel the fear and hunger of the vulnerable farmers, so desperate to protect their new crops that they pay mercenary samurai with their last grains of rice. You also feel the desperation of a homeless ronin who is willing to take the job because it means room and board, at least for a while.
Kurosawa takes an hour to show us what’s at stake, and another hour to show how wise leader Takashi Shimura, fugitive would-be samurai Toshiro Mifune, and their cohorts plan to stop their marauding enemies. However, when the action begins, the ebb and flow of the strategy is far more exciting, the losses are high, and the payoff is more intense. Making a film of this breadth and depth requires courage, intelligence and formal skills to bring your desires to the screen. The dynamic energy with which Kurosawa’s mobile camera keeps us in the middle of some hair-raising stunts and near-war collisions was absolutely vital in its time and is simply missing. Every action film since has owed him much, expanding space and movement into the world of big cinema.—
The killer scene: One of the herd sees her clever ex-lover laughing in the arms of a fat general – jealousy overwhelms her and bloodshed ensues.
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It’s now common to speak of Sam Peckinpah’s classic as the tombstone of the Western genre, the moment when Hollywood’s already tired tradition of white-hat heroism inevitably devolved into nihilism, apocalypse and zero-sum catharsis. Then again, no other Western has proven that he is as able to appeal to the modern or younger generation as this one. (It’s not for nothing that The Wild Bunch was by far the highest-rated otter on our list.) Maybe it’s time to reconsider:
It is still very much alive in every film that sheds rivers of blood in the name of brotherhood, in every action film that grapples with current political complexities amid spent gunpowder casings and stilted epitaphs.
When the film was made, the Vietnam War was raging, and Peckinpah used these metaphorical references in the hope of giving viewers the same footage they saw on the evening news. Call it a sign of his virtuosity (or naivety) that the film received a polarized reaction, with some hailing it as a masterpiece and others pointing out that it was a sign of a bankrupt art form. “The Wild Bunch” is brilliant in its unfounded malaise, the almighty dollar driving good men to ruin and weaker men to mercenary rewards. It reflects some of the director’s own struggles in Hollywood, but above all is a testament to sincerity: Go into the darkness, go into the depths, and true action fans will follow you to the end of the disaster.—
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You have to go back to the silent film era of Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton to find the equivalent of Jackie Chan in his Hong Kong heyday – a star who risked life and limb to get the reception he wanted, according to The Saying today
Presents relatively risk-free challenges, but Chan’s peak in the ’80s adds another level of insanity. Yes, that’s actually his spirited soldier hanging from an umbrella on a moving double-decker bus.
S opening salvo slipped in a bone-crushing fall. (A few moments later the stuntmen fall
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