Ask any movie buff name one of Hollywood’s top genres, and action is sure to come up. A perfect example of the mesmerizing escapism filmmakers can provide, action flicks thrill audiences with memorable heroes, terrifying villains, and thrilling sequence that illustrate why we go to the theater to see the spectacle on the were not for action movies as they have been popular for generations of audiences.
Raiders Of The Lost ARK(1981)
it is hard to believe now, but when Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were pitching Raiders of the Lost ARK, they had troubled receiving a studio to acquire in(even after the victory of Jaws and Star wars). Luckily, Paramount thought the project was a worthy investment, and audiences everywhere got a brand new action hero to add to the pantheon of greats: Indiana Jones. Using their love of 1930s and 1940s Movies serials as their guide, Spielberg and Lucas provided viewers with a fun and rousing adventure that delivered in more ways than one.
Already with Rocky Balboa under his belt, Sylvester Stallone added another iconic Character to his filmography when he took on the role of John Rambo for the action/thriller First Blood. In the movie Rambo is a Vietnam Veteran trying to get acclimated back into society. Roaming through town, he is accused of being a “drifter” by the pushy sheriff will Teasel and is subjected to unwarranted abuse. Triggering violent flashbacks of his time in the war, Rambo fights back for his life and freedom against the town is authorities.
One of the best sub genres of action is the “busy cop”, and this Richard Donner movie is one of the finest example of how to do the formula right. Even more so than action sequences, the characters is what set this movie apart from the rest (including its many imitators). Thanks to the irresistible pairing of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, Riggs and Murtaugh went down as one of action’s grating duos. The dynamic between the lose cannon Riggs and by -the-books family man Murtaugh was interesting to watch and added moment of tension even when they were not trying to solve their case.
Perhaps the finest pure action movie ever put camera, the original Die Hard is a classic of cinema that still holds up more than 25 years after release. Though the story is pretty simple McClane must defeat an army of German terrorists attacking Anatomist, it was groundbreaking nonetheless. One of its more notable aspects is its painting of McClane as a vulnerable action starring hero. Compared to his contemporaries like Arnold Schwarzenegger & Stallone, Willis was an every man principal we could all compare to. Every hit he took extract something from him – to the place where he wasn’t sure if he was going to get out of the building alive.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
The Director James Cameron upped the ante considerably when he returned to the world of Sky-net and made what is considered one of the greatest sequels of all-time. Always one to push the boundaries of movie making and Cameron’s movie was a watershed moment for Hollywood special effects, pioneering CGI technology that would go on to become a staple of the industry in the decades since. The T-1000 was a mind-blowing creation, seamlessly shifting shapes to give the T-800 and John Connors a suitable foe as they looked to stop Judgment Day from happening. The nail biting chase sequences pushed things to the next another level.
Kathryn Bigelow’s adrenaline filled and action packed thriller is noteworthy for various reasons. Introducing moviegoers to new action star Reeves, the movie brilliantly paired the laid back actor with the charismatic Patrick Swayze, creating a fascinating dynamic between their characters Johnny Utah and Bod-hi. Their relationship is one of the driving forces of the film, giving ‘Point Break’ some nice substance to compliment the action scenes. As Johnny got deeper and deeper into the world of surfing, his budding friendship with bod-hi was the source of dramatic tension, with the undercover cop’s actions being called into question.
Bad Boys (1995)
These days the name Michael Bay encourage dread in the hearts of many moviegoers and but his career got off to an exciting start with this buddy cop action comedy. Starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, the pairing blew public away with their comic banter and great chemistry. Not only was it groundbreaking to see two black cops take center stage in a movie like this, Bad Boys further subverted genre expectations with the film’s set-up.
Bad Boys was also Bay’s first foray into the realm of feature-length movie-making, and he immediately put his trample on the task and introduced public to his brand of action. Though not as outlandish as some of the films that would follow, early on in his directing days, Bay already had a movie grasp on slick visual designs, and his ability to helm big-scale action sequences was unparalleled.
The Matrix (1999)
Equal parts creative & revolutionary, the Wachowskis delivered one of Hollywood’s defining examples of sci-fi film making with The Matrix.The technology allowed the movie makers to push boundaries and break action movie conventions, as heroes could dodge bullets and bounce off of walls as they fought opposed their foes. Smartly incorporating the rules of the computer program at the film’s heart, The Matrix was able to give us something we’ve never seen before.
An interesting take on the hero’s journey archetype and ‘ The Matrix ‘ was wholly original & filled with concepts and ideas that instantly became a part of cinematic lore. Not only that, the actors were at the top of their plans. Keanu Reeves proved to be the best choice for Neo, and thespians like Hugo Weaving and Laurence Fisburne were there to lend a helping hand of gravitas to the project. If only the series could have been as awe-motivational.
The Bourne Ultimatum(2007)
One of the few instances where a series gets better as it goes along and star Matt Damon and director Paul Green grass reached new heights with this third installment. Further developing his mastery of the shaky cam aesthetic & Green-grass proved that the controversial technique could genuinely be an art form, immersing viewers in heart-racing action. The director also made sure to integrate fact, Experimental stunts into the business, giving us tense fight scenes that hit home with every punch. Like so many other entries on our list what really elevates Bourne Ultimatum to the top is the sheer amount of substance that Green-grass unpacked to make the movie interesting as well as exciting. Learning more about Bourne’s past was a compelling angle to explore, giving the movie some serious dramatic heft. It also didn’t hurt that the cast was in terrific form. Get back players like Damon, Joan Allen, and Julia Stiles added layers to their characters with compelling and honest performances.
The Raid: Redemption(2012)
The Raid was there to show action movie-makers how it’s done. A breath of fresh air when it was released, director Gareth Evans combined the sheer awesomeness of Indonesian martialarts technique Pencak Silat with sweeping camerawork that make viewers a part of the action. His techniques behind the camera allowed him to craft one of the best made action pictures (from a directorial perspective) in recent memory, as it relied more on practical stunt work than anything else. That’s what made it so ground breaking.
There are so many more action classics to pick from. And that we couldn’t fit them all on the proper list. Here are a few honorable mentions that just missed the cut:Any James Bond film With so many iterations of the popular spy, it’s compact to single out one as the “Good” since they’re all so different. Gold-finger and Casino Royal rank among the top.