By Sean Gardner
Fiery explosions, white knuckle car chases, gun toting, muscle bound heroes. Action is usually all about pure entertainment. But every once in awhile, a film comes along that has important themes, great characters, and of course cool dudes in sunglasses blowing stuff up. That’s what makes it one of the most popular genres of the film medium. Here is a list, in no particular order, of my favorite action films:
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
For the past quarter of a century Hollywood has been trying to make another Terminator 2: Judgment Day, cranking out three more Terminator movies since it’s release. It hasn’t worked out too well. In my opinion, it will not get any better until James Cameron quits messing around with blue people and gets back to write and direct this property. However, T2 is on most people’s “best action movies” lists for good reason. The brilliant twist of this film, is that the villain from the first Terminator, is the hero in this one. That makes the story is engaging and interesting. The effects are stellar especially the shape-shifting T1000. The only thing I will say against this movie is that the kid that plays John Connor is such an annoying little brat. It’s hard for me to believe that that dork is the future leader of the human resistance.
In the 90s Keanu Reeves was one of the biggest action stars in Hollywood, and The Matrix is the best of the bunch. This futuristic sci-fi thrill ride, directed by the Wachowski brothers, is one of the most original movies made in the last 20 years. It is also often considered as one of the best sci-fi films ever made. This film really set the tone for future sci-fi action films for at least the next decade.
The Raid 2
I like to put one obscure movie on lists like this to expose people to different styles of film making. However, that does not mean that this film does not belong on this list. Asian cinema is so advanced when it comes to action. This is not one of those over the top Bruce Lee versus Chuck Norris kung fu movies. It is a realistic crime drama about undercover agents and gang wars. The fight scenes in this film are so realistic. A big problem I have with a lot of action movies today is that the fight scenes seem too choreographed. That is not the case for The Raid 2. There is no shaky cam and quick cuts that make it hard to actually see what’s going on. The cinematographer locks the camera down and keeps the fighters in frame and all we have to do is sit back and enjoy the show.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Probably the most fun I had this year at the movies was watching Mad Max: Fury Road. Aptly named, Fury Road is high octane action to say the least. I have already talked at length about Fury Road in my favorite films of 2015 post. I will say that this film will probably go down with films like Die Hard and The Martix as one of the best action films ever made.
The Dark Knight
The first time I ever went to midnight showing was to see this film in July 17, 2008. The Dark Knight is still one of my favorite cinematic experiences. I have been a Batman fan since I was a kid, growing up watching the animated series on Saturday mornings. With the unfortunate passing of Heath Ledger, this film became highly anticipated and it did not disappoint. Ledger owns this movie. It is the Empire Strikes Back of this franchise. It is dark. It is gritty. It is arguably the best comic book movie of all time. It transcends the genre of comic book movies. It creates a sense of realism that makes you believe that this might actually happen in real life.