Action movies enjoy an incredible fan base. However, the very definition of action movies is somewhat contentious. After all, what makes an action movie? One could have a suspense drama with a few well choreographed action sequences or an all-out martial arts festival with ninety minutes of roundabout kicks and punches.
The way we can look at a movie and say with finality that it is an action movie is if the action is pivotal to both the script and the characters in the movie. For example, the scene in The Bourne Identity when Matt Damon’s character disables two security officers is vital to the movie because it informs him of the skill and ability that he has to nullify threats through physical force.
Action in an action movie makes the script move forward. So let’s take a step back and take a look at some of the best action movies made in recent times.
- Crank (2006) – Crank’s premise is simple. The lead character, Chev Chelios, played by Jason Statham, has been poisoned with a unique chemical which will stop his heart if his heartbeat falls below a certain level. In order to keep his heart rate up, Chev goes around wrecking havoc. It’s a strange concept. The deeds he does in order to stay alive are those such as stealing drugs from sick people in hospitals, purposely spewing racially charged comments in order to start a fight and copulating with his girlfriend in the middle of a busy marketplace.
- Casino Royale (2006) – It’s odd to think of a James Bond movie as a true blue action movie. However, Casino Royale came from a different mold than the rest of James Bond’s other escapades. It featured Bond, played by a heavily built Daniel Craig, performing Parkhour or the art of free running. He chases down suspects and targets in a brutal fashion quite removed from the suave nature of his predecessors. The focus was to enhance Bond’s reputation as a hard man and Casino Royale certainly brought out the tougher side to James Bond.
- La Femme Nikita (1990) – In many ways, La Femme Nikita follows much in the same vein as innumerable other action movies. An ordinary person is thrown into a life filled with adrenaline pumping drama. However, Luc Besson’s creation trumps other action movies in its subtlety and masterful storytelling. The story is told through a girl who is at heart a street punk who is transformed and trained into an assassin and the action scenes not only add to the drama, they create and solve the mystery of the plot as well.
- Mission Impossible (1996) – Many thought that adding the commercial weight of Tom Cruise with a critically acclaimed TV series would be a spectacular failure. The film was a success, a dark thriller which was both personally challenging as well as action packed. There is the famous break-in that the characters perform in order to infiltrate the deepest recesses of the CIA, the scene where Cruise runs out of a restaurant which is being flushed with aquarium water and a half dozen sinister murders which happen incognito. All in all, Mission Impossible is a great action movie which is slick as a thriller and works as a gut-busting punch frenzy.
- The Matrix (1999) – Is there anyone who would dispute the status of The Matrix and its later spawns as one of the forerunners of the best action movie ever made. The cyber punk fantasy was replete with physics defying stunts which awed the imagination with its perfect execution. Keanu Reeves’s Neo is now a cult figure and so is Lawrence Fishbourne’s Morpheus and who can forget the immensely hate-worthy Mr. Smith. Bullets being stopped in mid-air, Kung Fu and Ju-Jitsu being programmed into Neo’s brain, the film is a masterpiece of martial arts and cyber punk visualizations.
About the Author: Russell Alvin is a movie critic and a freelance writer. He writes across various blogs and web-based publications opining about the latest offerings from Hollywood. Contact Russell for information regarding the best action movies to watch on Direct TV in Fort Hood.