How are you guys? Finally I am back with another movie discussion. Last time I did one I talked about the “logic” of giving Jamie Foxx a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role in “Collateral” when clearly he was the main protagonist. But this time we are not really looking at one specific movie but rather a genre of movies. As you can read in the title this is going to be about action movies and what is going on with them. Now let’s quit stalling and get on with it! Time for a movie discussion… about action movies! (Sidenote: I will refer to action heroes as “he” for simplicity in writing).
Action movies as a whole is a genre I gladly watch simply for the expectation and deliverance of high octane entertainment. Seeing a hero (or heroes) solve a problem through any means necessary. But what I have noticed recently is a decline in what makes action movies as awesome as they are not only as simple popcorn entertainment but also as really good movies. Let’s start with one of the main factors of an action movie, the hero. In an action movie you want a hero that is cool, can handle tough situations but yet is vulnerable and relatable in a sense. In most action movie these past 15(ish) years the hero is an invulnerable jacked dude who dodges everything harmful perfectly yet delivers a major smackdown on thebad guys without a single problem. Sure, the scene might be entertaining but since he is so unstoppable it looses its appeal and we will not care for the guy. A few perfect examples of badass action heroes who can take care of trouble yet are vulnerable are John McClane from “Die Hard”, Riggs and Murtaugh from “Lethal Weapon” and more recently John Wick in… “John Wick”.
A relatable hero is a requirement for a more engaging action movie.
Another thing to take into account in an action movie is… the action (duh!). For one it has to be intense to really get our blood pumping and show how badass it is. Of course I am not saying the action scenes should be shooty-bang-bang and explosions galore, but they need to have a lot of flair and intensity. We need to feel like the action is awesome and we need to know that it means business. I also feel like the action needs to be memorable. And by that I mean it have to sort of dig itself into out memories by being great. Some of the best examples of action scenes that you’ll remember after seeing them (for me at least) include any action scene from “The Matrix”, the badass action scenes from “The Rock”, the awesome highway action from “Speed” and of course every awesome battle in Ridley Scott’s classic action-epic “Gladiator”.
Memorable action scenes, they are not always easy to make but damn, are they awesome!
Next up that I wanted to discuss was something relating to the previous part and that is visibility of the action. What do I mean by that? Motherfucking shaky-cam. Whoever thought it would make every action scene better if they weren’t visible should get a slap in his face! Sure, sometimes it can be used in a way where it actually works in the movie. A good example of where the shaky-cam works are the “Bourne” trilogy, terrific action movies that still has shaky-cam. A few bad examples of shaky-cam however are movies such as “The Hunger Games”, “Alex Cross” and (unforunately) “The Bourne Legacy”. Shaky-cam… stop it!
Great cases of shaky-cam.
Fucking awful cases of shaky-cam.
Now of course I feel like I need to lay down my two cents on something that a lot of people (including me) have complained about when it comes to modern action movies, editing to achieve a certain rating. And what do I mean with that? Well by that I of course mean that they edit the movie and film it to be PG-13. Now that shouldn’t be such a big deal. But when they do it simply to get the movie more accessible to people because Hollywood likes money it kind of pisses me off. Of course I kind of get it with some movies like “The Hunger Games” where they maybe wanted to keep the movie within the intended demographic brought in by the books and the fact that seeing kids murder each other is kind of terrible. But sometimes you wonder “Why the hell is this movie PG-13?”. That is the reaction I got with movies like “Life Free or Die Hard” when the previous movies were rated R and with even more recently than that, “World War Z”. The final one is a fucking action movie with zombies and in zombie stuff we want our blood and gore! Of course I am not saying an action movie needs tons of blood and gore to be great, but watering an obvious originally R-rated movie down to a PG-13? Fuck you Hollywood! Now of course there can also be action movies that are PG-13 as well. Some good examples are “Inception”, “Taken”, the “Dark Knight” trilogy and of couse “Bourne”. PG-13 isn’t that terrible unless it’s used to only make more money… then it is stupid.
The bad side of the coin we call PG-13.
But there is still a valuable side to this coin.
Rememebr earlier when I said you’d need a vulnerable action hero? Well that isn’t the only thing that is needed when it comes to the actors. You also need an actor who can sell the role to us. They need to give off the feeling of “Yeah I am just a guy kind of like you, but I can do cool stuff too”. It would also be great if they maybe did some of their own stunts. Some prime examples of actors who can sell action roles perfectly who also do their own stunts (mostly) include Keanu Reeves, Harrison Ford and of course, Tom Cruise! These people have dedicated themselves to the action scenes they’ve done and done a lot of their stunts all by themselves. And when you have actors who can’t really do stunts yet they end up in an action movie, that’s one of the reasons we get the previously mentioned shaky-cam. The best example out of the ones I mentioned of actors doing their own stunts is Tom Cruise. The guy does everything by himself and never use a stunt guy (damn, dude). The best example of how awesome Cruise is like that is to look at his infamous scene from “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” where he climbs the Burj Khalifa. That is actually him climbing it, without a stunt guy. Also, in some pictures from the set he has been seen climbing the ourside of a plane because… he is a fucking awesome idiot I guess. I am not saying people should risk their fucking lives like that, but it would be fun to see them do the stunts a bit on their own and not just say “NOPE! Stunt guy, get over here!”.
Doing their own stunts? Hell yeah!
Where do I want to get with this? I love good action movies and it is sad to see a lot of not so great ones arrive these days. So I wanted to discuss action movies for that. Let me know what your thoughts on action movies in our modern age are. Also, what is your favorite action movie of all time?
To end this off I will share a link with you guys to a video by awesome youtube movie reviewer Chris Stuckmann where he talks about action movies. He is very good at explaining things and I hope you will enjoy his stuff.