Long action-filled tracking shots, fast-paced car chases, an out-of-this-world crescendo of explosions, and hand-to-hand combat that would give any viewer whiplash — these are just some of the ingredients that make the action genre truly an exciting experience, whether you’re inside of a movie theater, or in the comfort of your own home.
When action sequences do their job, they can take you out of your everyday life and plop you right into the thick of the scene. These action sequences accomplish just that, with each scene being more exciting than the last.
Want to really jump inside the best action sequences? Click to Slide 10.
10. Bullet Time In The Matrix
When you think of The Matrix, you might think of the innovative technology the Wachowskis used to present their “bullet time” sequences, which rendered 360-degree scenes into motionless fragments where time seemed to stop for just a few frames, only to resume in full force. The sibling duo absolutely changed the game of sci-fi and how kung fu was presented in action when they hit the scene with the camera spin as Neo dodged those bullets on the rooftop.
Think that’s cool? Check out slide 8.
9. Saving Private Ryan’s Normandy Landing
We’ve seen a lot of war scenes shot extremely well, but nothing is as visceral as Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan. The scenes are so gory, so shocking, that when it came out, some theater-goers had to walk out because it looked so real. To this day, it’s known as one of the best war movies ever shot.
8. Die Hard’s Nakatomi Plaza Sequence
When you think of awesome action sequences, it’s hard not to immediately think of Bruce Willis shouting the phrase “Yippee ki -yay” as John McClane in Die Hard. We just had to include him on the list due to his historical presence in action sequences. In one sequence, our vulnerable cop just barely dodges a huge injury when he jumps from the roof of Nakatomi Plaza using a fire hose as his only form of life-line. The best part? When he crashes through the window on said hose.
Think this is badass? Check out #5.
7. Cliffhanger’s Pricey Air-To-Air Transfer
Sylvester Stallone is one of the most ubiquitous figures in action films. For decades, he’s built a career on creating some of the most enthralling action sequences of all. The air-to-air action sequence in the film Cliffhanger is no exception. Back in the early 90s, the cost for stunt was about a million dollars on its own!
6. Casino Royale’s Parkour Chase Sequence
Everyone knows that when it comes to action sequences, there are dozens of iconic scenes to call from in any given Bond movie. However, it’s the parkour chase sequence from Casino Royale that had viewers on the edge of their seats. Daniel Craig’s Bond pushed the envelope when it came to action. Even his on foot chases, our hearts were heart pounding, thanks to director Martin Campbell’s fantastic eye for thrilling adventure.
5. Kill Bill Vol. 1: The Bride vs The Crazy 88s
When it comes to someone who really has a specific eye for action sequences, you don’t have to look any further than the stylized work of director Quentin Tarantino. One amazing action sequence, in particular, comes from Kill Bill Vol. 1. During the sequence when The Bride fights the Crazy 88s, actress Uma Thurman’s swordplay is so intense she defeats rounds of men in a single shot. This sequence would blow anyone out of the water.
Think this is exciting? Check out #3.
4. Speed’s Bus Power Jump
Before he was Neo, Keanu Reeves had a career boost in the film Speed and became an action hero. In the film, he had to keep a bus fully loaded with explosives above 50 mph so it wouldn’t detonate. This movie featured some of the biggest stunts with an unlikely “stuntman” — a huge city bus. In one sequence, the bus, speeding well above 50 mph, made an outlandish jump over a highway.
3. Aliens Power Loader Sequence
The movie Aliens is one of the most iconic films in the sci-fi genre, but director James Cameron also captured a pretty powerful action sequence that made audiences gasp as actress Sigourney Weaver became a true iconic badass. In that scene, Weaver’s character Ripley takes a power loader exoskeleton to defeat the most terrifying creature alive – the Alien Queen.
We’re not stopping with this slide. Check out #1 for a truly jaw-dropping action sequence.
2. Lord Of The Rings’ The Battle Of Helm’s Deep
Lord of The Rings is one of the most cherished franchises due to its amazing storytelling within the fantasy genre. That said, aside from its brilliant motion capture sequences with Andy Serkis, Lord of The Rings is known for its battle scenes. One of the most intricate battle scenes took place in LOTR: The Two Towers. The Battle of Helm’s Deep is the largest battle in scale and in storytelling, which Peter Jackson pulled off effortlessly.
1. Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol’s Outrageous Stunt
One admirable thing about Tom Cruise is that he paved the way for actors doing their own stunts. Cruise has always tackled large sequences in action films and has completed some of the most dangerous stunts with the highest skill set of any trained stunt double. His most dangerous stunt was scaling the Burj Khalifa in Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol.
Without these ten unique action sequences in these beloved action films, we may not have the box office juggernauts that studios are pushing out today. While a lot of the focus is on quick explosives and rounds of gunfire (of course, those kinds of plot devices have their place in action sequences too), these directors and their respective stars put their focus on creating something that was visually unique and served both the story and the genre.
Think we missed an action sequence that’s worthwhile in your mind? Let us know what’s on your list!