The third of the action scene trifecta has traditionally been the strongest. 2007 and 2008 saw great chases from Grindhouse and The Dark Knight. This year? Not so much. Perhaps I’ve just been spoiled by two years in a row with landmark chase scenes, because this year’s lineup seems a bit lackluster in comparison. Still there are some good scenes here. This has always been open to all forms of chase including foot chases, which were in abundance this year.
- Thanator Chase- Avatar: Early on in Avatar there’s a scene where Jake Sully manages to agitate an animal called a Thanator, which sort of resembles a big reptilian tiger. What follows is a pretty kinetic chase on foot through the jungle as Sully tries to hide, fight, and flee franticly. Finally the whole thing ends in an awesome moment in which Jake jumps off a waterfall and the camera follows him at neck level in the water.
- Road Block- The Baader Meinhof Complex: At one key moment in this German historical drama (which I’m hesitantly qualifying as a 2009 release), two members of the RAF find themselves cornered, knowing that they’ll be stopped at a roadblock. In a tough spot they run away from the scene and are pursued by police. One of them is captured, but the other won’t be taken alive, and goes out shooting.
- Ronnie Barnhardt Chases the Flasher- Observe and Report: After spending a movie obsessing over a flasher who’s been stalking his mall, Ronnie suddenly gets his chance to capture this exhibitionist. What makes the joke work is that the movie takes this ridiculous pursuit every bit as seriously as its delusional protagonist does. Rogen chases this exposed man in slow motion for a lengthy amount of time while a cover of Where is My Mind plays in the background, ending in a pretty shocking moment of violence.
- Race to the Bridge- Taken: As the generic-as-hell action thriller Taken finally comes to a close, Liam Neeson’s character finally learns that his daughter (who the villains have spend way too much time trying to keep) is being held on a luxury yacht. The only way to save her is to drive real fast against the flow of traffic and then jump off a bridge. While this against traffic thing has certainly been done before, the trick manages to still have some punch here.
- Motorcycle Vs. Helicopter- X-Men Origins Wolverine: You know it isn’t a landmark year for actions scenes when the likes of X-Men Origins: Wolverine is nominated in two of the categories. There’s some questionable CGI in this scene, but I do like the way that Wolverine combines his claws with his fast and mobile vehicle to wreck the hell out of a couple of vehicles.