To me, an action movie is more than just the presence of violence and/or special effects. In my view an action movie must not only possess these things but be absolutely driven by them. For example, Rise of the Planet of the Apes ends with an action scene, but otherwise it’s a science fiction drama. Drive has two chase scenes of sorts, but ultimately it isn’t any more “action packed” than The Godfather or A History of Violence. Super 8 has a lot of visual effects, but the characters usually don’t act as combatants. None of those movies were considered for this award.
- 13 Assassins: One could argue that the action in this film is as confined to a climax as Rise of the Planet of the Ape’s action, but its epic finale is a lot longer than that film’s and it takes up a larger percentage of the film’s runtime. And what a finale it is. Had I disqualified The Tree of Life from the Set Piece of the Year award this would have been the winner, the final set piece is that good.
- The Adventures of Tintin: Steven Spielberg has long been a master of action cinema and his adaptation of Hergé’s Tintin comics show that this skill is still present when he works with motion capture as a medium. The film has a handful of very cool set-pieces like the pirate fight and the chase through a fictional North African city. The only thing it’s really missing is a sense of danger in the action scenes that would have really put it over the top.
- Hanna: Overall, I didn’t really like Hanna, but when it stops trying to be some kind of bizarre fairy tale and starts to be a proper action film it seems to have a lot of potential. The film really ramps up whenever Hanna exits “innocent youth” mode and enters the “badass agent” mode and The Chemical Brothers’ music really gets things going just as much as Joe Wrights direction.
- Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol: I began to feel like I was surrounded by pod-people when a lot of critics I had respect for got really hyperbolic in their praise for what I thought was overall a rather average film, however, there are enough very strong action scenes to be found here that it cannot be denied within this category. The Dubai sequence, the sandstorm chase, the prison escape, and the parking ramp fight were all very well staged and executed
- X-Men: First Class: While at its center X-Men: First Class is a drama about the doomed friendship between Xavier and Magneto, the film also has a whole lot of action in it. Between Magneto obliterating a boat, the attack on the CIA headquarters, and the final Cuban Missile Crisis sequence, there is more than enough here to please anyone looking for simple blockbuster thrills.