If there’s one thing Hollywood is usually willing to make it’s action movies, and as such this is usually a fairly competitive category, but this year even more so. Maybe it’s because there are a couple of action movies that have been accepted as prestige films this year or maybe it’s because the action movies on the sillier side of the spectrum really stepped up their spectacle factor, but there was something of an embarrassment of riches for action fans this year.
- ’71: ’71 fits well in a recent trend in post-Hurt Locker war films that are unafraid to delve into relatively recent conflicts and take them serious while also being willing to function like action movies and have fun with the action scenes along the way. Whether it’s the footchase that sets the film in motion or the tense cat and mouse chase that characterizes the film’s final third, this movie never lets up on the tension.
- Furious 7: This is probably the… stupidest… of the five nominees here, but scene for scene it’s also one of the strongest on a pure action front. It came out early and was somewhat overshadowed in the popular conversation by other movies that came out later but individual set-pieces like the chase in the caucuses are some of the best action scenes this series has produced yet and really fun and exciting to boot.
- Mad Max: Fury Road: George Miller has had the odd distinction of having made landmark action films within a single series but has pretty much shunned the genre at every other turn in his career, which is why it was a bit of a shock that he was able to return to his signature series on such strong footing. This movie is almost entirely composed of action scenes and hardly lets up as it goes from stunt to stunt but it’s almost never tedious in doing so.
- Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation: The Mission: Impossible series is for all intents and purposes a delivery method for action sequences in much the way tortilla chips are a delivery method for salsa. When you go to one you can pretty much count on there being at least two or three really solid and elaborate action scenes in which Tom Cruise risks life and limb for our amusement and this latest installment did not disappoint.
- The Revenant: People will tell you that The Revenant is pretentious, don’t listen to them. It’s perfectly possible to ignore the film’s environmental and historical themes and to simply view it as a straight-forward wilderness survival adventure film in the vain of The Grey or Apolcalypto. The opening action scene is right up there with the most exciting action scenes of any movie this year and even when we aren’t straight-up seeing people fight each other there’s a certain macho man vs. nature excitement to the whole thing.