October 9, 2012

Action Breakdown #19: Quiet Moments

Hey guys! I have returned after a long hiatus to bring you another edition of the Action Breakdown because of high demand. Well, not really, but I’m still back for more detailed deconstructions of the action genre. This week, we take a look at the quieter moments of an action movie. The scenes where there are no special effects or people dying in extremely violent ways. Just two people talking and discussing.

These scenes are usually used for character development in order to further develop our hero, villain, or side characters right before a major action scene or cool down after a major action setpiece.

Of course, the most famous of these types of scenes is the conversation held by Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in the 1995 crime thriller Heat. It’s very compelling seeing these two men just converse seeing as they are bitter rivals just enhances the scene even more. Considering the classic shootout scene that happens afterwards, it certainly makes this quiet restaurant scene even better in context. Add two great actors like De Niro and Pacino and you have the makings of a excellent quiet moment in a badass action thriller.

Another conversation that gets a lot of praise is the Walken/Hopper scene from True Romance. This one is far more comedic in tone, but retains that looming shadow of something horrible is about to happen to these two. Again, it’s the casual nature given the extreme circumstances. It’s very tense and yet very lighthearted with the giant insult that Hopper keeps building up as he talks about Sicilians. It’s another fantastic quiet moment in a very violent and stylized action comedy.

The Dark Knight features another classic one on one conversation between Batman and The Joker. It’s almost like a chess game brought to life by these two extreme personalities. The Joker trying to break the Batman down while Batman tries to fight and maintain his one philosophy is captivating and suspenseful. Like the other two conversations, the scene is built up by some fantastic acting from Bale and the late Heath Ledger.

One conversation that isn’t mentioned that often is the walkie talkie conversation between John McClane and Sgt. Al Powell in the first Die Hard. McClane is starting to lose faith that he will get out of that situation alive and wanting Powell to fulfill his wishes if he dies while Powell gives his speech about killing a kid when he was a rookie helped build the friendship both men had as well have further build their respective characters. It’s a great scene that further supports why Die Hard is the best action film of all time.

Not all quiet moments have to involve two people. The inner monologue in Terminator 2 inside Sarah Connor’s head pondering how much of a father figure the T-800 has become to John Connor. It’s a quiet scene, but it adds to the character development of The Terminator, John, and Sarah while it also adds to the conflict Sarah has with these machines and her utter hatred for them.

These scenes are usually masked over by the great action the films usually have, but they can be just as impactful as any explosion. From Robocop’s small talk with Lewis in the warehouse to Rambo’s breakdown at the end of First Blood, it is always the small moments that can help make an action movie be memorable or even fantastic.

About the Author

My name is Omar and I love action movies. I grew up loving action films thanks in part to my father who would deliver a healthy dose of Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Willis, and Seagal in my movie diet. Ever since then, I continue to love the genre more and more and go along perfectly with my love for the horror genre. What other movie genre can specialize in giving you pure adrenaline and excitement in every turn?



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