You’ll all get to vote for your favourite action movies in The Action Elite Awards in February but for now here are my choices for the best of 2015.
I forgot to add The Force Awakens so that’s probably joint number 1 with Creed too.
I just know as soon as I post this I’ll remember something else but here goes…
20. Pound of Flesh
I got to meet Jean-Claude Van Damme at the world premiere of this movie so like Skin Trade it has a special meaning to me. There is enough action and a solid performance from JCVD to make this worth watching too.
19. Jurassic World
It didn’t bring anything new to the genre and was practically a retread of the original but when I watched it for a second time on my new Bose sound system a few weeks back I found myself having a blast in Jurassic World. The climactic dinosaur battle was massive fun and the 12 year old in me couldn’t help but smile.
I got to see Hardcore at a Midnight Madness screening as part of TIFF this year and I thought it was one of the most innovative actioners I’ve seen for quite some time. Sure the constant POV/shaky cam does cause a little motion sickness at times but it must have taken ages to put it all together and to make the story as entertaining as it was.
17. No Escape
This movie was mauled by most critics upon release and didn’t make much of an impact at theatres so I had low expectations for it. It ended up being one of the most visceral and tension filled movies I’ve seen for a long time with a solid performance from Owen Wilson and Pierce Brosnan being badass. Not sure if I would want to sit through it again but a film that can ratchet up the tension until the very end deserves credit.
I had no interest in this movie from the initial trailers as it just looked like Short Circuit 3; I suppose it is but Chappie has more R rated violence, a cool score from Hans Zimmer and one of the best CG creations in recent memory. This was much better than I expected and had some interesting characters too.
Kiefer and Donald Sutherland star in this old fashioned Western about a prodigal son who returns home to his father only to discover there’s an evil property developer trying to take everyone’s land from them. Standard Western stuff then but with great performances and a scene stealing turn from Michael Wincott. The finale is pretty satisfying too.
14. Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation
More of the same for this entry in the Mission: Impossible franchise but props have to be given to the fantastic plane stunt performed by Cruise himself. There isn’t much that’s memorable about the film aside from the set-pieces but it’s still an entertaining ride and I love Sean Harris as a villain.
13. Run All Night
I bet everyone forgot this movie existed but this is one of Liam Neeson’s better movies in recent years where he is quite pathetic to start off with but slowly becomes more badass when the life of his son is threatened by his old friend turned enemy played by a terrifying Ed Harris.
12. Skin Trade
Not a perfect movie by any means but I’m quoted on the cover of the Blu-ray so…. yeah. Kinda has to be on the list then. It will have a special place in my heart as I got to watch it on the big screen in Los Angeles with Dolph and Tony Jaa in attendance.
11. The Beautiful Ones
Although not officially released until next year The Beautiful Ones is directed by Jesse Johnson (The Package) who has crafted a stylish and slick action thriller with heart and plenty of bloodshed. You should seek it out when it’s released in 2016 and prepare for a wicked knife fight.
10. Close Range
I love when Scott Adkins and Isaac Florentine work together; they don’t have much to work with in terms of budget but they always pack a punch and Close Range is no different. Colt MacCready is an awesome new badass and I would happily watch a sequel.
9. Furious 7
Probably one of the silliest movies you’ll ever see but it sure is fun. Jason Statham is an awesome villain who is a little underused but his fights with Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel deliver the action goods. Has anyone ever brought down a car park by stomping their foot? Anyone? No, me neither…
8. The Dead Lands
This New Zealand actioner is all about the Maori warriors and is surreal, action-packed and well-acted. I wasn’t a big fan of the lead character Hongi, who felt too weak in parts but I loved Lawrence Makoare as the badass warrior who shows him how it should be done.
7. Bone Tomahawk
This is a little slow burn for some tastes but the Western genre is one of my faves and you can never go wrong with Kurt Russell. It’s graphically violent, tense and pretty gruelling but I loved it!
This isn’t officially out yet but I got to see it as part of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival; it’s an old-school action movie with a fun script, great cast and hard R action. Dominic Purcell was born to be an action hero and he earns the name in this movie.
5. SPL 2: A Time for Consequences
Tony Jaa and Wu Jing star in this exciting and action-packed follow up to the Donnie Yen classic. Although there is a little too much wirework, there are still phenomenal fight scenes and the riot sequence in the prison has some of the coolest music I’ve ever heard.
Marko Zaror stars in this underrated gem; sure it’s not got much in the way of story but it’s nicely shot with some bone-crunching fight scenes. A dude gets a hook in his face for crying out loud!
Everyone really loved Skyfall… except me. I don’t even know why I didn’t love it and I probably should give it another watch but SPECTRE felt like a return to classic Bond; its atmospheric score and lighter tone felt more like a Connery Bond which is just fine in my book.
2. Mad Max: Fury Road
This has been a very divisive movie and I can understand why people wouldn’t like it; Max isn’t the main star and there isn’t much in the way of story. However, the action is exciting and truly spectacular giving us visuals unlike anything we’ve seen before. It does lose a little bit watching on a TV screen so I’ll just have to buy my own IMAX theatre for future viewings…
It was hard for me to choose a favourite movie from this year and would this even be classed as action? But for me Creed was the only film where I genuinely felt something watching it. Mad Max was spectacular looking but Creed had real heart and a stand-out performance from Sylvester Stallone. The training scenes and one-take fight really stood out and made me cheer like the classic Rocky movies.