When your favorite character in an action movie opens the door to a hidden cache of weaponry and stares at a vast arsenal of assault weapons, you know your character is about to take the fight to the bad guy for real. What you hope is that the character picks that one rifle you spotted that has the most tricked-out parts you’ve ever seen in your life.
Like what is that crazy thing on top of the gun with the laser, cool scope and all those accessories, it’s probably a customized upper receiver. Click here to get your own. A few of those M80 hand grenades from the arsenal stuffed in the character’s pants pockets wouldn’t hurt either.
Still, whether it’s firing bullets or grappling with a character’s nemesis atop a speeding train, the making of a great action scene requires careful choreography and planning and a host of professional stunt doubles to pull it off. Here are a few of the best action scenes you’ll probably want to sit down and watch more than just once.
What Floor Sir – Captain America: Winter Soldier Elevator Scene
When Captain America’s Steve Rogers watches as his elevator car fills to the brink with bad guys who intend to take him out, the suspense of watching him assess his situation inches higher and higher by the second.
Once the flurry starts and Captain America starts cracking heads, it’s almost impossible to believe so much action could take place in the confines of an elevator car. Simply watching Captain America as he, one by one, dispatches his assailants will leave you sitting on the edge of your seat in anticipation.
When he realizes the only way to escape is to plunge through the glass of the elevator and hurtle twenty stories to the ground with only his shield to protect him, you might experience a moment where you realize you’ve been holding your breath.
A Hall Pass – Daredevil Hallway Fight Scene
Any Marvel fan will tell you the Daredevil hallway fight scene is arguably the best action scene in a movie you will ever witness. This combat scene, shot in a single take, has a gritty ugliness about it that relies on perfectly executed choreographed stunts to pull it off.
What makes this scene one of the best is that it’s not only what you see but also what you hear. As Daredevil finds his targets, he enters a room and closes the door. Then you hear fighting through a closed door, and then a body suddenly appears as it slams the door into the hall.
Seconds later, microwave sails into the hallway, striking one of the bad guys in the head. Eventually, the struggle between Daredevil and this pack of ruffians takes place entirely in the hallway.
Another stellar aspect of this action cut is not that it assaults the viewer’s senses with thrill after thrill, but at one point in the scene, both Daredevil and the thugs stop fighting as they attempt to collect themselves. Then the fight continues until Daredevil manages to finish the bad guys once and for all.
This single moment where both hero and nemesis pull up short and stop before going at one another again sets this action scene apart from any of the other fight scenes comic book adaptations typically have.
Take The A Train – The Wolverine
Fight scenes on the top of a speeding train are standard fare these days. Even back in the days of silent moves, a fight scene on a speeding locomotive was not uncommon for action flicks. Wolverine, however, takes fighting on a train to an entirely new level of adrenaline rush.
The fight begins inside a car of a highspeed train where Wolverine uses sharpened claws that extend from between the knuckles of his hands. As quick as the flurry of action is, it soon becomes a mental game and an understanding of basic physics as he and his opponents do battle.
This fight scene is certainly not short on action, but it also displays the mental side of combat to the death. Any follower of Wolverine knows he has some serious advantages in a fight because his body quickly rejuvenates and heals.
However, this action scene isn’t about Wolverine’s ability to heal, although his opponents can’t. This action scene is fantastic because it demonstrates Wolverine’s ability to quickly assess his surroundings and force his opponents to make mistakes that ultimately cost them their lives.
Taking It Slow and Easy – X-Men: Days of Future Past – The Quicksilver Slow Motion Scene
This scene from X-Men Days of Future Past is undoubtedly one of the best action scenes you’ll want to watch over and over. What’s superb about it is that it has thousands of moving parts all happening at once, and because Quicksilver is moving so fast, everything appears to be happening in slow motion.
Additionally, the musical arrangement, Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce, is the perfect choice since Peter Evans, who stars as Quicksilver, can practically move faster than time. Quicksilver rushes around the room with the headset from his Walkman covering his ears, taking time to taste some free-floating soup in the air and making minute adjustments to things flying about, including bullets.
When he finally rejoins his group and stops, everything, including all the items he adjusted with the poke of a finger or a toss of a plate, resumes activity in real-time. Dishes and pots and pans clatter to the floor, bullets fired by the security guards miss their targets by scant inches, and every guard is incapacitated and put out of commission.
It arguably is one of the best action scenes in the entire movie as it allows the viewer to enjoy each dramatic aspect of the scene in advance. First in slow motion, and then again in real-time. When everything advances to real-time, the viewer gets the reward of watching the results of Quicksilver’s actions and seeing it play out just as we knew it would.
Another kicker to this scene is the expression on the faces of Wolverine and Magneto. Both men are staring at the mass of carnage in disbelief and amazement. It’s always chuckle-worthy because you, the viewer, know they’re probably wondering what in the heck just happened.
You’re probably telling yourself right now they’ll find figure it out soon enough.