When the Lumière brothers terrified viewers with one of their first films, Arrival of a train in La Ciotat, which showed a train running through a train station in the south of France in January 1895, the shock was sparked by a new medium that could viscerally convey something that no other expressive form could – action! Suddenly the movement of human beings, animals, vehicles and forces of nature could be observed, and their potential as beautiful as they were destructive captured and realistically dramatized.
Filmmakers understood this from the start and have spent the past 125 years exploring the endless ways in which cinema can express movement – that of the visible subject as well as that of the camera itself, and how they can interact with motion. most strikingly with each other. There is a preeminent reason why the new form has been called “motion pictures”.
Action movies have always been with us and always will be. Levels of realism have reliably increased over the decades, to the point where special effects can make everything seem real, and the limits of feel keep expanding in a way that puts filmmakers challenged to come up with something new. “Action” in the broadest sense is indeed more widespread and popular than ever. Decades ago, it was pretty exciting to look for good guys chasing bad guys on horseback, witness believable car chases and gun fights, see medieval sword fights and not different lightsaber fights, or watching superhero clashes that look as real as an old Friday night prize fight.
The great action cinema immerses you both in the heart of the matter and transports you elsewhere. It trains you, immerses you in big and grand events, forces you to go mano a mano with evil or puts you in danger with terrifying situations that you would never have chosen to be a part of, but enjoy witnessing. second hand. At its best, action cinema gives you a load, an adrenaline rush that you rarely get from real life, unless you’re a very gifted athlete or performer. The popularity of other genres may fluctuate, but action movies that completely capture your senses for a little while never get old.
This is especially true these days, as many of us (while certainly lucky not to be sick and privileged not to have to leave home to work) feel restless, bored, or thrill-hungry during our 40s. . In the spirit of indirect excitement, I chose 21 superior examples of the genre, and while previous titles may not hope to compete with the newer ones in terms of boldness and technical sophistication, the result is consistent: the action takes you entirely into a situation where physical risk plays a major role.
Dozens of other films could qualify here, but the next one remains a little more important in mind. (And credit for a great help goes to my son, Nick, whose knowledge of Asian martial arts and action cinema far exceeds mine and has led me to hitherto unknown treasures.)