While the action movie genre gets solid additions from time to time, there is a certain magic that seems to be missing from a lot of recent entries.
For the uninitiated, the Expendables series and other similar nostalgia cash-ins are frustrating because older action titles that these actors are from are still so incredible. Maybe that’s why we’re so excited about Hardcore Henry, since it looks like an actual new idea, rather than a tired rehash of the same formula that worked for an older film, or film series at least.
It remains to be seen if this movie will be any good, but at least it’s doing something different. Let’s take a look at some of the other action genre defining movies that changed the game.
Any self respecting household has three movies they watch before Christmas: It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, and Die Hard (with maybe a chaser of Lethal Weapon). Why exactly? Die Hard is set at Christmas time (which is allegedly one word and wonderful according to that obnoxious Paul McCartney song), and there is no other reason that you need to watch Die Hard anyway. If you haven’t seen it, we’d suggest moving out from under your rock, but since you presumably have the internet, we’d less politely suggest that you actually develop a taste for movies that are good. So why is Die Hard a game changer in the action genre? The film masterfully pits John McClane against an army of terrorists, all while he spews one-liners that could make anyone develop a taste for them. Also, in addition to the four sequels that it spawned (quick rundown: 2 is OK, 3 is incredible, 4 is mediocre, and 5 makes us want to cry), the Die Hard series has also had a ton of spiritual sequels, some good and some bad.
Sorry about that last one, moving on.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Why T2 and not the Terminator series? Here’s the thing, the first Terminator was a great movie, but it’s Terminator 2 that showed that a sequel could really be something unique and outshine the first film in almost every way. The limited use of CGI also works in the film’s favor, which is a lesson that no one in the current decade seems to have actually learned.
The film is largely incredible because of its practical effects, though it finally seems like Hollywood and consumers are finally catching on with the success of Mad Max: Fury Road.
The Bourne Identity
The reason why the Bourne films did so well is that they managed to turn the unassuming Matt Damon into a hardcore fighting machine, that uses fineness and skill to take down his opponents rather than simply gunning down an entire brigade. It’s a formula that everyone decided to copy, including the James Bond films to a large degree of success.
While the Bourne films have been a good template for both the action genre and the spy genre in recent years, it will be refreshing when something new comes along.