Action films in the past decade have mostly been devoid of originality and style so to find the top ten action films since 2010 that have stood out as future classics has been tricky to say the least.
Gotta set some ground rules for this. This list is NOT going to include superhero films or war films, simple as that. Think of Leon, Die Hard, Speed – those are action films that are absolute classics in the dying world of pure action films. But which 10 films (in no particular order) since 2010 stand out as potential future classics to this author?
JOHN WICK (2014)
It’s a bizarre notion that we turn to a Keanu Reeves led film to revitalize the action genre in the 2010’s. To be fair though, Keanu has provided us with some of the greatest action films that Hollywood has ever produced, Point Break, Speed, The Matrix – looking at you here – and now John Wick.
With a franchise being spawned from one of the coolest action films of the past ten years it’s a no-brainer to include this on the list. I’ve gone with this over John Wick: Chapter Two simply because it set up the style of the franchise to come.
THE RAID 2 (2014)
THE RAID was good, The Raid 2 was phenomenal. Exactly the kind of film that someone raised on original Hong Kong actioners in the Nineties needed to feel that love of action films again. That this film was made in Indonesia on a budget of just 4.5 Million USD by a a martial arts fan from Wales (!) is a story in itself.
The Raid 2 had a better story than the first one, a more rounded set up, pay off and insane action set-pieces. The final fight in the kitchen is simply one of the most outstanding and brutal one-on-one fight scenes ever committed to film and it’s going to take a lot to beat that.
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL (2011)
Stay with me on this one. With all the JB’s lacking (Bond, Bourne, Bauer) it was up to Tom Cruise as Ethan Hawke to give us a big budget action piece that was actually good, great in fact. The first three were good films in their own right and the fifth was watchable but MI:4 really stands out as the one that is enjoyable on repeat viewings.
It’s a film with major set pieces that wouldn’t look out of place in a recent Fast and Furious film, however unlike the F&F films, MI:4 is story driven and never goes beyond the realm of contemporary realism. MI:4 makes the cut!
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2015)
I’m the first to agree that the central story is somewhat lacking but ever since the end of the original Mad Max trilogy we’d been hoping for another worthy addition to the franchise – and by jeeves did we get it in droves!
Kinetic action, superb acting (as grunting), incredible cinematography, frenetic pace and some of the most memorable action chases of the past decade at least. Whether this was the start of a continuing franchise, we’ll have to see but if this is where they stop for now then that’s fine by me.
Dredd was very much a concept piece, a one-location action film that could have been slotted in to any Universe and any theme. The fact that Dredd went with the concept is a low-budget stroke of genius and works better than The Raid: Redemption which had a similar concept.
Karl Urban’s Judge Dredd is very good, Lena Headey’s MaMa is a revelation and must solidify Lena Headey as one of the best go-to bad females in movies and TV in recent times. The slo-mo scenes are well made and the constant action through each floor is as visually pleasing at it sounds. Time will tell if it stands the test of time as an action classic.
Far from being a Nolanite – the term giving to worshipping fans of Christopher Nolan, whatever his output – I love Inception, firstly as an action film. The action scenes that appear throughout this film were as revolutionary in 2010 as The Matrix was in 1999. The similarities to the films are obvious with one reviewer even going as far as proving that Inception was a direct prequel to the world of The Matrix!
It’s hard to see another Inception-style film being made any time soon with a cast as strong as we got and action that was that damn good. Here’s to Christopher Nolan who sometimes gets it absolutely spot on.
THE MAN FROM NOWHERE (2010)
We’ve had American, British and Indonesian action films on this list so far, now it’s time for South Korea to represent and there is one film that stands out far above the rest of South Korea’s amazing action output.
The Man From Nowhere has a simple story – if you’ve seen Man On Fire or Leon then you get the gist of it – yet it is the action style, the brutality, the emotion and simply outstanding close quarter visuals that set this apart. Hollywood are of course already remaking this but then that is no surprise at all.
KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (2014)
2014 was a good year for action films and Kingsman: The Secret Service was one of the major surprises of the year. Yes, it’s based on a graphic novel but it’s far from being a superhero movie. Instead we get Colin Firth on fine form as the suave suited spy with a penchant for stylistic violence.
The major stand out is Sofia Boutella with blades for legs which is sure to please action junkies for years to come. But there’s two words that put this in action classic territory, so you need read no further than ‘Church Scene’!
Matt Damon is good but this is the Sharlto Copley show. Every moment that Kruger is on screen Elysium snaps and fizzles with awesomeness. The film does split people but the on-screen action is out of this world.
Neill Blomkamp’s class-divide sci-fi actioner is one that holds no love for traditional storytelling and for that it thrives where unoriginal pieces have failed in their longevity. I love Elysium both as an action and science fiction film and see underrated classic written all over this in years to come.
Sicario is one of those action thrillers that simmers rather than pops but it is in the build up of tension to each set piece where its brilliance lies. A superb cast and story fleshed out by the frenetic direction of Denis Villeneuve.
The drive through the Mexican streets is outstanding as are the tunnel sequences, the coming together of characters and the overall look and feel of the film. They are making a sequel to Sicario but it’s going to take a lot to stack up next to Villeneuve’s initial vision.
What almost made the list:
- IP MAN 2 (2010)
- HANNA (2011)
- SOURCE CODE (2011)
- BLOOD FATHER (2016)
- COLUMBIANA (2011)
- LOCKOUT (2012)
- RUN ALL NIGHT (2015)
- HARDCORE HENRY (2015)
- SKYFALL (2012)
What are your top ten best action films since 2010? Throw them in the comments below or comment on the social media pages.