Action Movies – Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Action movies are the hottest thing at the box office. From May to September, you can count on at least two releasing per month. For the latest scoop on new action films, as well as information about the birth of the genre, current trends, fun lists, and more, make your first stop.

Action Genre Staples

These movies came into their own as a genre in the 1970s and 1980s. Now they’re a staple of blockbuster summer movie season. They have high budgets, mega-stars, and non-stop thrills.

Although action films fall into numerous action sub-genres , there are a few basic elements that appear in the majority of these films:

  • Strong male hero (with the occasional female hero)
  • Bombshell love interest
  • Big guns
  • Big explosions
  • Big fights featuring good old American fisticuffs or fancy martial arts moves (or some combination thereof)
  • Epic car chases, helicopter chases, plane chases, foot chases, boat chases, etc.
  • Physical heroism
  • Eye-popping stunts
  • Evil antagonist determined to destroy the world/kill the hero/steal massive amounts of money
  • Street smart hero
  • At least two big laughs
  • Optional funny sidekick who solves an important puzzle in a pinch

Action Movie Plots

The best action movies share similar plots, too. Basic plots feature either a superhero destined to save the world or a normal man driven to extremes by external circumstances. The circumstances are always life or death (no hero would blow up a building to stop the villain from stealing the donut, unless that hero is Homer Simpson.)

All of these movies can be boiled down to these central plot elements. The hero must:

  • Save the world/country/city
  • Save his family
  • Stop crime
  • Stop the evil corporation/billionaire/scientist/alien overlord/government
  • Exact revenge
  • Find the prize
  • Win the girl.

Sometimes the hero does several of these at once. John McClane saves his wife and stops a criminal mastermind in Die Hard. In Independence Day, Will Smith saves the world, stops the alien overlords, saves his family, and exacts revenge against the aliens.

Action Film Trends

The current trend in the action film genre seems to be that the more of these you can cram into any one film, the better. Add a dash of humor and a hot love scene for a complete film experience.

A newer trend revolves around the family action movie, which is heavier on the humor and lighter on the sex, but still features most of the same elements as adult action films. In National Treasure, Ben Gates saves his family, stops crime, stops an evil billionaire, finds the prize, and wins the girl all while cracking wise, spinning American history conspiracy theories, and visiting important national landmarks.

The most successful films often expand into franchises featuring the same hero in new situations. James Bond is the best and the oldest of the action franchises, but each generation creates a few new action heroes to thrill moviegoers and movie studios alike.

Blockbuster Movie Season

Action films are always intended to be blockbusters. They don’t always succeed, but raking in huge profits is always the goal. The bulk of them are released between early May and the first weekend of September, but a few are released during the winter holidays. It was once rare to see a blockbuster action film in the spring or fall, but it’s becoming more common now that there’s more competition at the box office during the winter action movie season.