The Best Action Movies in 2020 were much different than anticipated, but some stellar action movies still managed to be released in the year. In recent years, Franchise action films have been much more important to Hollywood, but 2020 has been a year with far less than anticipated. Any of the year’s biggest blockbusters is postponed until 2021, due to the coronavirus pandemic closing down theaters across the globe.
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List of Top 10 Best Action Movies in 2020
It does not come as a surprise to see Tenet as 2020’s best action picture. The time-manipulative blockbuster by Christopher Nolan may have a storyline that may leave some puzzled, but the violence on show throughout is completely nuts. Nolan has always been a strong action director, but Tenet has the strongest and finest scenes he’s ever made, and some of the most imaginative cinematic set pieces he’s ever made. Thanks to consulting stunt coordinators George Cottle and Amar Shetty and fight coordinator Jackson Spidell, just about every single moment of action featured in Tenet is something to behold. It is exciting for The Protagonist (John David Washington) to violently beat down henchmen in a kitchen. In the meantime, everything from the reverse battle to the aircraft that they literally literally crashed to film the heist of the airport will leave fans at the edge of their seats. And if all that wasn’t amazing enough, the size and sophistication of the third act by Tenet is almost unprecedented. Tenet is far from a flawless film, but it’s still one of the best of the year, and when it comes to the action on show here, Nolan hardly misses a beat.
The return of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as Bad Boys for Life defied any predictions. The franchise was infused with a stronger plot and arcs for Mike and Marcus by managers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, which was not the strong point of the previous iterations of Michael Bay. They did, however, manage to recapture the fun and explosiveness of the hallmark eye for action of Bay. Thanks to Mike Gunther, the stunt supervisor and second unit director, Bad Boys for Life is packed with a number of excellent action scenes. A highlight is the big car/motorcycle chase in the centre, and for most of the cast, the third act also offers memorable moments. Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Paola Nuñez, Charles Melton, and Jacob Scipio all get moments to shine while Smith is the action star here.
03. Birds of Prey
In 2020, with the arrival of Birds of Prey, the DCEU helped bring some of the best action to theaters (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). As an action star here, Margot Robbie was given the chance to demonstrate some of her prowess and was routinely at the forefront of the best battle scenes in the film. In addition to having some of the best battle choreography in the film, Harley Quinn’s breaking into the police station was visually spectacular. With the team-up between Harley and the Birds of Prey in the third act offering excellent action, humor, and character work, there are several other great scenes, too. Most of the credit should rightly go to producer Cathy Yan, but special thanks are also deserved for Chad Stahelski, who helped strengthen the action of choreographer Jon Valera and stunt coordinator Jonathan ‘Jo Jo’ Eusebio after principal photography and imaginative action.
The Invisible Man is far from a pure action movie, but some entertaining scenes were still provided by director Leigh Whannell. Following the hard-hitting action in Update, Whannell used his film’s premise again to stage fantastic moments of action. Having an unseen figure at the middle of the action allowed him the power to visually distinguish the action of The Invisible Man from the action. The excellent combat sequence in The Invisible Man must be the titular invisible man, Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), battling the guards at the mental hospital Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss), while there are some excellent instances of these forces being used (especially outside of the action). With the stunt direction of Harry Dakanalis, credit for the scene goes to fight coordinator Chris Weir.
06. Lost Bullet
The star and co-writer of this boldly durable French thriller, Alban Lenoir, has a Statham-like rugged-yet-droll charm, that rogue-like charisma that never reads as desperation. He plays Lino, a ruthless criminal who becomes an unlikely police car mechanic, who spends most of the film seeking to clear his identity for a murder he didn’t commit. (It is simpler said than done to hunt down the missing bullet of the title.) The best scene in the movie, a beatdown police station where Lino escapes from an interrogation room and fends off a variety of officers with all available items, happens very early on, but as the story plays out, Lenoir keeps you involved. Each eyebrow-singing, head-denting stunt gives him another chance to keep his composure. It’s exactly the type of brisk, clever movie that tends to get buried in Netflix’s algorithmic shuffle.
This dread-soaked, Southern-fried neo-noir should not waste time flipping the screws on its put-up lead in less than 90 minutes. Having recently survived an attack and probably killing a man lying dead on the floor of her garage, Leigh (Bethany Anne Lind) is added. She knows precisely what has happened; in the dark, the audience is held. More information about Leigh’s situation is revealed as the tension builds, and the circumstances surrounding the death of the man, involving Leigh’s currently incarcerated ex-husband, become clearer. Working in the same steely vein as director Jeremy Sauliner’s latest indie hit Blue Ruin, Blood on Her Tag doubles down on family drama instead of loading up on gunfights, brawls, or stand-off. It has an effect when aggression does occur. While some of the predictable dialog rings at times and the supporting performances are not always of the same quality, the resistance of the movie to cheap cynicism is impressive and Lind offers the kind of grounded, lived-in production that makes an indie like this sound like a secret gem.
Extraction is absolutely worthy of a top five spot in 2020 only in terms of the action sequences it features. In order to become a lethal mercenary named Tyler Rake, Chris Hemsworth set Mjolnir aside and the Netflix movie delivered some of the most exciting battle scenes of the year. A mind-blowing 12-minute “one take” that is nearly non-stop action was stitched together by first-time director Sam Hargrave, who has a career as a stuntman. This series is easily one of the greatest moments of the year in terms of gameplay, but Extraction is more than a one-trick pony. The fistfights and shootouts seen in the remainder of the movie are extraordinary. It’s a little shame that the remainder of the movie doesn’t live up to the action of Extraction Martial Arts, but thanks to Hargrave’s action experience and an extensive team of stunt and combat coordinators, the movie still delivered all the action it promised.
Outside of the action scenes, Wonder Woman 1984 may shine the most, but some positive moments are still handled by the new DC Extended Universe film. The opening sequence of the film of young Diana competing in the Olympics at Themyscira sets off the film with some wide-ranging action. Yet Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman does have the best action scenes. Her taking down mall thieves reveals how she’s evolved after Wonder Woman as a crime-fighter and makes strong use of her lasso. Further into the movie, however, the highlights come. The White House sequence in which Diana battles Barbara Ann Minerva (Kristen Wiig) while Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) fights Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) is arguably the best, while her Golden Eagle armor and a completely transformed Cheetah have their moments in the climatic showdown with Diana. A fine job was done by stunt coordinator Rob Inch and fight coordinator Liang Yang.
10. The Old Guard
Charlize Theron gets her own superhero brand in this curious adaptation of Greg Rucka’s comic series based on a rag-tag squad of un-killable mercenaries after fighting her way through an apocalyptic desert wasteland in Mad Max: Fury Lane, punching her way through Berlin in Atomic Blonde, and tangling with the Quick and Furious gang in the sky. Although the plot’s large strokes mix Highlander immortality schtick with a tale of a military rescue commando, director Gina Prince-Bythewood brings the content with a refreshing emotional directness and a winning earnestness. With Theron offering head-shots and axe-throws on time, the shooting of the battles may be a little by-the-numbers, but the dynamics between the characters are more thoroughly formed and lived-in than many competing blockbusters will be streaming. It’s not exactly unwelcome, even though the essential sequel-tease at the end is annoying.
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