Action Packed


Pioneer movie makers of the early 20th Century quickly discovered that “motion pictures” were what audiences wanted. Kinetic action of one sort or another filled the nickelodeons and later, theater screens displaying endless chases, fights, flights, dives, crashes, pratfalls, etc. Mounted cowboys and Indians chasing each other endlessly at breakneck speed became a reliably staple feature of film makers.
Ever since, film directors have never lost sight of the fact that story lines may be ignored or prove nonsensical so long as the action is ongoing and feverish. That, of course, has put a premium on upping the ante on such scenes, extending them, orchestrating improbable encounters, staging spectacular confrontations, casting aside notions of human limits and endurance, understanding that viewers, caught up in the moment, will willingly suspend disbelief and breathlessly thrill to it all. But even as efforts to provide more elaborate spectacular action scenes continue, film buffs are able to recognize certain recurrent patterns amidst the ongoing chaos and frantic maneuverings. Take note:
Car Chases – A standard fixture of action films, car chases ever more creatively reckless and destructive; nevertheless, proceed along familiar paths.
• Principles immediately jump into any car at hand where somehow “keys” conveniently await them. Gas is never a problem.
• The “hero” immediately proves to be an uncommonly expert driver.
• Blowouts and flats are rare, except when shots are deliberately aimed at the tires. Otherwise, gunfire during chases rarely hit their targets.
• If police cars are part of the chase, several will inevitably collide, allowing their “prey” to escape.
• During the chase the “lead” car will unfailingly upend cars, wagons, street vendors, garbage cans, outdoor displays, etc., especially upon entering narrow alleys.
• As the cars head on to nearby highways, they will surely enter lanes against oncoming traffic, leaving numerous collisions in their wake.
• At some point they will speed onto sidewalks, pedestrians frantically scattering to get out of the way.
• Cars will definitely become airborne at some point, land and head off.
• Expect a 180 degree change of direction just when the vehicle appears trapped.
• Despite several “collisions” along the way, resulting in numerous body parts ripped off, the car remains capable of extremely high speeds, operating as if it had just left the showroom.
• However the chase ends, you can be sure it featured almost all the elements just described.
Fights – The fights between principal adversaries have been increasingly drawn out, no-holds-barred punishing affairs of extreme ferocity. Expect no instant knockouts such as Mike Tyson once delivered in the ring.
• Marquis of Queensbury rules do not apply. Anything goes. An object within reach can be employed to batter the opponent. Knives and guns usually are swept aside. Hand to hand fighting will determine the outcome. Martial Arts moves have become standard.
• Blows that would ordinarily appear crushing and conclusive have but limited and temporary effect.
• The fighters will be thrashing from one location to another, crashing through windows and tumbling down stairways, or falling off yachts into water.
• The fights will go back and forth, first one individual seeming to gain the upper hand, only to have the other stage a comeback. There is never a quick conclusion.
• Lots of stuff gets broken along the way as they crash into everything around them. Occasionally an object is thrown,but almost always misses.
• If it is a period piece sword fight, expect a lengthy contest, much parrying, considerable back and forth and abrasive sword scraping. If it ends with a successful thrust and gaping wound, count on a drawn out death scene.
Rooftops – More and more roof top chases have been incorporated with action films. They provide numerous and varied opportunities for heroes and villains to display their physical prowess. Besides which, heights scare a lot of people; it’s a good place to generate excitement.
• Jumping from one roof to another  one over a gap between the two produces surefire thrills. Almost always they make it.
• Convenient hiding places exist on the roofs.
• Leaping from roofs through adjacent windows is ever a crowd pleaser, especially when viewing the shocked faces of those in the apartments.
Expendable Sentries – Many action films incorporate a climactic surprise attack against an enemy whose location has been pinpointed. Audiences eagerly await the assault and the fierce fighting to follow. Almost always there are sentries on guard who, if not neutralized, can eliminate the element of surprise, blunt the attack and disappoint movie goers. Fear not.Predictably  the sentries are disposed of as attackers employ silencers, knives and lethal choke holds to do them in. Those given roles as sentries can expect very limited screen exposure.
Action movies will continue to flourish, as will our ability to anticipate much that’s on the screen, even as intrepid stuntmen and computer graphics experts provide audiences with even more imaginative thrills that will keep us coming back for more.

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