2008 was jam packed with action movies geared to make fans of the genre quite happy. There were comic book films, sequels to successful franchises, and a few ground-breaking action films that may have re-defined a lot of the genre. While there were a lot of interesting and exciting films, there were also quite a few duds along the way as well. Here are two lists; starting with the best action films of 2008, and then ending with the worst action films of 2008.
The Best Action Movies of 2008
1. The Dark Knight — After Director Christopher Nolan re-invented Batman with Batman Begins, he had to ramp it up for the sequel, and he just that and more. With an exciting story covering Batman and the new reincarnation of The Joker, actors Christian Bale and Heath Ledger really brought home gold with their performances. The film blended some great action (especially the chase scene) with some great acting from Ledger to provide a film that has broken a number of box office records along the way.
2. Iron Man — Iron Man completely re-built the career of Robert Downey Jr., and with the assistance of Director Jon Favreau, the film succeeded at creating a brand new franchise for comic book fans. Though the story has been around for a while, seeing Iron Man on the big screen made it a house-hold name. It not only re-started Downey Jr.’s career, but Gwyneth Paltrow as well, who brought a steamy presence opposite the star, and helped create a film that was very exciting and action oriented.
3. Wanted — At the center of Wanted was a really watered down reason why a band of assassins is working together, but along the way, a lot of unique action is brought to impress fans. From its opening sequences, to car chases through town, and an innovative train-sequence, the film explodes of the screen and provides enough eye-candy to keep even the non-action film fan interested. The only thing keeping this from one from becoming an action classic is the reason they are assassins, but the innovative action sequences make it one to remember.
4. Quantum of Solace — The latest James Bond film returns Daniel Craig to his now familiar role, and does so with a lot of action. From the beginning car chase to the ultimate show-down with the bad-guys, Bond takes us on an action journey with cars, motorcycles, boats, planes, and even on foot. The action makes up for a story that wasn’t as strong as Casino Royale, and earns a place on the list for how well Craig takes on every one of the scenes.
5. Cloverfield — Some might see this as more of a horror film, but there were some intense action sequences with Cloverfield that really make it stand out on this list. Not only that, but the unique use of the camera, as well as the “hold-your-breath” scenes on the rooftops towards the end make this an action film that does stand out. Though some had problems with the jerky camera-work, it did a lot to further the genre, and presented a unique look at the “monster” film.
Honorable Mentions: Eagle Eye, Hancock, Jumper, Indiana Jones, The Incredible Hulk, Speed Racer, Vantage Point
The Worst Action Movies of 2008
1. Doomsday — A deadly plague has broken out, and Britain decides to wall off the infected area of their country. Now it’s 30 years later and an outbreak has occurred, so an agent must be sent into the “zone” to see if there is a cure. Some bad action, coupled with a lot of bad acting and dialogue made this one not as good as good as maybe the idea could have been. It could have been the bad cast, but the film just didn’t score, and it had quite a few moments where the action seemed quite phoned in.
2. Rambo — The 4th chapter in the story of John Rambo comes 20 years too late, and cannot compete with the films that Stallone had in his past. It tries far too hard to make Rambo seem like his young self, but cannot pull it off, even though the bad-guys are slowed down, and don’t even seem like they really care about stopping him. The inept villains and the weak action spell doom for this one.
3. Starship Troopers 3 — In the realm of film ideas that just shouldn’t have been made, Starship Troopers 3 is near the top of the list. As the “war against the bugs” continues, Caper Van Dien proves that his career has gone down-hill by re-joining the cast to help lead them into battle again, and again, on another rescue mission. It’s not good at all, and makes even Part 2 look watchable.
4. Tropic Thunder — With a lot of buzz, and a cast that looked really good (Robert Downey Jr., Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Tom Cruise, Nick Nolte) Tropic Thunder really fails to deliver. The story of actors filming a movie in Vietnam, only to find themselves in a real struggle to survive starts out pretty boring, and when the first hour is gone, there is barely any real action (or laughs) to make the film watchable. Those that make it to the third act get to see a couple of explosions, but on the whole, the film was a complete let-down, and simply did not deliver on its promise to be entertaining.
5. 10,000 BC — The risk to take on an action film from our distant past was not a good one, and the action-adventure film 10,000 BC just wasn’t very good. Relying too much on CGI and green screens to make sequences work, the prehistoric film tries to show the journey of a central character through many fights and action sequences, but gets bogged down, and becomes less entertaining as it moves forward. It just wasn’t constructed well enough, and unless it is being seen by an extreme fan of this genre of film, is not very enjoyable.