Action movies. Below are the best action movies of 2008, based on a combination of overall quality, intensity of the action and overall entertainment value. Action-comedies such asÂ Tropic Thunder didn’t quite make the list, though Pineapple Express almost made it. Without further ado, here are the best action movies of 2008:
- The Dark Knight
This is a gimme. Even though it isn’t a straightforward action film, The Dark Knight is intense from beginning to end. It rarely lets up, and there are some amazingly memorable action sequences, most notably the car/truck chase scene that results in Batman flipping a semi on its top. I don’t think I need to explain myself further.
- Iron Man
Before there was The Dark Knight, there was Iron Man. The film reigned the box office and critical arena for two months before DC finally upended Marvel, but that shouldn’t diminish the surprisingly high quality of the Jon Favreau film. Despite great previews and a lot of buzz, I was skeptical as to whether a director who had never handled a large budget could make a movie about a tin man work, but my skepticism vanished quickly. Strangely, the movie doesn’t have as much as action as one would expect (I so wish that Afghanistan attack would have gone on for longer), but it still has the perfect bland of thrills, laughs and visual effects. Of course, it took Robert Downey Jr. to take the character to the next level.
Some people will disagree with me on this. Some hated this movie (for reasons I’m still trying to figure out), but Cloverfield, the highly anticipated spring blockbuster of 2008, was more than I could have asked for. While it starts off slow, the movie soon shifts into action and destruction mode – and it doesn’t let up until the closing credits. Some have pointed out that the shaky camera is a gimmick or downright lame, or that the characters are shallow, but what really gets me are the people that complain that the creature’s back story is not explained – nor is the creature often shown in its full glory. This is the exact reason why I believe Cloverfield worked so well: it is a snapshot of normal people as they try to escape a creature that just showed up one day. It isn’t their place to discover its origins or follow the monster around to snap a good picture; they are trying to escape, and that’s that.
Whatever you think of Sylvestor Stallone, the new Rambo was a Godsend to the action movies at all. This one also starts off rather slow, with a lot of silent Sly dwelling on his past, but once the action kicks in, it gets downright nasty. The movie is super gritty and doesn’t show away from any gore, and depicts warfare as a downright bloody mess. Hundreds of people die in the movie, many of those in the last few minutes as Rambo tears them to shreds – literally – with a rail gun. I actually thought it was a pretty damn good movie, but at the very least, it is mindless entertainment.
- The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
I sure as hell didn’t think I was going to be putting the PG-rated sequel to the so-so The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on this list, but sure enough, here it is. The movie always stops just short of showing much blood, but it pushes that PG-rating to its limit. The movie is surprisingly violent and darker than its predecessor, and director Adam Adamson seems to have improved upon it as well. Prince Caspian is tighter and fast paced, and also offers a few very good action sequences, most notably the invasion of the castle and the massive battle at the end. If you’re into action movies, you may have overlooked this one – so head to the rental store now.
Another movie I would never have expected to end up on this list, Doomsday is a surprisingly entertaining action movie. Even though the picture blatantly rips off such classics as Mad Max, Gladiator, Braveheart, Escape From New York, 28 Days Later and yes, even Aliens, it is this absurd amalgation that works in the picture’s favor. The movie is absolutely ridiculous and switches genres and setting every few minutes (literally, there is a whole sequence that seems like it’s pulled right out of First Knight), yet this makes it all the more fun. Put your brain on standby and enjoy.
The hit Angelina Jolie action movie would have ranked higher – but it was just a tad overrated. The movie is entertaining, at times hilarious and also full of action, but it didn’t always click on all cylinders. Still, Wanted is a blast and belongs in any action fan’s arsenal of DVDs or Blu-Rays. Even though Jolie looks good in just about every movie she’s in, she looks especially hot here.
- The Incredible Hulk
Not exactly an action movie I’d watch over and over again, The Incredible Hulk is a step up from its predecessor and features some pretty solid action sequences. The chase through Brazil is top notch, as is a Hulk vs. the military sequence partway through. The movie isn’t as smart as it thinks it is, but this is about as good as you’re going to get for a giant green character that basically does nothing but grunt and smash things.
- Eagle Eye
Unlike Doomsday, Eagle Eye suffers from its over-the-top nature. This non-stop thrill ride does keep you engaged and entertained, but once the big twist is revealed, it loses some of its edge. The many plot holes practically beg for you to take it with a grain-of-salt, but it sure seems like the filmmakers took this one more seriously than audiences did. Nevertheless, Eagle Eye is a fun, action-packed movie with lots of suspense and special effects.
- Hellboy II: The Golden Army
The sequel to Hellboy was highly anticipated, but a little disappointing. It’s not that the movie isn’t well done or lacks action; it’s just that it feels like director Guillermo Del Toro got a little carried away with things. Following his awesome Pan’s Labyrinth, Del Toro decided to take all of the monster rejects from that movie and drop them in this sequel. There’s just something that feels a bit off about the picture, as if it isn’t a faithful follow-up to the original. Then again, it’s still entertaining and exciting, so I can’t fault it too much.
Notable Loser: Body of Lies
Just missing the top ten is the Ridley Scott-directed Body of Lies, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a CIA agent operating in the Middle East. Critics bashed the film and audiences ignored it, which means that most of you reading this article probably haven’t seen it. The movie is surprisingly captivating, and is better than some of the movies listed above. Nevertheless, it doesn’t have the amount of major action sequences to warrant placement on a “Best Action Movies” list – but I wanted to make note of it anyway.