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The Best Action Movies of 2012

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What makes the best action movie? Is it balls-to-the-wall chaos? Meditative stories with bursts of adrenaline? A smart, twisting plot? The answer, as evidenced by this list that represents the best action movies of 2012, is clear: there is no single formula to making a great action movie.

Some movies are able to pull off nonstop action from beginning to end, where others flounder by doing the same thing. A few movies try to dive deeper into the psyche of their protagonists, preferring to be much more calculating and selective with their action. And then there are some that just work for no particular reason.

Without further ado, here are the ten best action movies of 2012:

No. 10. Savages

Most people hated Oliver Stone’s return to gory violence, but I’m not most people. Savages isn’t for everyone (or most?) – the first scene involves people getting their heads cut off with chainsaws – but it’s a slick and sexy movie that features a few very good action sequences. It also, surprisingly, features a good performance by Taylor Kitsch (Battleship, John Carter, neither of which came anywhere close to qualifying for this list).

No. 9. Chronicle

Three teenagers develop super powers and they do what you would expect teenagers do with such a gift: they abuse it. Unfortunately, one of them snaps and downtown Seattle takes a serious beating. Chronicle gets better with repeated viewings, so if you shrugged your shoulders at this one early in the year, check it out again.

No. 8. Dredd

Sylvestor Stallone is gone, but Judge Dredd is back in Dredd, a movie no one asked for but got anyway. In this case, however, Dredd is a fun surprise, a movie that won’t win any awards but revels in its simplicity and benefits from slick direction and a violent script. As judge, jury and executioner, I give Dredd a reprieve.

No. 7. Headhunters

A guy who steals paintings for a living steals from the wrong man (note to self: do not steal from an ex-mercenary who is sleeping with your out-of-your-league wife) and pays the price, as he is chased across the country, left for dead and much worse. Headhunters may have subtitles, but that shouldn’t deter you.

No. 6. Looper

Bruce Willis battles a younger version of himself (played by a nearly unrecognizable Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in a battle for the future, or something, in Looper, one of the year’s most satisfyingly original films. There isn’t as much action as you’d think, but Looper is the complete package nonetheless.

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By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: Action Movies, Movies
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