The Most Important Elements of an Action Movie

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Throughout film history, there have been a wide variety of action movies, from the classic Sergio Leone western The Good, The Bad and The Ugly to the modern produced Atomic Blonde. Despite their differences, they all share elements that distinguish them from other film genres. Screenwriters, directors and producers can benefit from understanding these factors and applying them successfully. 

Captivating Characters 

As with most stories, the audience will engage with a movie more if the hero is likable. The protagonists must have a clear goal, as well as personal flaws that interfere with said goal. The heroes should also feel competent and proactive enough that they contribute to the action and make their victories feel earned. To contrast, the villains need to be effective foils to the heroes’ personality and objectives. They also must be powerful enough to make their defeat more satisfying. 

An Interesting Story

Contrary to popular belief, action scenes are not just about fights and explosions. A strong, interesting story enhances the action and ensures the viewers do not tune out in the time between these sequences. The protagonists must have a strong motivation, such as revenge or justice, that pits them against increasingly bigger threats. With moderation, the occasional plot twist or misdirection can refresh the story. Most importantly, the plot needs to build up towards an exciting final battle. 

Exciting Action Scenes

As the biggest draw of the film, the action scenes require the most attention. The characters usually have clear motives to participate in them. There are two main types of action scenes: chases and fights. Switching between the two keeps the movie fresh and inventive. While there is debate on the use of practical vs. CGI effects, most directors use both. Most importantly, the creatives must ensure safety of actors, stunt actors and other crew involved. 

Action movies have different flavors, but they also follow important fundamentals. Amateur and veteran filmmakers alike use them to craft the best action films around.  

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