2009 was certainly not a big year for action movies, at least not quality ones, but there were a few gems here and there. Even the a few of the horrible ones had a couple of redeeming qualities to make it onto this Top Action Movies list. Here I present to you my picks for the Best Action Movies of 2009.
10. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
This prequel, which serves as the fourth installment of the ‘X-Men’ film franchise, was set about a couple decades before the very first ‘X-Men’ film and its main focus is on Wolverine entirely and his much-troubled relationship with his half-brother Victor Creed. “X-Men: Origins” was completely tacked on and totally uninspired in every way imaginable. Oh yeah, and casting a rapper as one of the mutants doesn’t help any either. However, the movie did have some exciting action scenes that were entertaining along with some fine performances from Hugh Jackman and Liev Schreiber. Therefore, it is worthy of reaching the bare bottom of this list for Best Action Movies of 2009.
9. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
I almost didn’t want to put this on here because of how silly and ridiculous this is. But, having loved G.I. Joe as a kid, I couldn’t resist it. This movie incarnation of “G.I. Joe” is in no way great or fantastic, it’s not even a superbly done action film, it had a few redeeming bits and pieces (like the new missile technology that ‘eats’ its targets) but the action and the camera work completely ruined this film for me, it’s almost as if a little kid directed this.
Don’t get me wrong, G.I. Joe is kids stuff but this film makes zero attempt to be serious or throw us adults a bone or two. “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” does manage to be a great movie if you can turn off your brain for an hour and a half and just watch the pretty pictures on the screen. However, I would certainly be interested in seeing a G.I. Joe film done from a perspective that is a tad more serious and by a director who has had less caffeine. “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” deserves this backseat at number 9 on the countdown for the Top Action Movies of 2009.
8. Terminator: Salvation
Entering at number 8 on my list for the Best Action Movies of 2009 is the latest abomination and embarrassment of the terminated ‘Terminator’ franchise, “Terminator: Salvation”. Director McG, who is best known for the “Charlie’s Angels” movies, directed this fourth ‘Terminator’ film (I can’t believe I said that without throwing up in the process) and totally missed an huge opportunity to deliver what all the ‘Terminator’ fanatics wanted: A film about the future war between the humans and the machines.
“Terminator: Salvation” does a slightly better job in the action department than “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” in that you can actually understand, in a visual sense, what is going on in front of you (although in there’s some shaky cam in a few scenes). But that is the only saving grace of this film and that is the only reason why it made my list here. With that aside, “Terminator: Salvation” is purely Tom Clancy video game material, from the opening right down to the final battle.
7. The Taking of Pelham 123
“The Taking of Pelham 123” is one of 2009’s zillion-gajillion unnecessary remakes, however, this movie was almost, almost good. “The Taking of Pelham 123” was a very entertaining action film with great performances by Denzel Washington, John Travolta, and James Gandolfini. The film pushes all of the right buttons although it doesn’t spend enough time with Travolta’s partners in crime as opposed to the original version.
But that is not the movie’s biggest problem of all, the letdown of “The Taking of Pelham 123” is the weak Hollywood-influenced third act which completely destroys all that was built up prior to it. The original version’s ending speaks volumes compared to this new version’s ending. “The Taking of Pelham 123” had a strong first and second act but the third act is nothing but an example of lazy screenwriting. “The Taking of Pelham 123” can leave the Top Action Movies of 2009 train at number 7 here.
Perhaps not one of the Top Movies of 2009, but definitely one of the Top Action Movies of 2009. “Taken” was a kinetic kick-arse Liam Neeson action flick about a retired FBI agent who travels to Europe in search of his kidnapped daughter and her best friend. “Taken” didn’t tread any new waters as far as plot and predictability go, this story has been done several times before in the past (human trafficking films are nothing new). But the execution of “Taken” was quite exciting and Liam Neeson’s performance made it very worthwhile with his no-nonsense nature, expertise, and his witty dialogue.
5. District 9
“District 9” was perhaps one of the Best Movies of 2009 that delivered in its action scenes, sci-fi material, and much more. We always used to think of aliens as either being our saviors or enemies but “District 9” took a more unique approach – they’re the victims. Aliens as immigrants, who would have ever thought? “District 9” was masterfully filmed and was an original idea that was neither a remake or adaptation (for a change). Considering its subject matter in the film, we were treated to a deluge of fun action scenes including a cool TechWarrior battle in the finale.
4. Star Trek
“Star Trek” was one of the best prequels ever made (I wonder how George Lucas feels about this, no offense), one of the Best Action Movies of 2009 as well as one of the Best Movies of 2009 period. “Star Trek” was an entertaining reboot of the dead ‘Star Trek’ franchise which has practically lied dormant for most of the past decade. Director J.J. Abrams has successfully revived the ‘Star Trek’ franchise with a fun energetic cast ranging from Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Jimmy Bennett, Zachary Quinto, to Eric Bana and much more, and by taking the series back to its roots with the early hay-days of the original ‘Trek’ crew before they even knew each other.
This was one film in 2009 that I had expected to suck when I saw the previews for it, another hot film franchise for Hollywood to milk and run dry without injecting the slightest bit of effort into it to make it a great film. I was wrong though, “Star Trek” was actually the only decent movie of this past summer aside from “District 9”. Looking forward to the upcoming sequel and perhaps a bright future for this revived franchise.
3. The Hurt Locker
Hands down, “The Hurt Locker” was one of the Best Movies of 2009. From the opening sequence down to the final closing shot, “The Hurt Locker” was simply one of the best war films ever made in a while, a breath of fresh air amidst most of the trash released throughout 2009. This film, directed by Kathryn Bigelow (the mastermind behind hits such as “Point Break” and “Strange Days”), focuses on one of the most dangerous jobs in the army: Bomb Disposal.
The opening sequence effectively set the tone of the film with one of our leads, played by Anthony Mackie, losing two close teammates in one bomb disposing scene. He is then teamed up with Jeremy Renner who plays a cocky daredevil type who’s been disarming bombs for way too long. The bomb disarming scenes in this film are nail-biting and will keep you on the edge of your seat, guaranteed.
2. [REC] 2
If you have seen the terrible movie called “Quarantine”, then you may or may not know that it is an American remake of a far superior horror film from Spain called “[REC]”. Well, “[REC] 2” is the sequel to that film, released in October of 2009 in Spain. First off, if you have never seen the original “[REC]”, please do so because you have no idea what you are missing and please erase the damage that “Quarantine” has done to your mind.
This sequel picks up a mere fifteen minutes after the original where a SWAT team is sent into the building, “Aliens” style. As a matter of fact, this film is to the original “[REC]” what “Aliens” was to “Alien”. A scientist with a dark secret is also sent in with the team. Our heroine from the original, Angela Vidal, is back for a little bit but not in the way you think and yes, the supremely evil Nina Medeiros also returns as the main monster in this sequel. “[REC] 2” is action packed to the hilt, making it one of the best action movies of 2009.
And the award for best action movie of 2009 goes to… “2012”! No other action movie this year has entertained and packed as much action and adventure in it than this disaster-filled epic from Roland Emmerich, the man who brought us “Independence Day”, “The Patriot”, “Stargate”, “Universal Soldier”, and “The Day After Tomorrow”. Roland Emmerich proves to us that he’s the Irwin Allen of this generation by hitting us with every disaster imaginable in “2012”.
From earthquakes to mega tsunamis to volcanoes, “2012” has the spirit and drive of a true summer blockbuster although it was released this past Thanksgiving season. Summer 2009 lacked a real action-packed blockbuster like this movie (and no, “Transformers 2” doesn’t count). “2012 would have done much better if it were released in its original July 2009 slot, instead of being overshadowed by the ridiculous “New Moon”, and also if it were available in 3D.
That makes my list for the Top Action Movies of 2009. To be quite honest, I would have rather waited until “Avatar” was released next week to see where that would have fell on my list, it just could have made number one simply because it’s from James Cameron and that man never fails to deliver a fantastic and entertaining action movie. Others who didn’t make the list include: “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”, “Armored”, “Surrogates”, “Push”, “Fast & Furious”, and “Watchmen”. Well, that concludes my Best Action Movies of 2009. Looking forward to 2010…