10 Movies That Will Kick Your F—ing Head In Like ‘John Wick’
I’d like to submit for the record that none of these action movie protagonists would be able to beat John Wick in a fight. I don’t even think death itself can do that. However, it is POSSIBLE that these protagonists would be able to get the upper hand (or fist) on ol’ Johnny if it was a one-against-10 battle. After all, these are some talented people. But not talented in the way that people who can play Chopin or make a soufflé are talented; I mean talented at separating men from their ghosts. A rare talent indeed. One they don’t offer as a major at the fancy European college where you learned how to make French cuisine.
If you just had your face utterly melted off by John Wick: Chapter 4, you might be craving a little more action—and not just any action movie, but a very specific kind of “kick your f—ing head in” action movie. Rest assured, the following films will cause brain damage. The good kind.
You know what? Denzel Washington in The Equalizer might almost be able to take on John Wick. Almost. Washington plays a former government operative who is tasked with taking down some unscrupulous criminals doing what they do best: crime. It’s got some seriously incredible action sequences, and it shows that Denzel’s Equalizer is able to take down multiple opponents at once. He can do it with bullets, but can he do it with nothing but a stable full of horses like Keanu Reeves did in John Wick: Chapter 3? That remains to be seen.
A cold war thriller! Reagan! Gorbachev! The Berlin wall! Faceless KGB operatives! Atomic Blonde has the works. Charlize Theron is a top secret super spy tasked with retrieving a top secret document. Like John Wick, this movie has style—probably because it was directed by David Leitch, the co-director behind the first John Wick movie. Sexy, dark, and violent, Atomic Blonde is known for some sweet-ass fight sequences, including one of the most impressive one-take shots in history. And c’mon y’all, it’s Charlize Theron. She already proved herself to be an Action Movie Queen with her role as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road. She doesn’t disappoint this time around, either.
The Raid: Redemption
Okay, so here’s the thing: On average, Eastern action films blow Western action films out of the water. I will say that John Wick is an exception to this rule. However, The Raid arguably gives the Wick franchise a run for its money. (Doubloons? Whatever they use at The Continental.) The Raid: Redemption is an Indonesian action film about a SWAT team that goes into a high-rise apartment complex controlled by a nasty drug lord. It has some of the most impressive hand-to-hand combat sequences I’ve ever seen. Be warned, though: The Raid movies are brutal. And yes, there are multiple. You like this one? Watch The Raid 2 next for the prison yard fight sequence alone.
Kill Bill: Volume 1
I mean, c’mon. It’s Kill Bill! One of the most stylish and iconic action movies ever made. If you haven’t seen it, well, I don’t even know how that’s possible??? But if you truly haven’t, Quentin Tarantino’s action-packed double-header is about a young woman known as The Bride (Uma Thurman) who is taking revenge on the group of assassins that left her for dead. EVERYONE has seen it. So if you’ve seen it already, WATCH IT AGAIN. And then watch Kill Bill: Volume 2!
The Protector stars Tony Jaa, who is probably the greatest martial artist/actor in the entire world. His movies are BATSHIT. Jaa grew up on old school kung-fu movies, where actors had to be on wires to do their high-flying stunts, but he didn’t know that. So he learned to actually do those stunts himself. And holy shit, does it make for a good action movie. The Protector is about a man whose job it is to protect royal elephants. One of his precious elephants is kidnapped, and he has to use his fists to get the elephant back.
“I will find you, and I will kill you”
Perhaps one of the most quoted movie lines of the past 10 years, it sums up the plot of Taken in a nutshell. Liam Neeson plays an Action Dad whose daughter is kidnapped by sex traffickers while on vacation in Europe. Liam Neeson has to use his “very particular set of skills” to turn the lives of her captors into a living nightmare. It’s a revenge thriller fueled by dad-love. What’s not to dad-love about it?
Hardcore Henry is something of an outlier among action movies. It is the only action flick I know that is shot entirely in first person. Director Ilya Naishuller basically put a GoPro on the main actor’s head and said “go, pro.” And he went. Hardcore Henry is about a cyborg named Henry who fights his way through a city to rescue his wife. It doesn’t win any awards for plot, but the action sequences are stunning.
The Bourne Identity
Another classic. The Bourne Identity stars Matt Damon as a renegade assassin who suffers from amnesia. He’s being hunted by other trained assassins, but he doesn’t know why. He also doesn’t know why he is really good at killing people, but dammit, he’s gonna find out. The Bourne Identity was one of the most impactful action flicks of the ’00s, and inspired multiple sequels and a spinoff.
Extraction stars Chris Hemsworth in a rare “anti-hero” role. He plays a black market mercenary who is hired to rescue the abducted son of a notorious Indian crime lord. While the action sequences are astounding (including one of the best car chases I’ve ever seen), what makes this movie shine is surprisingly the power of its protagonist. Hemsworth’s action hero is not grizzled, heartless, and too cool for school. He’s a deeply traumatized man who is unable to function in society, so he seeks out high adrenaline jobs because it’s the only place where he feels comfortable. It’s a unique look into the psyche of a character archetype that tends to lack depth in other movies.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Action! Comedy! British people! What more could you ask for? Kingsman follows a young lad (Taron Egerton) who is recruited into a secret organization made up of Her Majesty’s most elite spies. Their target? A madman played by Samuel L. Jackson who intends to solve the problem of climate change with a killing-spree. Bet the libs never thought of that solution, huh?
(featured image: Miramax / Sony / Focus Features / PT Merantau / The Mary Sue)
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