Action movies are, by and large, built around their ridiculousness.
After all, anything that depicts the true nature of war, crime or violence often becomes far darker and more dramatic than your standard action flick.
By its very nature, the action genre is slightly cartoonish and over-the-top, which means that usually, we check our sense of disbelief at the door and settle in for an unrealistic, often nonsensical thrill-ride – and honestly, that’s okay.
It doesn’t matter if the feats we see achieved are physically or scientifically impossible. It doesn’t make any difference if all sense of realism disappears entirely, and it certainly doesn’t change anything that our action heroes can seemingly survive anything against all odds.
That said, it’s still pretty fun to poke holes in the action genre’s most ridiculous moments, isn’t it?
6. Freeway Chase – Bad Boys II
Michael Bay isn’t a man whose movies have any basis in reality.
But at the helm of 2003 action blockbuster Bad Boys II, he went all out to make proceedings as insanely over-the-top as possible, though one scene in particular toes the line between entertainment and ridiculousness more than most.
Featuring a gang of the worst marksmen imaginable, cops Mike (Will Smith) and Marcus (Martin Lawrence) find themselves in the middle of a high speed chase, with the bad guys firing endless amounts of bullets that seem to hit nothing other than headlights and sirens. Aiming from a moving vehicle can’t be easy, though, so let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.
The most unbelievable part of the scene is Mike’s superhuman reflexes. Constantly dodging oncoming traffic, wreckage and even vehicles dropped from the back of the criminals’ truck, the cops walk away from the chase without a scratch.
It’s also worth taking a moment to consider the sheer amount of collateral damage. The truck wrecks several civilian cars in this scene – and that’s just the ones we see. There’s also a separate scene in which Mike and Marcus collapse an entire Cuban shantytown, and you’ve got to assume that the casualties were in the triple digits there.
Protect and serve, am I right?
5. One Man Army – Commando
If ever a man was born to be an action hero, it’s Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Looks aside, it’s still ludicrous to expect anyone to believe Commando’s island scene, in which Arnie racks up 74 kills without so much as a scratch.
Running from place to place with precisely zero fear, Arnie occasionally stops to spray some bullets before pressing on to save his daughter. The militia trying to stop him are woefully inept, as they can’t seem to hit him even when he’s standing still, and they all get brutally murdered for their trouble.
Arnie needs no cover, nor does he need to take any time to aim. Firing from the hip while standing in plain view of his enemies, John Matrix is without a doubt, the stupidest, luckiest man in all of cinema.
Commando is peak action nonsense, and while it’s a classic of the genre, that doesn’t make it any less ridiculous.
4. Truck Vs. Jet – Live Free or Die Hard
1988’s Die Hard is an action classic, and it’s mostly a tense, semi-realistic tale of one man’s attempt to foil a terrorist plot.
Its sequels, however, got gradually less believable, and by the time we reached the franchise’s fourth instalment, realism had gone out of the window.
Live Free or Die Hard follows John McClane as he once again goes up against terrorists, this time of the cyber variety.
The movie’s infamous climax includes bad guy Thomas Gabriel taking control (remotely, of course – he’s a cyber-terrorist, remember) of an F-35 Lightning Jet, ordering the pilot to attack the truck that McClane is driving.
In a moment of quick… – well, maybe ‘thinking’ is a bit of a stretch, so let’s say – decision, McClane
manages to get some height, drives the semi-destroyed truck blind for long enough over the crumbling freeway to lure the pilot in, where his jet is damaged by falling debris. McClane leaps onto the jet, and then slides to safety as the jet explodes behind him.
It’s also worth noting that there’s an equally insane earlier scene in which McClane takes out a helicopter mid-flight with a car.
3. Aerial Landing – Face/Off
We’ve all been there: chasing the terrorist who murdered our son for six years before finally catching up to him at an airport, only to have him attempt to make his getaway by plane. Thankfully, in Sean Archer’s case there was a helicopter on hand, so, doing what any sane human being would do, he hopped into the cockpit, flew that sucker towards the moving plane, and landed it on the wing, stopping his nemesis from taking off.
Wait, you mean we haven’t all been there? And that particular scenario is just the ridiculous opening action sequence for John Woo’s 1997 action masterpiece Face/Off?
Well, ridiculousness aside, Face/Off is a great movie. Its insanity actually made it far more entertaining, so this one falls firmly on the right side of ridiculous.
2. Flying a Tank – The A-Team
Taking an ageing, beloved TV series and rebooting it is pretty well-covered ground for Hollywood, and it’s an easy way to guarantee you’ll get a reasonable sized audience, even if your movie is a steaming pile.
The A-Team wasn’t quite steaming, but it certainly wasn’t anything as entertaining as its ’80s TV predecessor.
There are a handful of big action set pieces, and they’re all honestly pretty unremarkable. All, that is, but one.
After stealing a military aircraft, the team must make their escape before it’s destroyed. Their solution, naturally, is to *checks notes* parachute a tank to safety.
As if it wasn’t already ridiculous enough, when the tank’s parachutes are riddled with bullets, the team use recoil from the tank’s gun to pilot it safely above a lake.
Possibly the most infamously overcooked action movie moment ever, it’s hard not to watch with glee as this insane, once-in-a-lifetime-level-nonsense unfolds.
1. Cutting the Cord – Shoot ‘Em Up
Shoot ‘Em Up is a uniquely insane piece of film from the moment it begins.
In fact, the very first scene is exactly the one we’re looking at here, when Mr. Smith (Clive Owen) steps in to protect a heavily pregnant woman from a would-be murderer.
After a punching a carrot through the man’s skull (yes, really), Smith and the woman then encounter several waves of gunmen, all of which Smith holds off in true action movie style.
The kicker? The woman is giving birth throughout the scene, and Smith is both racking up an impressive body count and delivering her baby at the same time.
As if all that wasn’t weird enough, Smith then turns his gun on the newborn, and uses a bullet to cut the umbilical cord.
At this point, the only real thing we know about either character is that Smith hates middle-aged men with ponytails, which should go even further toward describing why this one tops the list.
And that’s the list. Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and stay tuned for more lists, news and reviews!