By: John M Jerva
2020 is almost over and I can pretty much sum it up for everyone that it can’t end fast enough. This year had been trying to say the least and I often wonder what might have been in terms of the year in movies it would have been if not for that virus that I won’t dwell on again.
Even though films like Top Gun Maverick, Black Widow and more were delayed due to cinemas closing for a great deal of the past 12 months, we still got some great action films this year with the indie industry really stepping up when we needed them.
From Chris Hemsworth cementing his action hero status to Donnie Yen taking on Scott Adkins to getting another round of alien invasion sci-fi awesomeness, this year was still memorable and there was no shortage of high-octane goodness. With that I give you the Top 10 Action-Flix Action Flicks of 2020! Enjoy!
10) I Am Vengeance Retaliation
I Am Vengeance: Retaliation is bigger, badder and more satisfying on every level and for those who have seen a lot of these films, it manages to strive for something fresh and invigorating. Sure the plot is simple but as well it should be because it’s all about the action here and with that in mind, Retaliation is a film that deserves multiple viewings so you can pick out very little thing you might have missed before and there’s a lot happening. This is action cinema at its most primal and with an action scene every couple of minutes, I Am Vengeance: Retaliation is a winner from start to its epic inducing finale. Star Stu Bennett has arrived and I look forward to seeing what he has in store for us in the future. The rest of the cast led by Vinnie Jones are all great and they definitely earn the accolades here. This is indie action cinema at its finest and it’s lean and mean and will definately entertain on a Satruday night once again!!
9) 21 Bridges
Sadly we lost Chadwick Boseman this year but his legacy will forever live on and 21 Bridges will always be a favorite of mine from his filmography. 21 Bridges will never win awards for originality but it is essential viewing for the excellent cast and spectacular action and Boseman once again proved that he could be a leading man outside a Marvel movie. I have yet to see his Netflix film Message from the King but now after this one, I want to see it even more. The Russos have delivered an 80’s style cop thriller that is pumping with energy and tension and it is crackiling with brutal action from start to finish. R.I.P. King…
8) The Mercenary
The plot is a simple one and that’s the way it should be as it is all about the action here. Dominiquie Vandenberg proves once again that he is top tier in the action field and should be a major action star and director Jesse V. Johnson marks another notch on his best of accomplishments. Louis Mandylor is gold once again as our antagonist and he elevates any picture he’s in. With The Mercenary, you know exactly what you are getting and it delivers in spades along with a soaring score that calls back to the those glory days of VHS action that one went to a video store to find. Unfortunatley those days of going to a store and being pleasently surprised by what you found on the shelf are gone but these types of filmmakers are doing their best to keep that old school feeling alive. With this film, if you’re looking for a classic throwback of violence and destruction that was a staple in theaters back in the day, then look no further. It has arrived with The Mercenary! VIVE LA MORT!
7) The Debt Collector 2 (AKA Debt Collectors)
Debt Collectors is as advertised. A bare knuckle, take ’em out action thriller that has Scott Adkins in fine action form and Louis Mandylor oozing gravitas. From my interview that I conducted with both Adkins and director Jesse V. Johnson, they mentioned that they are in the process of developing another project that will out do anything they have done before. What this means is that I believe the one-two punch of this creative action team will last for a long time and with Debt Collectors, they once again prove that they are the ones to beat when it comes to bone crunching, adrenaline delivering epics that leave you sweating from the get go. We all need to support indie action projects like this one so we get more amazing content like this in the future from men and women who know how to shoot action and know what we as an audience are starving for.
Adkins, Mandylor and Johnson have done it again and here’s hoping that Debt Collectors turns into the franchise that it and the people who make it so rightly desreve.
6) The Outpost
The Outpost, in my eyes, is one of the best movies to be released this year and it is definitely one of the best war films to be produced. It’s real, brutal and unforgiving in its message and audiences should take away something from it well after it’s over. Director Rod Lurie, the cast and crew have really made something special here and it will go down as a true war classic. The Outpost should be mentioned in the same breath as Platoon, Saving Private Ryan and Blackhawk Down to name a few other classic war films. It leaves a lasting impression and shows us how truly awe inspiring these men and women truly are. Thank you for your service.
5) Tribal-Get Out Alive
What you see is what you get with Tribal-Get Out Alive. Its one of the most successful mashups of action and horror and sprinkle in the martial arts wow factor, you have the makings of a cult classic that will satisfy crowds looking for new entertainment during these troubling times. At 85 minutes, there is no room for boredom and it moves lighning quick especially in the latter stages and enthusiasts of both action and horror have something to cheer about with this one. Zara Phythian and Ross O’Hennessy work well together and it is their chemistry that really sells the film and hopefully we will get to see them again. With Tribal-Get Out Alive, it’s come for the horror and stay for the action!
4) The 2nd
I give you the latest shot of throwback action cinema in The 2nd which hails from the most unlikliest of sources in filmmaker Brian Skiba who has been credited by the media as a filmmaker who is up and coming. Skiba, up until now has pretty much dabbled in family friendly flicks but deep down inside, he’s a massive fan of testosterone laden action films just like you and me. With The 2nd, Skiba has crafted a wonderful homage to those films that filled Blockbuster shelves every week and with it he has brought some serious firepower in the form of Ryan Phillippe, who is coming off a successful stint on USA’s action series Shooter, and the one and onlt Casper Van Dien who really needs no introduction. The film had a modest budget to say the least and was made in arond 15 days which is nothIng short of phenominal. How do I know this? Well, he told me himself in our exclusive chat which you can listen to now on the Action Fix Podcast.
Phillippe has created a brand new action hero in Vic Davis and here’s hoping that we do see more of him in the future. It’s alot of fun and its intended target audience will totally get what Skiba is selling here. It’s no Oscar caliber stuff here folks but for what it is, it does just fine and will surely entertain on a Saturday night and if you’re looking for explosions, bullets and fists then you came to the right place.
3) Ip Man 4: The Finale
Alright, technically this film was released in China and the US last December but that’s close enough to include it on this list for 2020. Plus it has Yen Vs Adkins so that right there gives it a major pass in my book.
Ip Man 4: The Finale is the culmination of Donnie Yen’s long and historic career and if it is indeed the last hoorah in this genre for the star that its is a poetic and fitting tribute to the films that made him who he is today. Yen will still dish out the action for years to come in more mainstream action pics but it will always be this series of films that will mark his legacy. Add the fact that it has Scott Adkins in it makes it even more of the stuff dreams are made of and fans will be treated to one of the best endings to a franchise ever. When people were talking about how Star Wars was so screwed up on the same opening weekend, they really should have been talking about how this more quiet franchise has staked its claim to the film world and has served up much more than just epic fight sequences. Yen is a true master of his craft and this will be the series that he will best be known for. Like I said, it’s a beautiful and bone crunching love letter to the genre and one that should not be missed. Farewell Ip Man.
It’s hard to believe that when the original Skyline debuted in 2010 that we would be here today talking about the third and supposed final film in the slam bang sci-fi action franchise but alas here we are indeed talking about the newest entry titled Skylines or SKYLIN3S as it was originally named. Filmmaker Liam O’Donnell returns once again in the director’s chair and O’Donnell, who wrote, produced and did the visual effects for the first film, brings genre fans another shot of adrenalized action, special effects and thrills in what is the best entry in the series thus far.
I could talk about some of the imperfections of the movie but why bother as they pale in comparison to everything that the film delivers. Genre fans will get their full dose of sci-fi action extreme and Daniel Bernhardt not only shows up in the role of Owens but he delivers one of the best action performances of the year. Lyndsay Morgan is the real deal and she literally takes the movie and puts it on her shoulders because lets face it, she is the key to the entire plot and she kicks just as much ass as anyone else. Director Liam O’Donnell once again proves that he is fast becoming an action maestro and in no time I expect him to be helming a bigger budgeted Hollywood picture. Instead of checking out Monster Hunter, which sounds like a huge disappoint support this film and take in a good shot of fun sci-fi action entertainment. It may be December but Skylines is without question the big summer blockbuster that we never got this year!
Ever since I started my website nearly five years ago, one underlying theme I have always been a champion of is stunt professional and coordinators make the best action film directors because they know how to shoot action and they know what the audience wants to see when it comes to high-octane thrills and thrilling set pieces that are unmatched in scale and scope. When you think of stunt pros who have cut their teeth in the industry only to transition into filmmaking certain names pop up at will. Names like David Leitch, Chad Stahelski, and Jesse V. Johnson are certainly on the top of the list when having this conversation and now we can add one more to name to the argument in Sam Hargrave who has worked on several MCU projects and has doubled for Chris Evans as Captain America.
With our current situation these days, Extraction is a welcome addition to the action genre as it is locked and loaded with spectacular firefights, fisticuffs and exploding helicopters that fills its running time and leading man Chris Hemsworth is essentially the human form of the Energizer Bunny who just keeps going and going and going. The film gives audiences a much needed break from reality and with the extreme action on hand, this movie is going to be hard to top from any other upcoming projects on the horizon. Netflix has really hit the target with this one and Hemsworth cemments his overall action hero status in a film that is doubled barrel guns blazing from start to finish. It’s an action extravaganza at its finest and one that will become a true genre classic in the years to come. A lot of times, I have high expectations for a film only to be let down but here Extraction fully realizes those expectations in one bruising display of an action flick. This film is without a doubt in my top five all time now and it is a true master class in how to execute action on film.
There you have it! My picks in order of what I loved in action cinema this year. If anything, we definitely needed to be entertained this year and the above films were worth the price of admission in my eyes. Until next time, keep it locked and locked right here as we are your destination for everything action!!!