Top 10 Best Unscripted Scenes in Action Movies
VOICE OVER: Ryan Wild
WRITTEN BY: Johnny Reynolds
You'll be shocked when you find out how many action movie moments were unscripted! For this list, we'll be looking at impromptu moments or lines in action movies that weren't originally part of the script. Our countdown includes “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw”, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”, "Die Hard", and more!
Top 10 Best Unscripted Scenes in Action Movies
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Best Unscripted Scenes in Action Movies.
For this list, we’ll be looking at impromptu moments or lines in action movies that weren’t originally part of the script. We won’t be including superhero movies as we’ve already done lists for DC films and the MCU.
Did you know about these improvised moments? What’s your favorite unscripted scene in an action movie? Let us know in the comments!
“Independence Day: Resurgence” (2016)
The sequel to 1996’s “Independence Day” didn’t exactly impress critics or audiences. But it was still a visual feast that showed it knew how to have some mindless fun. Jeff Goldblum seemingly had a fun time making the movie as well. During a climactic moment, an alien ship touches down over the Atlantic and begins to destroy everything in its path. With our heroes caught in the middle, they fly through debris and crumbling buildings. Narrowly escaping the falling London Eye on the River Thames, Goldblum’s David Levinson quips, “They like to get the landmarks.” The line was ad-libbed by Goldblum and it’s a clever nod towards the first movie.
#9: “Someday I Might”
“The Mummy” (1999)
“The Mummy” is a wonderful adventure filled with thrilling sequences and entertaining characters, even if some of them are despicable. Beni Gabor, of the despicable variety, is a coward who at one point betrays the heroes by helping the undead Imhotep. Even before this happens, Rick knows Beni to be no good, threatening to throw him off the side of a boat. Being the coward he is, Beni tells Rick to think of his children, to which Rick points out he has none. Beni’s humorous response was ad-libbed by Kevin J. O’Connor. Not only is it funny, but it also fits with how Beni would say or do anything to survive.
#8: Black Superman
“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” (2019)
The “Fast & Furious” franchise has seen its characters go up against some over-the-top bad guys, though one with actual superpowers is hard to beat. “Hobbs & Shaw” sees the two titular, unlikely allies team up to take down Idris Elba’s cybernetically enhanced Brixton Lore. Lore gives them both a run for their money throughout and even captures them at a certain point. During some electric interrogation, Lore taunts them by calling himself the black Superman. The original line had Lore calling himself the black James Bond. But as that’s the role many fans have been begging Elba to play, he felt more comfortable switching it to DC’s hero. It’s now one of the movie’s most noteworthy lines and was used in the marketing.
#7: The Strip Tease
“True Lies” (1994)
James Cameron has given us many fantastic movies over the years. His funniest is 1994’s action comedy “True Lies.” And one of its best moments wasn’t actually supposed to happen. In order to appease his lonely wife, spy Harry Tasker stages a mission to give her some adventure. Jamie Lee Curtis then performs a now-famous and completely improvised striptease for someone she thinks is a mark. Clearly trying something unfamiliar, she falls in the middle of the dance before hastily getting back up. The fall was unscripted and suggested by Cameron. But it fits extremely well with the circumstances, as does Harry’s fumbling of the tape recorder.
#6: Big-Ass Forehead
“Fast & Furious 6” (2013)
Dwayne Johnson is one of the most beloved action stars on the planet. Part of what makes him so popular is his ability to drip charisma, even when he isn’t planning on it. Towards the end of the sixth “Fast & Furious” entry, Johnson’s Hobbs shows up for the obligatory family barbecue. Roman, played by Tyrese Gibson, cracks a joke at Hobbs’s expense. Not missing a beat, Johnson ad-libbed the next line. Gibson’s shock and Ludacris’ spit take are genuine reactions to the funny line. It’s a small moment, but one that makes us love Johnson just a little bit more.
#5: The Arm Reload
“Mission: Impossible – Fallout” (2018)
Whether you prefer him as Superman or Geralt, Henry Cavill puts in the work to make his body suitable for larger-than-life characters. For his role as Agent Walker, Cavill improvised one simple movement to call attention to his impressive physique: the arm reload. Fans immediately picked up on and obsessed over the moment as soon as the “Fallout” trailer debuted. It happens during a grueling bathroom brawl where Cavill’s Walker and Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt face a deadly opponent. Even though the movie features the high caliber, jaw-dropping stunts the series is known for, this one tiny moment has become one of the most famous bits.
#4: “The Rest of His Life”
“Die Hard” (1988)
It’s hard to believe that “Die Hard” was Alan Rickman’s big-screen debut given the commanding presence of villain Hans Gruber. From the moment he came on screen, Rickman was destined for iconicism. One of his first vile acts is murdering Nakatomi Plaza’s head executive. Upon returning to the rest of the hostages, he taunts them with how easy this process should be. And he explains the death of their boss in a humorously macabre way. Gruber’s line about how Mr. Takagi won’t be joining them for the rest of his life was ad-libbed by Rickman. Combined with his brusque delivery, it gives the scene levity while remaining chilling. Rickman clearly understood how to play a proper villain.
#3: “I Don’t Care”
“The Fugitive” (1993)
Based on the ‘60s TV series of the same name, this 1993 thriller follows a man framed for his wife’s murder. While on the run in search of the real culprit, Richard Kimble must deal with Tommy Lee Jones’s ruthless Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard. During one confrontation, Gerard chases Kimble through a storm drain leading to a dam. After one last plea of innocence, Kimble is met by some incredibly cold words from Gerard: “I don’t care.” The script originally called for Gerard to say, “That isn’t my problem.” While both lines essentially have the same meaning, Jones’s ad-lib makes Gerard come off as a bit more unfeeling. He only cares about doing his job.
#2: A “Dr. No” Callback
“Casino Royale” (2006)
Daniel Craig’s debut as James Bond proved he could handle both the machismo and sex appeal the character always emitted. If there were ever any doubts of the latter, just look at the scene where Bond strolls out of the water in a tight blue swimsuit. Many fans likely thought this a loving callback to Honey Ryder’s introduction as the first Bond girl in the first movie, 1962’s “Dr. No.” But Craig later admitted that this scene was accidental. Bond was meant to swim in before floating away, but Craig stood up because there was a sandbar where they filmed. It may now stand as a reference to the classic first entry, but it came from a happy accident.
#1: The Gun Is Mightier Than the Sword
“Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981)
“Raiders of the Lost Ark” kickstarted a franchise and introduced the world to the now-iconic Indiana Jones. Harrison Ford’s portrayal made Indy one of his most beloved roles. Viewers delight in seeing him nearly escape death throughout the movie. And one instance has become one of the most famous scenes in cinema. After fighting off a group of goons, Indy is challenged by an imposing swordsman. But instead of a long, tense fight, he simply pulls out his gun and shoots him. There actually was supposed to be a fight, but Ford had taken ill and the scene was altered. Though he doesn’t say anything in the moment, Ford radiates exhaustion and nonchalance, which makes the scene all the sweeter.