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Top 10 Action Movies That Needed More Action

VO: Dan Paradis

Script written by Q.V. Hough

In terms of exposition and action, these movies failed to find the right balance. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 action movies that needed more action. For this list, we’re focusing on films that appeared to fall into the category of action, but didn’t come as advertised.

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Script written by Q.V. Hough

Top 10 Action Movies That Needed More Action

In terms of exposition and action, these movies failed to find the right balance. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 action movies that needed more action.
For this list, we’re focusing on films that appeared to fall into the category of action, but didn’t come as advertised. We’re not saying that all of our entries are bad films, but they did leave us wanting a little more bang for our buck.

#10: “The Gunman” (2015)

For an action film that references a firearm in the title, one might expect the guns to be a-blazin’. That is not the case in Pierre Morel’s film starring Sean Penn. Maybe it’s the French influence that seemingly bogs down the first hour of exposition, or perhaps Morel hoped to differentiate “The Gunman” from his action-packed film “Taken.” But as the backstories are established, there’s little to smile upon or to further reel viewers in. In other words, “The Gunman” is a little too smart for a supposed action film, or at least it’s trying to be. And so, the title misrepresents the actual content of the film.

#9: “FANT4STIC” (2015)

While the previous “Fantastic Four” movies were far from phenomenal, they did at least aim to entertain their target audience. For the 2015 reboot, however, a spectacular ensemble cast sadly felt the wrath of a boring superhero narrative. One can’t necessarily blame director Josh Trank for taking a more serious approach with the fun-loving series, but then again, one could also choose never to return to the “Fantastic Four” franchise after this troubling and utterly boring fiasco. Whereas fans expected humor and excitement, “Fantastic Four” delivers a mundane collection of tedious conversations.

#8: “Dirty Harry” (1971)

Okay, so the cultural influence of this Clint Eastwood classic has been established time and time again, but that’s not to say that “Dirty Harry” couldn’t be improved. Stemming from the infamous Zodiac killings, the film takes a smart and procedural approach, but the appeal is more in its style rather than its heavy use of action tropes. Sure, there’s some clever dialogue and a gritty ‘70s visual aesthetic, but the thriller could easily bore viewers more concerned with traditional genre themes than psychological studies. As a cop film, it’s got a place in history. As a pure actionfilm, though, it could use a little bit more action.

#7: “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” (2014)

Given the success of the franchise’s first two films, not many expected the third installment to be such a flop. And in all honesty, it wasn’t - at least not completely, especially considering the star power of Jennifer Lawrence. Yet, “Mockingjay – Part 1” – with all its themes of revolution and retribution – is essentially a primer for the finale. While there are certainly moments of action, the narrative involves more exposition and dialogue and less Katniss doing what she does best. Sure, loyal viewers knew what to expect, but the film left many with an itch that still needed to be scratched.

#6: “Superman Returns” (2006)

When it comes to superhero updates, there’s a certain sense of comfort that emerges through nostalgic direction. Or, in the case of Superman, it feels good to be reminded of the good ol’ days. Despite the visual polish of Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns,” the film harkens a bit too far back to the past rather than catering to the more action-oriented crowd. It’s a tough balance to find, as less talented filmmakers often try too hard to be original and fresh. There’s plenty to enjoy with this Clark Kent flick, but it’s steeped more in humanism than the pure action many moviegoers expected.

#5: “The International” (2009)

Directed by the man behind “Run Lola Run” - undoubtedly an action thriller classic - this film explains itself to viewers rather than stepping on the gas. Like many other modern action flicks, “The International” relies more on forced dialogue than giving the people what they want: action. Of course, the troubling acting performances themselves don’t help much, but the inherent problem is that Tom Tykwer’s (tick-vah) film didn’t come through on the promise of the trailers. The ingredients are there, but once again, the sense of faux sophistication smothers the action aesthetic.

#4: “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” (2007)

For any action film, big budget or small, a sense of pacing is crucial. Yet, when the third installment of Johnny Depp’s Disney franchise hit theaters, viewers were snoozing more than they were losing themselves in excitement. It’s not that Depp and director Gore Verbinski don’t know their craft. It’s that viewers expected swashbuckling and thrills and not Captain Jack Sparrow talking to himself. There IS action, of course, asthat’s the fundamental driving force of the franchise, yet there’s simply not enough in this flick, especially considering the nearly three-hour run time.

#3: “The Hunt for Red October” (1990)

After a full decade of iconic ‘80s action flicks starring Van Damme, Stallone, and Schwarzenegger, this movie didn’t quite pack a punch like so many expected. When the central theme of your action film revolves around a conflict between the Soviets and Americans, there better be a steady amount of said action. Unfortunately, “The Hunt for Red October” is full of suspense, but not necessarily excitement. So while the plot may look good on paper, the visuals and narrative arc did little justice to the genre, perhaps raising more questions than anything else. Nevertheless, seeing Sean Connery on the silver screen is always a thrill.

#2: “Miami Vice” (2006)

Based on the iconic television series, this big screen adaptation took more of a stylistic approach instead of building on the fun of its predecessor. Under the guidance of Michael Mann, though, the risk seemed justified to some. While the neo-noir vibe and emphasis on dialogue might have pleased critics for the most part, when it comes to the genre, the film strayed heavily from pure action. That may not necessarily be a bad thing, especially with the likes of Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx in the lead roles, but there’s an obvious disconnect from the original source material. “Miami Vice” thus requires a second viewing, as it’s more of a character study than a shoot 'em up escapade.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable – or in this case dishonorable - mentions.
- “Green Lantern” (2011)
- “Ant-Man” (2015)
- “Speed 2: Cruise Control” (1997)

#1: “Mad Max” (1979)

As the world evolves, so do the needs and wants of moviegoers. This is evidenced by the spectacular success of 2015’s “Mad Max: Fury Road,” arguably one of the best action flicks of modern times. Yet, back in 1979, the original “Mad Max” was more of an acquired taste, partially because it had the relatively unknown Mel Gibson in the lead. Once again, the auteur filmmaking style displayed here is most definitely not a bad thing, but “Mad Max” takes some time to get revved up. And so, once George Miller stepped back into the director’s chair over three decades later for the fourth installment, he understood how to speed things up for a more accessible and focused action film narrative.
Do you agree with our list? Which action flick do you think is a bit (or a lot) dull? For more cinematic Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to

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