Summer Superlatives ’09: Top 5 Action movies

And at last, time for the final category of the summer and perhaps the season’s most beloved genre: best action films. 2009 was a rarity in this decade because it wasn’t dominated by superhero movies. Only one came out and it barely made the list, whereas last year there were three and I probably would have ranked them all in my top five.

 Instead, 2009 features some action dramas and some science fiction, a really nice change of pace. I also saw all five of these films and like the comedies, if I don’t link to the review, that means I’m waiting for the DVD release to post it.



 5. “X-Men Origins: Wolverine

 Much like the third X-Men movie, “Wolverine” packed in one too many superheroes and was more focused on special effects and stunts than the character it was supposed to be about. Nevertheless, for the first movie of the summer I was entertained by it. Hugh Jackman and Liev Schreiber worked great together and it was extremely satisfying to see Gambit make his way onto the screen – his scenes were some of the best. As to why he’s not getting his own movie and Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool is, I have no clue.



 4. “Public Enemies”

 Putting this in the action category when this was really a cat-and-mouse thriller mixed with drama feels a little strange, but the action scenes were among the best parts of this ‘30s gangster dress-up film. I had the neat experience of going to see the actual Wisconsin lodge that the film’s huge night action sequence took place at this summer – where it actually happened and it where it was filmed – and it brought home the historical angle of this film. It could have been better, but what a really cool change of pace for summer action movies. In a normal year, “Public Enemies” would never take the Wednesday before the Fourth of July, but this summer it could.



3.  “The Hurt Locker”

The only reason I don’t have “The Hurt Locker” higher is because this is foremost a top five action movie list and this film is too sophisticated and intelligent to be action ahead of drama, not vice-versa. Despite being No.3 on this list, it would easily make my top five movies of the summer. Rarely do we get an introspective action and suspense film that illuminates modern historical context. There hasn’t been a great movie about the Iraq War and if I were going to be a history teacher in twenty years, I would certainly use this film to teach the class. It gives you a sense of embedded journalism and part of the reason soldiers signed up. Read all my comments here.



 2. “District 9”

When I first saw the trailer for “District 9” I was impressed by the visuals but skeptical because I’d heard nothing about it prior to the summer. “Peter Jackson presents” didn’t exactly hook me by the balls like it did some people, but in retrospect maybe I should’ve let it. (Although I guess by that principle I have to see “The Lovely Bones” this winter). What a refreshingly original sci-fi story with plenty of action and all with a tight budget. If this is possible with only $30 million, think of all the great original action movies we could have in the future. The fact that “District 9” makes it up near the top of the list is a fantastic middle finger at movies like “G.I. Joe” and “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and I love that. Read all my comments here.



 1. “Star Trek”

What hasn’t J.J Abrams touched and not turned to gold? “Cloverfield” got mixed response (although I was a big fan) and LOST is one of TVs best, so imagine my excitement to find out he was taking the reigns of the “Star Trek” reboot. This re-creation was everything “Star Trek” needed to succeed in the 21st Century (ironically). Young but talented actors and a great origin story with top-notch special effects and “Star Trek” became 2009’s first completely legitimate hit. It might not have been as original and creative, but it was the only film to exist already in pop culture that was truly great and it deserves that kind of kudos.





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