Hottest Action Movies of 2013
Hottest Action Movies of 2013
2013 turned out to be a great year for fans of action films. From the comic franchises that have been dominating the box office for the last few cycles to science fiction and genre films, action has never been bigger or more spectacular. Several releases in the summer of 2013 stood out above the rest, however.
"Iron Man 3"
The Marvel Cinematic Universe remains the gold standard in comic book films, and "Iron Man 3" is a perfect illustration of just why they have maintained their position. Robert Downey Jr. returns as Tony Stark, broken and battered by the events of "The Avengers" and not sure he can handle being a hero anymore. After a terrorist attack leaves him without his empire of resources, he has to get back to basics to save the country. The high point of the movie is definitely the unique take on the Mandarin, an age-old Iron Man villain played by the brilliant Sir Ben Kingsley.
The Marvel mutant franchise stumbled a bit in the late 2000s, but 2013's "The Wolverine" brought it back in a big way. Hugh Jackman's Logan is as gruff and brooding as ever when he returns to revisit his past in Japan and ends up caught in a scheme to remove the immortality that has been such a blessing and a curse for hundreds of years. The film's action is furious and over the top, with scenes like a high-stakes duel against assassins on the top of a bullet train. The home video release contains an Easter egg leading into the upcoming "X-Men: Days of Future Past" film.
"Man of Steel"
DC Comics didn't miss an opportunity in 2013, rebooting the troubled Superman franchise with "Man of Steel." Director Zack Snyder reintroduces audiences to the Last Son of Krypton, pitting him against the last remaining members of his own race to protect his adopted homeworld. Michael Shannon plays General Zod, offering a wild new take on a character so memorably played by Terence Stamp in the original Superman films. The epic battle between the two Kryptonians will serve as the starting point for a new cycle of comic films, with Ben Affleck playing Batman opposite Henry Cavill's Superman.
Fans of Guillermo del Toro know he doesn't do anything halfway, and when he decided to make a love letter to the giant-monster genre, the result was suitably awesome. "Pacific Rim" tells the story of a world devastated by monsters that make Godzilla look like a cuddly teddy bear, and the humans have resorted to developing giant robots to fight the alien threat. Extensive special effects and action sequences paint a picture of humanity on the edge, and there are no cardboard buildings or rubber suits this time around for comic relief. "Pacific Rim" is dark, stark, and exciting from opening to credits.
"Fast & Furious 6"
The "Fast & Furious" franchise grew out of a somewhat forgettable street racing film, and while it may have stumbled a bit along the way, the most recent films in the series have been solid, entertaining action blockbusters. The cast has become a who's who of action stars, bringing back old favorites like Vin Diesel and introducing legends like Dwayne Johnson to the storyline. "Fast & Furious 6" sees the crew of expert thieves and drivers working to take down a ruthless criminal in exchange for clearing their names and records and earning a chance to get their old lives back. Complicating matters is the presence of Michelle Rodriguez's Letty, long thought dead but apparently stricken with amnesia and working for their target. The high-speed heists are appropriately breathtaking, and while a few of the action sequences are a bit over the top, this isn't the genre for people who feel the need to nitpick about things like the laws of physics.
"The World's End"
One of the most surprising action hits of the summer was Edgar Wright's "The World's End," the capstone to his "Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy." The film stars Simon Pegg as Gary King, a middle-aged wastrel trying to revisit his glory days, and Nick Frost as Andy Knightley, his long-suffering best friend who's all but written him off. Gathering the rest of their old mates, they head back home for one last drinking binge, only to find things in the village are a little stranger than they remembered. When the truth of the situation reveals itself, "The World's End" transforms from a comedy about reclaiming youth into a science fiction kung-fu extravaganza, with the actors showing off some surprisingly good action chops as the stakes rise. A great action film with a surprising amount of heart and more than enough embarrassing 1990s nostalgia for anyone who survived that decade.