Dirty Harry (1971)

The ransom rescue sequence in Dirty Harry (1971) clearly reveals how filmmakers can innovate the rescue scenario. On the hand, the sequence exhibits the prototypical character roles associated with the rescue scenario. The sequence features the captive — the kidnapped girl buried in the ground, the rescuer — Inspector Harry Callahan entrusted to deliver the ransom, and the captor — Scorpio the kidnapper who demands $200,000 in ransom for the release of the girl. On the other hand, the rescuing action presented in the sequence takes on a significantly different form. Instead of literally liberating the captive from their state of captivity, the rescuer in this instance provides a ransom to the captor in the belief that they will follow through on the release of the captive.

Face/Off (1997)

The final act set piece in Face/Off (1997) features John Woo’s signature action staging, initially developed in the 1980s heroic bloodshed cycle, as noted in the action profile for A Better Tomorrow (1986), and offers amongst the most notable boat chases in film history. Along the way Woo offers a Mexican standoff and a pursuit sequence that not only reveals changes in mode of pursuit but also a clear illustration how action scenarios can combine horizontally.

Lethal Weapon (1987)

The El Mirage Lake shootout featured in Lethal Weapon (1987) closes in a manner typical of 3rd acts in mainstream films, namely through an all-is-lost moment. The moment is dramatically heightened given that it constitutes a reversal of Roger Murtaugh and Martin Riggs’ original rescue plan to save Murtaugh’s daughter Rianne from the hands of Shadow Company, an ex-special forces unit involved in drug smuggling.

Nobody (2021)

One of the ways that action films make themselves distinctive is by defamiliarizing the genres on which they are based through unique genre combinations. Nobody (2021) does so by combining elements from the espionage film with that of the gangster movie, a sub-genre of the crime film. This combination assumes its primary shape through the film’s protagonist-antagonist structure.