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.

Speedway (1929)

As an early automotive racing film, it is no surprise that the central action scenario in Speedway (1929) is speed. This holds true as well for the film’s climactic set piece, the Decoration Day Race, that takes up most of the final act. This sequence is significant for the ways that it depicts speed and risk but also successfully manages to weave a dramatic story through the race.

Straight Shooting (1917)

Straight Shooting (1917) was made during a period when the film conventions of the western genre were solidifying. Among these conventions was the duel that takes on a different complexion in the film given it is neither a fast draw nor involves pistols. Instead Cheyenne Harry, the protagonist of the film, and Placer Fremont a hired gunslinger, use rifles and engage with each other by stealth.

Tenet (2020)

Tenet (2020) is without a doubt among the most innovative espionage-sci-fi films ever produced. While time travel in sci-fi films is not new, the film features technology that can reverse entropy permitting objects and characters to travel backwards in time. This premise departs from the standard ways time travel is depicted in film, namely by presenting scenes where objects and characters traveling forward through time interact with objects and characters traveling in the reverse temporal direction. The film’s action scenarios are given a novel twist as a result of this narrative premise. In the film, fights, battles, and rescues feature forward and reversed temporality fundamentally altering the narrative logic of these action scenarios and extending what can be imaginatively conceived when staging action for the screen.

The Wild Bunch (1969)

Despite being a late entry into the western genre, given its long history, The Wild Bunch (1969) manifests action scenario variations revealing how they are shaped by genre. Amongst the most notable of these is the dragged-by-a-horse stunt, a variation of the speed scenario, that often showcases its danger for both stuntperson and character.