Action movie releases A-Z by decade...
The template for the modern Action film was released in 1959 with Alfred Hitchcock's North By Northwest. The movie combined a big name star, (for their time) huge action set pieces and a plot-driven story that featured intrigue and espionage. It wasn't long though before Sean Connery became a household name as James Bond, taking the 60s Action genre by the scruff of the neck and single-handedly owning the box office with Dr.No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball and You Only Live Twice in an unprecedented run of success. Many tried to emulate, but few succeeded and only Steve McQueen could be considered a genuine alternative to Connery during the decade.
1960 - 1969 highlights include:
Action in the 1970s followed the overall movie making trend, as the old Studio System continued to break apart. A more realistic approach to the genre emerged and the Police Procedural plot-driven movie provided the perfect vehicle for actors like Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman to portray memorable characters in films that excited audiences. 1973 saw the release of Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon, the film that finally exposed Martial Arts movie making to the mainstream. John Carpenter gained attention with Assault on Precinct 13 and Burt Reynolds was the undisputed Action-Comedy movie star with his Smokey and the Bandit series.
1970 - 1979 highlights include:
The 1980s was THE decade for the Action genre. Big names in big movies was the name of the game. Female stars were almost non-existent as actors like Harrison Ford, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eddie Murphy, Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis became box office staple. The enduring James Bond franchise went through a generational change, as Roger Moore made way for a new, grittier Bond in Timothy Dalton. Stallone swapped Rocky for Rambo, as franchise movies became the bread and butter for all the major Hollywood studios.
1980 - 1989 highlights include:
The 90s were an interesting decade for the Action genre. The stars of the 1980s looked to diversify their careers while pedigreed actors such as Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro entered the fray. Prolific Producer Jerry Bruckheimer continued his phenomenal run of success with movies like Bad Boys, Crimson Tide, The Rock, Con Air and Armageddon. Among the highlights were Harrison Ford in the feature film adaptation of the TV series, The Fugitive. James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger re-teamed for the massively entertaining True Lies and French film maker Luc Besson made a critical and commercial impact with Leon: The Professional.
1990 - 1999 highlights include:
Matt Damon's Jason Bourne dominated the 2000s, as the hard-core amnesiac undercover operative punched, kicked and smashed his way through three films that have grown increasingly popular as time has gone on. The Fast and the Furious also kicked off and, after a couple of false starts, found its feet in the second half of the decade with Director Justin Lin and series Writer Chris Morgan taking the series to new heights. Perhaps the biggest news to come out of this decade was the re-emergence of James Bond. After the over-the-top antics of Pierce Brosnan's Die Another Day, Producers opted to cast Daniel Craig and ground 007 in a more realistic world. The result was Casino Royale, one of the best Bond movies ever made.
2000 - 2009 highlights include:
Everything old is new again and Action movies in the 2010s have proven that. The Expendables series has brought together just about every action movie star since the 1980s and, at least for the first couple of movies, delivered some retro-thrills that delivered big box office. Tom Cruise has shown with both Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation that there's plenty of life left in the IMF team and the 2012 50th Anniversary of James Bond delivered, arguably, the best Bond film ever made with Skyfall. Keanu Reeves had a career reusrgence with the high-octane, hyper-violent John Wick and Scarlett Johansson showed she can mix it with the best action stars in the hugely under-rated Lucy.