Fight or Flight--Action Films that Take Your Breath Away

From Atomic Blonde to Eastern Promises, we showcase movies with a real kick. 

Focus Features 08.04.2017
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In Atomic BlondeCharlize Theron explodes on screen as Lorraine Broughton, a British agent assigned to stop a top-secret dossier from falling into the hands of the KGB. After forging an uneasy alliance with the cunning, conniving station chief David Percival (James McAvoy), Broughton becomes an unstoppable one-woman force, cutting, kicking, punching a path through Cold War Berlin in a way that makes her, as Screenrush enthuses, “the hero we need right now.” Director David Leitch works with his powerhouse star to create, according to IGN, “some of the most kinetic action sequences the silver screen has ever seen.”

As we celebrate our 15th anniversary, we showcase some unforgettable action sequences from Focus films, scenes so bursting with energy and ingenuity that each, in its own way, redefines the action genre. 

Get tickets now for Atomic Blonde

See Atomic Blonde's nonstop action in its official trailer. 

Eastern Promises reveals the naked reality of a fight scene. 

David Cronenberg’s crime drama Eastern Promises unfolds with a bruising realism, as an undercover agent (Viggo Mortensen) finds himself caught in a cat-and-mouse game with a ruthless Russian mob family in London. One scene in which a very naked Mortensen is attacked by two Chechen thugs in a steam room, claims Roger Ebert, “sets the same kind of standard that The French Connection set for chases.” Cutting with a minimum of edits, Cronenberg allows the viewer to experience fully the scene’s violence and the vulnerability in Mortensen’s performance. “Viggo wasn't some Rambo who could cut anyone to shreds,” says stunt coordinator Julian Spencer. “This was a real man fighting for his life.”

Get Eastern Promises now on iTunes or at Amazon.

Viggo Mortensen bares all in an Eastern Promises' scene. 

Hanna learns early to hit first––and hard

Joe Wright’s Hanna, named as one of The Film Stage’s “best action movies of the 21st century,” sets a fast and furious pace early on and never lets go. Hanna (Saorise Ronan) is trained by her ex-CIA agent father (Eric Bana) to mirror her arctic world, expecting attacks from anything at any time. “She has learned a keen awareness from animals, how to survive and…live in the landscape,” explains Wright. Supervised by legendary stunt coordinator Jeff Imada, Ronan tells MTV News, "I trained for about two months before we started shooting, and I learnt new skills like knife fighting, stick fighting, how to shoot a gun, martial arts”—all which proved essential: “It was good fun, kicking the Hulk's ass!"

Get Hanna now on iTunes or at Amazon.

Saorise Ronan is up for a fight in Hanna.

Hot Fuzz turns a town square into a war zone.

In Hot Fuzz, Edgar Wright unleashes his lead cops—Nick Angel (Simon Pegg) and Danny Butterman (Nick Frost)––on the rustic village of Sandford with all the force and fury of a big-budget Hollywood action flick. The Film Stage names it as one of the “best action movies of the 21st century” for being “more fun than the films it parodies with such affection.” In one pivotal scene, “the Battle of Sandford,” nearly all of the 138 cop and action films that Wright and Pegg watched to write the screenplay seem to show up in some way or another.

Simon Pegg suits up for war in Hot Fuzz.

The Eagle brings back old fashion epic battle action.

Kevin Macdonald’s The Eagle is, according to the Village Voice, “a thunderous boys’ adventure of the old-school type… full of action and fleet of foot.” As a young Roman centurion (Channing Tatum) with the help of a Celtic warrior (Jamie Bell) attempts to redeem his father’s honor, he takes us into the mysterious world of ancient Britain, exploring, as Macdonald explains, “a specific part of history that has rarely been seen on the big screen before.” With 300 extras, 50 stunt men, and 12 chariots, the first battle scene brings to life that world's brutal fighting style, as Roman military precision attempts to defend itself against the rushing terror of ancient Britons. 

Get The Eagle now on iTunes or at Amazon.

Channing Tatum faces down the enemy in The Eagle.

The Place Beyond the Pines takes you on the ride of your life.

In Derek Cianfrance’s crime epic The Place Beyond the Pines, Ryan Gosling, a motorcycle stunt man whose taken to robbing banks, and Bradley Cooper, a young police officer trying to make a name for himself, find themselves literally on opposite ends of the law in a riveting chase sequence. Working with stunt master Brian Smyj, Gosling did much of the dangerous road driving himself. Cianfrance told Vanity Fair that reality shows like Cops and America’s Wildest Police Chases provided the style for the scene’s breaking-news realism, with us feeling every bump and skid of Gosling’s frantic escape through an actual cemetery.

Get The Place Beyond the Pines now on iTunes or at Amazon.

Director Cianfrance narrates how this action scene from The Place Beyond The Pines was created. 

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