Best Action Sequences of the 2000s, Ranked The Talks Today

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Best Action Sequences of the 2000s, Ranked
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Best Action Sequences of the 2000s, Ranked

The 2000s: the decade Bush and Blair, through some puzzling events that were seemingly fueled by their own egotism, bewildering midlife crises, and yearning for Middle Eastern bloodshed, waged war on Iraq and terror. It was a period of great economic uncertainty, and a global recession not seen since the 1930s. It was also a time of the natural disaster, with the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami ravaging communities in-and-around the Indian Ocean, as well as Hurricane’s Katrina and Rita.

Perhaps these negative world events had something to do with the rousing, global actionsequences in films from the 2000s, with now classic American action movies set everywhere from Rome and Tokyo to Bruges and the fictional Middle Earth. There were some darn good action sequences in the 2000s, so let’s take a look at the best.


8 Gladiator – Maximus Takes on Tigris and the Tigers


Gladiator is a film full of unforgettable action sequences, including Maximus’ exclamation to the stunned albeit mightily overawed attendees, “Are you not entertained?!” Aside from the opening battle between the Romans and the Barbarians, there is one scene that takes the crown. During the latter stages of Ridley Scott’s iconic historical drama, Maximus takes on the undefeated warrior, Tigris. A true giant of a man, with a formidable reputation for his gladiatorial prowess, Tigris dwarfs Maximus in the film’s take on David vs. Goliath.

With the addition of attempting to dodge hungry tigers, as well as the 200lb beast trying to decapitate him in front of the evil Emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), Maximus’ fearless tenacity in the art of combat is tested like never before in what is a brilliantly executed piece of filmmaking.

7 Taken – “I Will Find You, and I Will Kill You”

Liam Neeson in 2008's Taken

Taken is a film that one could take an educated guess at half the world’s population being able to quote a line from; another mildly educated guess would have one decipher it’s one of either “I will find you, and I will kill you” or “I have a very particular set of skills,” although the bookmakers have stopped taking bets on that one.

Related: 14 Best Liam Neeson Movies, Ranked

One spine-tingling moment ingeniously cuts between a tense action sequence and the man listening to it halfway across the globe, when Bryan Mills’ daughter is kidnaped by traffickers while she is hiding under the bed while on the phone to her father. While Kim (Maggie Grace) is gagged and restrained, Neeson’s authoritative words palpably reverberate, characterizing the entire film.

6 Kill Bill – The Bride vs. The Crazy 88

Kill Bill Volume 1

It simply wouldn’t be a complete list without an appreciative nod to director Quentin Tarantino and the remarkable choreography involved in the creation of this scene from Kill Bill: Vol. 1. Uma Thurman, in her distinctive yellow tracksuit that she famously disliked as The Bride, takes on the seemingly endless number of O-Ren’s trained samurai sword-wielding assassins in the film’s monochromatic climax. Shot in a visually stunning black and white, paying homage to the martial arts flicks of the ’60s and ’70s, the sequence has a real Tarantino trademark to it.

5 The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – The Battle of the Morannon

Battle of the Black Gate - Lord of the Rings
New Line Cinema

Arguably the most memorable scene in the entire Lord of the Rings franchise is partly due to the fact it occurs during the trilogy’s climax in Return of the King, but also because it is by its very definition: epic. The Battle of the Morannon, perhaps better known as the Battle of the Black Gate, ensues at the gates of Mount Doom, as the allies make one final attempt to divert the omnipotent gaze of Sauron, so that Sam and Frodo can conclude their perilous mission and destroy the ring. Unsurprisingly, the film won 11 Academy Awards, including the accolades for Best Visual Effects and Best Editing, two of the many cinematic attributes which made the Battle of the Morannon an all-absorbing, palpably tense affair.

4 Casino Royale — Crane Fight Scene

Casino Royale- Parkour Chase
Sony Pictures

After this nerve-tantalizing scene in Casino Royale, Daniel Craig earned the nickname “Daniel Crane,” mostly from single dads, who deal in dad jokes, and whose wives have just left them for their personal trainer. Craig’s highly-regarded debut as the hypermasculine British spy saw him climb, fight, and jump from the heartstrings of those afflicted with vertigo as he did battle several hundred feet off the ground.

Related: Skyfall at 10: Best Bond Movie From Craig or Of All Time?

The intense Parkour sequence, which had the adrenaline junkies sweating, blushing (and goodness knows what else) with excitement, saw Bond scale a crane and fight with the impressively acrobatic enemy, before giving chase through an active construction site in one of the most explosive scenes of the decade.

3 Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – Helm’s Deep

Battle of Helms Deep in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
New Line Cinema

While the Battle of the Morannon is probably the most important and well-designed in The Lord of the Rings, arguably the most action-packed, bloodiest, and most brutal battle throughout the entire three-movie saga is the Battle of Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers. Not only is the action between the Orcs of Isengard and the men of Rohan goose-pimple-provoking, but the scale and attention to detail of the special effects are mind-blowing. The battle is certainly a lesson in all not being lost.

2 Shaun of the Dead – Don’t Stop Me Now Pub Scene

Shaun of the Dead-1

In one of the best horror movies of the 2000s, Shaun, Ed, Liz, and their small entourage of apocalyptic escapees remain held up in The Winchester, as they attempt to avoid detection and find refuge from the zombified madness occurring outside in Shaun of the Dead. After Ed unintentionally alerts the elephantine hearing of the zombies, the group, armed with pool cues, darts, and an antique shotgun have to ward off a zombie onslaught to the soundtrack of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.” It’s a wonderfully done fight sequence, made all the more impressive by the musical editing and use of character-based comedy.

1 In Bruges – Canal Chase

Man in suit looking concerned or puzzled
Universal Pictures

In Bruges isn’t a movie remembered for its dramatic stunts and monumental set plays, and in comparison to its fellow entrants, it’s a relatively slow-moving and contemplatively funny film. There were better ‘action’ films in the 2000s, sure, but few action scenes come from masterpieces as good as this. However, in director Martin McDonagh’s black comedy, the action sequence that occurs happens to be an enthralling foot-chase with life-and-death consequences, and one of the most exhilarating action scenes of the decade.

After Ray (Colin Farrell) is mercilessly hunted down by the psychopathic Harry (Ralph Fiennes) through the narrow, pebbled streets of Bruges in all its gothic, medieval glory. In a moment the film meticulously builds up to, the suspense and the drama don’t disappoint, and McDonagh’s ingenious methods simultaneously sustain both the dry comedic undertones of the movie while creating a tangibly tense atmosphere.