Top 10 Opening Action Scenes

Cal picks his favourite explosion-heavy openings of all time. Did yours make the cut? 

10. The Expendables II (2012)

Probably a bit of an unpopular choice, but I still love the entire set-piece which opens this highly entertaining action movie.

The massive shootout in the middle of this third-world town, escaping said town into the forest where more piss-ants are killed, before finishing with an exciting escape along a river where there’s more carnage and ‘splosions. Director Simon West said he needed to top the first movie with this opening gambit, and my goodness he does a great job!

9. Lethal Weapon 3 (1992)

I fucking love this scene. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover at the top of their game again, working to defusing a bomb which fails spectacularly. The bantering is priceless during the scene, and the icing on top is Gibson saying “GRAB THE CAT” before the building explodes spectacularly.


8. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

The opening of Terminator 2 is incredibly awesome. The movie itself is of mixed quality (well, depending who you ask), but nobody can deny the effectiveness of the opening future war sequence, which is dark and awesome in all the right ways.

These few minutes are better than anything in Terminator Salvation.

7. Face/Off (1997)

Ah, John Woo.

The full scene isn’t on YouTube, but the full airport shootout to open this classic action movie is bloody awesome. And I do mean bloody.

6. Cobra (1986)

Who doesn’t love the opening of Cobra?

In one of Stallone’s best action roles, he rolls up to a grocery store in the midst of a hostage crisis, stands up to the gunman, kills him, and has some time for one-liners as well.

“Get back! I got a bomb here! I’ll blow this whole place up!”
“Go ahead. I don’t shop here.”

Classic Stallone.

5. Shoot ‘Em Up (2007)

The opening of Shoot ‘Em Up is the best part of the whole movie. Without much in the way of build-up, Clive Owen decides he’ll protect this pregnant lady and engages in a violent, over-the-top, gloriously awesome shootout with some random thugs.

I mean, no other action movie opens with the hero shoving a carrot through some dude’s mouth to kill him, delivering a baby in the midst of a firefight, severing the baby’s umbilical cord with a bullet, and spelling out “Fuk U” with neon lights.

It’s fun, exciting, and very funny. I love it.

4. GoldenEye (1995)

Again, the full scene isn’t available on YouTube, but just showing the bungee jump is good enough.

I adore the opening of Goldeneye. Following the leap, Bond infiltrates a weapons facility, meets 006, and eventually engages in a very nice firefight with various Russians. Then, following 006’s death, Bond escapes the facility in a very exciting way by chasing a plane in free fall and managing to pull up. It’s awesome, and it’s all very well done by director Martin Campbell.

3. Hard Boiled (1992)

Where would this list be without even more John Woo?

The opening of Hard Boiled is one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen. Made before the digital age, it’s wonderful to watch Woo’s imagination run wild, with shooting and blood aplenty. It’s perfectly orchestrated and an ideal way to open this kick-ass action movie.

2. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Another choice that should surprise absolutely nobody. Whilst this is technically more of a war movie than an action movie, the Omaha Beach sequence is one helluva combat depiction nevertheless. The violence pulls absolutely no punches, and you’re drawn into this scene very quickly. It’s completely riveting.

1. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

There shouldn’t be any shocks here. The opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark is absolute perfection. The atmosphere is established immediately, and before long, we’re thrust into danger and excitement as Indy is running and fighting for his life. Harrison Ford is the perfect anchor here; a believable man of action on top of being a charismatic Indiana Jones.

C’mon, who doesn’t love that boulder scene?




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