Random Thought: 2011 - A Year Of Great Action, Poor Plots?

Just a random thought, but did anybody else notice that 2011 had a lot of movies with excellent action, but that were lacking in other areas? I mean, here are 10 movies, for instance, where I found this to be quite clear. (The order of films is unimportant. I'm just listing them out.)

1) I Am Number Four

It was a very average and lackluster film, but mostly because of characters and story, etc. However, the action itself, especially near the climax, was actually pretty good. It wasn't the greatest (especially in comparison to the others on this list), but it was pretty good. Everything else needed a lot of work, though.

2) Drive Angry

A film that split a lot of people. You either loved it or hated it. I personally loved it. I mean, I won't deny that the story or the characters weren't all that spectacular (except for William Fichtner). But there were some great action sequences that really brought the movie together for me.

3) Battle: Los Angeles

To me, this movie was a lot like Black Hawk Down in numerous ways. It was an overly simplistic story with undeveloped characters... but it was pure action that actually looked pretty dang good.

4) Sucker Punch

Now this was a movie that pissed off a lot of people. Now, I really liked it when I first saw it, but I understand where everybody else was coming from. There's really no point in discussing this film any more because everybody has talked it to death. You know it was stunning to look at, you know the action was fantastic... but it lacked everywhere else imaginable.

5) Transformers 3

I'm sure you knew this one was going to end up here. Unlike the last installment of the 'trilogy', this one had some good moments, particularly in the last 30 minutes or so. But it's also Michael Bay... and does anybody actually remember what this movie was about? I know I don't.

6) Conan the Barbarian

Holy crap was this movie painful. It suffered everywhere... but it did have moments of pretty damn good action. It was the one positive thing I think I said about this movie.

7) Immortals

This one saddens me, because it's gorgeous to look at and has probably some of the best action sequences of the year. But everything in between the action scenes... leaves you a little wanting. Still, I think the visuals and action alone escalate this film to being one of my favorites of the year, despite the lackluster story and characters.

8) Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Very similar to the previous film on this list, it has some of the best action of the year... but everything in between is moderately lackluster.

9) Warrior

I recently reviewed this one, so you can just read that for more details. I'll just say I haven't seen a more cliched and dully written film with such great action (and, to be fair, great performances).

10) Drive

Oh yeah, I went there. One of the most beloved films of 2011 fits the bill, as well... probably closely related to the previous title on this list. It has cliches and is your basic heist-gone-wrong/revenge story. The characters (outside of the hardly-says-a-word Driver) are rather basic. But the action? Stylish and brutal.

Final note: I just found it interesting not many other people seemed to pick up on this. I mean, I know every year has movies like this; I just think it was more abundant this year than I've seen in a long time. And there are most likely even more than I listed here. There were just a lot of flicks this year that had great action, but needed a little more polishing in one or more other departments. Any reasons why you think this has happened? Thoughts in general?


  1. Nice post Nick and I agree for the most part. Immortals was a feast from a visual standpoint but certainly the plot left to be desired.

    I'm with you on Drive Angry. It's pretty terrible but in an awesome sort of way.

    As for Battle: Los Angeles, the plot was so bland it was painful but you are right, I actually liked how it portrayed the situation in a somewhat realistic manner from a military standpoint.

  2. I just thought this happens every year. I'm sure I could easily find 10 flicks from 2010 that have supposedly great action that otherwise suck and/or are mediocre. Most action films fit this bill, sadly...

    Of course, "great action" is a pretty damn subjective term. Drive Angry had the sex/gunfight, but what else was "great" about the action?

  3. Everything! I just re-watched it last night, and I still maintain it has some fun action sequences throughout.

  4. Great list to keep us thinking,Nick ;)

    You know, I haven't watched all of them...my movie viewing had changed this year.I am more interested with movies with great story than great action. But I am curious with Drive.

    Ps. your book is in my top-5 list,if you're interested to know ;)


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