Art by Travis Wilker
As another year comes to a close, we must reflect on all the ass we saw kicked and the whoopings dealt. These are the annual Action Hero Power Rankings. Let us feast.
Some rules, most of which we’ll break.
Rule #1: All candidates must be lead performers.
Rule #2: There is no limit to the number of candidates, but in the spirit of competition we’ll keep it tight.
Rule #3: There isn’t an exact science to quantifying ass-kicking, but I did take into account box office numbers and the overall amount of ass-kicking on display.
Alright, let’s get to ass whooping!
5. Liam Neeson – The Commuter
I’m so happy we live in a world where Liam Neeson is a regular attendee on the action hero power rankings. HIs entry this year, The Commuter, is a lot of fun thanks to Neeson’s natural gravitas and urgency in action material and the exciting direction by Jaume Collet-Serra. I hope Neeson remains an active participant in these rankings for all his years.
Iconic Moment: There’s a part where Liam Neeson fights off a dude with an electric guitar and I’m so blessed that I get to type that that happens in a film starring Liam Neeson. Liam Neeson has to fight this guy and the closest thing to him is a fucking electric guitar so he grabs it and wins a fist fight with it which is just amazing.
4. Logan Marshall-Green – Upgrade
One of my favorite surprises of the year was this underseen Blumhouse project, which was mismarketed as a horror film because of Blumhouse’s reputation rather than the gonzo action/sci-fi film it is. And what wonderful action it has, writer/director Leigh Whannell filming much of it like a go-pro on cocaine, all toplined by a terrific performance by Logan Marshall-Green who pulls off the feat of performing action sequences while pretending he doesn’t have any control of his body. More Logan Marshall-Green please.
Iconic Moment: There’s a part where STEM is offline for a while so Grey can’t move around and then it comes back online right before Grey is about to be killed and he does a bunch of front flips and whoops ass and it all ends with him blowing a dude’s head off. Go watch Upgrade.
3. Jason Momoa – Braven
Braven was the action film I’ve been waiting for from Jason Momoa, and is also the DTV action film of the year. It makes terrific use of the human PED that Momoa is as well as his natural charisma and charm. No irony or hyperbole, Braven is in my top 25 of the year.
Iconic Moment: There’s a part where Jason Momoa throws a flaming axe at a dude with a shotgun and lights the dude on fire. That’s just amazing. He brought a flaming axe to a shotgun fight and won. He has my eternal respect and love for that.
2. Joe Taslim – The Night Comes For Us
This might be the goriest action film I’ve ever seen. There’s blood and guts in this that would put any Saw film to shame, it’s truly impressive. Timo Tjahjanto transfers his horror chops ably into the action world, creating a gnarly and unforgettable work. As much as I’d like to give a ranking spot to Iko Uwais or Julie Estelle, these ranking spots for an action hero are like Highlanders – there can only be one. We must adhere to the rules, only one action hero power ranking spot per film, and that belongs to our man Joe Taslim, finally getting his lead role after all these years. Part of the The Raid family, he went on to lend his talents as henchmen in Fast & Furious 6 and Star Trek Beyond before returning to front another Indonesian action masterpiece.
Iconic Moment: The final fight is between Joe Taslim and Iko Uwais, which is the stuff of dreams. These are two masters of their craft doing what they are best at, kicking ass.
1. Tom Cruise – Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Me and my buddy Huston’s 3 best moments of the year are as ranked: 1. Ricky Rubio triple-double playoff game 2. The Timberwolves implode 3. The bathroom fight in Mission: Impossible – Fallout. I love you Tom Cruise.
Iconic Moment: The whole fucking film. I love you Tom Cruise.