Art by Travis Wilker
One of the things me and my buddy Huston love most in life are dumb action films, and when it comes to them, the more ridiculous the tagline, the better. We’re constantly texting each other pictures of them when we come across them. He joked a few weeks ago that I should do a power ranking of them, and now that I have absolutely nothing better to do, you get this. He gets a writing credit on this too for helping curate some of these choice cuts, some which I had totally forgotten about. Let’s get to it.
13. Wild Card
“Never Bet Against a Man With a Killer Hand.”
I always love super punny taglines like this that just go all in on the specifics of the film’s setting. Wild Card is a lot of fun, and there’s a part where Jason Statham cuts open a dude’s forehead with a credit card so it’s amazing.
“There Are No Clean Getaways.”
That’s a cold tagline. Puts the stakes just right up front.
“12 Hours. $10 Million. 1 Kidnapped Daughter.”
If you only had three things to tell me to sell me on a film, it would be the three things listed in this tagline. Now those are some fucking stakes. I’m watching this film if those three things are involved.
“Crime is a Disease. Meet the Cure.”
Cobra is a masterpiece and one of my favorite 80s films. This tagline accurately gets you pumped for it. And this movie is so great it’s got a second tagline!: “The Strong Arm of the Law.” Look at that poster and that tagline and tell me you’re not fucking jacked to watch this.
9. Next of Kin
“A Chicago Cop from the Hills of Kentucky. Hunting his Brother’s Killer. Seeking Justice Country Style.”
I should note: I’ve never seen Next of Kin. But boy oh boy do I want to after reading that tagline. That tagline is a seller.
“It’s Cop-Killer Versus Killer-Cop.”
Now that’s how you set a film up. I just want you to know how amazing Blitz is. This is how it starts: Jason Statham looks out his window and sees some teens fucking around with a car on the street so he takes a hurling stick and beats the shit out of them and then goes “If you’re gonna pick the wrong fight, you better bring the right weapon.” and holy shit that’s how you start a film.
“Part Man. Part Machine. All Cop.”
What an incredible tagline. It tells you everything you need to know in just six words. This tagline is what all action film taglines are derivative from, it’s like The Godfather of action film taglines.
6. The Maltese Falcon
“A Story as Explosive as His Blazing Automatics!”
This is one of personal favorites because I’m a sucker for all that noir shit. I used to have an action film column on a website called “His Blazing Automatics” which of course was in reference to this amazing tagline.
“Not Man. Not Machine. More.”
The film does a great job at nodding to RoboCop, which it’s clearly influenced by, without ripping it off at all. This tagline does the same for the classic “Part Man. Part Machine. All Cop.”
“Drive Fast. Think Faster.”
The only way this would have been better is if they had switched it to “Think Fast. Drive Faster.”
3. John Wick: Chapter 2
“Never Stab the Devil in the Back”
One of the best sequels ever made gets a tagline as epic as it deserves. “Never stab the devil in the back.” Good god that’s great and tells you everything you need to know about John Wick and how these films function. He’s just not a guy you should fuck with, you will lose every time.
2. Who Am I?
“Fight Now. Ask Questions Later.”
Fuck yeah. Right to the point. This is the type of cinema I like.
“Slow Justice is No Justice”
This has remained the best tagline as well as tagline/poster combo me and Huston have ever seen for the past decade since this movie came out and we were 1 of 5 people to see it in theaters. Faster is amazing and marked an awesome return to action for The Rock. Just look at that poster. It’s just his bicep with a fucking gun and the tagline just takes it over the moon. I don’t think this tagline will ever be topped. Go watch Faster.