20 Tired Action Movie Tropes (That Still Have A Lot of Life In Them)

Yes, it’s been done to death – because it’s AWESOME.
20 Tired Action Movie Tropes (That Still Have A Lot of Life In Them)

Action movies are kind of an obsession here at Cracked, yet established genres also entail their own established tropes, and those can become rather annoying. In the case of action movies, we are all tired of big blue sky beams, villains divulging their plans before succeeding, or henchmen with bad aim. Yet for a while now, action movies have been distancing themselves from these sort of clichés, usually unsuccessfully, or even failing in breaking through their ossified plot structures, as it happens with Marvel movies and their known third-act problems.

Here we try something different. Instead of mocking action movie tropes, we focus on the ones that can indeed be sorta tired, yet still have some life in them. We’re talking about the sort of tropes that can still cause goosebumps when properly used, the ones that still feature prominently in good action movies — and for good reason. These are tropes that just need some tweaking, some creativity, some loving team behind them, and can still drive good action movies, as we will see with concrete examples. What will these tropes and examples be? Will we include Zack Snyder movies? Again, we’re talking about good tropes, so the answer is obviously no.

Final Battle

Tired action tropes that still work The final battle This is the the bane diluting all the narrative weight of most Marvel movies, but a bunch of recent films have shown why it is such a staple of the genre: Mission: Impossible - Fallout, Mad Max: Fury Road, and well, Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. CRACKED.COM


Tired action tropes that still work The kick-ass one-liner One-liners are so basic to action movies that they aren't going anywhere. For a recent example of a badass line uttered at a badass moment and within the natural flow of the plot and character development, see Crawl's Kaya Scodelario growling, Арех predator, all day! CRACKED.COM


Tired action tropes that still work Rallying cry A rallying cry can be more compelling than its longer cousin, the pre-final battle speech. Speeches are dated and too obvious in their attempt to pull at heartstrings. Remember Bill Pullman in Independence Day? Yeah. But rallying cries? We're happy Cap didn't ramble on, and just told his fellow Avengers to assemble. CRACKED.COM


Tired action tropes that still work Unlikely action hero Ever since Die Hard, action movies have been trying to transform normal dudes into unwitting heroes. One of the best recent examples is Tom Cruise's William Cage, in Edge of Tomorrow. Just give us that damn sequel! CRACKED.COM


Tired action tropes that still work رؤون Gun fu From classic John Woo movies to The Matrix and Equilibrium, there's nothing like a good action scene with creative use of guns. Recent good examples have appeared in Kick-Ass or Kingsman: The Secret Service- but who are we kidding, let's just watch the home invasion scene from the first John Wick again. CRACKED.COM

Improvised Weapon

Tired action tropes that still work Anything can be a weapon. Making a weapon out of everyday objects is a trope that could not possibly die. On a purely visual, fun-delivering basis, we're big fans of the way May Calamawy used that flare in Moon Knight, in a shot worthy of a superhero. CRACKED.COM


Tired action tropes that still work BIFF Villain entrance A good action movie deserves a good villain - and a good villain deserves a good, terrifying entrance. Everything Everywhere All at Once had a great villain entrance for Jobu Tupaki, yet we're still in awe of Inmortan Joe's very first scene in Mad Max: Fury Road. CRACKED.COM


Tired action tropes that still work Heel and face turns Heroes betraying their team or baddies siding with the good guys can definitely contribute to a good action flick. Good examples are Loki's change of heart in Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War, alternate Nebula in Endgame... Oh, and remember that convict from The Dark Knight that refused to blow up the other boat? CRACKED.COM


Tired action tropes that still work Defeating the strongest guy We were all surprised when the we have a Hulk callback in Infinity War was followed by Thanos shrugging it off - and easily defeating the Hulk. More action movies should build up their strongest characters only to see them lose to the actual threat. CRACKED.COM

Quiet Moment

Tired action tropes that still work Calm among the chaos Everything Everywhere All at Once took the interruption of the chaos with a moment of mindful soul-searching to the next level (who knew rocks could emote?), but see also Cillian Murphy's touching scene with his dying father in Inception, or even Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man saving MJ in No Way Home. Give us a sec, we just got something in our eye. CRACKED.COM


Tired action tropes that still work The quiet nerdy guy kicks ass. Everything Everywhere All at Once, to name one example, takes its time with Waymond Wang's fanny pack and nerdy mannerisms before his kick-ass fight scene. When properly done, this is always a pleasure to watch. CRACKED.COM


Tired action tropes that still work The mentor dies Spider-Man: No Way Home proved this can still be pulled off. And the movie knew how to do it: it slowed down, it took its time, it really let the weight of Peter Parker's loss sink in. No spoilers here, but with a great action movie trope comes great genre responsibility. CRACKED.COM


Tired action tropes that still work Fight in the hallway As a matter of fact, we're kinda living in a golden age of hallway fights. Classic ones appeared in Oldboy, Inception, The Raid, Snowpiercer, and the Daredevil TV show, but The Batman also did it very well. CRACKED.COM


Tired action tropes that still work Dance club fight scene Blade set the standard for the modern dance club fight scene, yet more recent examples include The Dark Knight, John Wick and The Batman. Fight scenes are awesome, but dancing? That just sounds exhausting. CRACKED.COM


Tired action tropes that still work - Rule of cool Without the rule of cool to make violence fun and visually compelling, action movies simply stop existing and become realistic, depressing crime dramas. For two recent examples of the rule being put to good use, see Nobody and Everything Everywhere All at Once. CRACKED.COM


Tired action tropes that still work Cauterizing your own wound with gunpowder No way the baddies will win over someone cauterizing their wound with friggin' gunpowder. Rambo III and John Woo's The Killer famously had scenes with this trope, but it was masterfully brought back to life in 2017's subversive horror-action movie Revenge. CRACKED.COM


Tired action tropes that still work плек 180 EMERGENCY .911 Car Fu We can't get tired of chase sequences in which cars themselves are used as choreographed weapons. Wanted, Baby Driver, and of course the Fast & Furious franchise were built on car fu, but we have a soft spot for the way in which Bruce Willis exits his car in Red. CRACKED.COM


Tired action tropes that still work 00:51:60 ARMED DEVICE Gotta defuse the bomb! This is the perfect example of an overused trope that can be given new life. In Mission: Impossible - Fallout, for example, the idea of two nuclear bombs having to be defused at the exact same time actually worked. CRACKED.COM

Fight Banter

Tired action tropes that still work Banter, banter, banter The less known-cousin to the Mexican standoff, this focuses a bit more on the banter previous to the actual shoot-out. Action classics like Face-Off and The Matrix pulled it really well, yet the underrated Dredd movie from 2012 also showcased gunpoint banter during one of its intense action scenes. CRACKED.COM

Full Circle

Tired action tropes that still work Back where it all began Legacy sequels tend to bring it all back to the original, most iconic sites, like when Rey Star Wars says, I'm Rey Star Wars at the end of Star Wars: The Rise of Rey Star Wars. Yet the new Scream (not exactly an action movie, but still) did it really well, by setting its third act in Stu's house from the 1996 original. CRACKED.COM
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