What is Action sci-fi? Well technically speaking it isn’t a subgenre of science fiction, but as long as a movie’s core element is sci-fi then it can cross into other genres such as drama or action.
Action sci-fi became very popular in the aftermath of the Star Wars franchise so from the 80s onwards we got spoilt, with a great selection of good sci-fi films with action and bad action movies with a sci-fi skin.
So with that in mind, I’ve tried to hunt down a collection of action films that cover a wide variation of different & original plots, that use science fiction effectively and not just for the sake of it.
Director Norman Jewison action sport, In a futuristic world, crime, poverty and war are all but extinct. Corporations have now replaced countries, and the entire world all watches an ultra violent sport known as rollerball. The story follows one the best rollerball players who is out to defy the wishes of his corporation, who want him to retire early Filled with action and an original story.
Rollerball is one of those cult classics with a great social commentary on corporations, that’s become more relevant as times goes on. It’s acting and filmmaking do feel very 1970s, But they’re done well, and the futuristic sport rollerball is pretty violent and unique. If your interested in something different with a message, rather than random violence for the sake of it, then give rollerball a go.
Director Peter Hyams crime thriller, In the future, humanity has the ability to mine for resources on the moons of Jupiter. When miners randomly start dying due to suspicious events, the installations brand new Marshal decides to investigate these odd occurrences. But for some unknown reason the outposts administrator goes out of his way to hinder the marshals efforts.
For an underrated space western, Outland is a decent crime thriller which has a pretty atmospheric set that’s combined with ok visual effects for it’s time. Sure it’s plot isn’t exactly the most original and the side characters could’ve been fleshed out a bit more.
However the acting overall is fairly solid, where Sean Connery tries his best, in these well setup claustrophobic environments. Outland might not be everyone's cup of tea but if you’re in the mood for a space thriller- you might want to check it out.
Director Paul Verhoeven crime thriller, Set in a violent dystopian Detroit where OCP, an immoral corporation, has taken control and privatized the city's police force. In order to impress his CEO an up and coming junior executive has a controversial idea on how to control crime in Detroit- all he needs is a human test subject in order to get his plans rolling.
A great action movie that has more depth than you would expect, RoboCop is a near perfect film with a fantastic combination of cool, violence and cheese. It’s political satire is first rate, with those classic tv commercials – and its black humor works so well without breaking the tone of the movie.
As you may have guessed I’m a huge fan of this film, so it would be no surprise to you that I would thoroughly recommend it, especially if you haven’t seen it yet.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension 1984
Director W.d.Richters Adventure comedy, Neurosurgeon, nuclear scientist and rock’n’ roller Buckaroo Banzai is a modern renaissance man. Who’s the only human to have successfully traveled to the 8th dimension and come back sane. The story kicks off when he and his team “the Hong Kong Cavaliers” are called upon to save the world from an alien invasion.
Parodying both 80’s and classic sci-fi films, The adventure of buckaroo banzai is a movie that was way ahead of its time. I’ll be honest, I really didn’t know what to think, after my 1st time watching this – to say it’s unique would be one way to put it- off the wall and eccentric would be a another.
One thing is for certain, it’s funny ridiculously over the top and definitely worth watching at least once for the experience.
The Running Man 1987
Director Paul Michael Glaser action thriller, In the year 2019 the world economy has collapsed resulting in the united states becoming a police state. The film follows Ben Richards; an innocent man who is framed and sentenced to participate in the running man, a live broadcast public execution game show that’s watched by millions.
Making a Stephen King novel into a film and then putting an 80’s Arnie into the mix only makes things better in my opinion. The Running man is a fun sci-fi flick with a very unsubtle theme of media manipulation. It’s often very silly and is filled with puns and one liners which is exactly what you would expect from a movie starring Arnie.
Sure it’s not exactly what I would call original, but if you’re looking for a no-brainer action film then look nowhere else.
Director David Lynch’s Action adventure, In a distant future, the entire universe depends on a spice that only exists on the desert planet of Arrakis. Duke Leto, the leader of house Atreides has been given control of this planet by the emperor of the known universe. But unknown to House Atreides, the emperor's intentions aren’t quite what they seem.
The bold attempt by David Lynch to visualise Frank Herbert’s Masterpiece, Dune is a very imaginative and creeply fun film. With its eccentric sets n characters and cheesy 80s soundtrack n dialog. I’m aware that this film has mixed feelings, in which people with either love or hate it as it can be considered difficult to follow. But it does a great job of combining quirky visuals with unusual ideas for action and philosophy.
Pacific Rim 2013
Director Guillermo del toro’s Action adventure, For a long time humanity's cities have been repeatedly attacked by enormous sea monsters called Kaiju. The only know defense against them that’s effective comes in the form of giant Mecha known as Jaeger. But the problem with these large robots, is that they can only be piloted by rare pairs of neural-linked pilots.
For a well made robot vs monster movie Pacific Rim succeeds at what it wants to achieve. An action packed film experience full of colourful visuals and ham-fisted acting- this is one of those movies that I really regret not going to see in the cinema. Sure some of it’s humor misses the mark and its pacing is a poor in places, but Pacifim Rim is still very entertaining for a no brainer Mecha vs Monster movie.
Director Michael Crichton’s Western Thriller, In the near future an amusement park for the wealthy has the ability to cater to its customers fantasies with one unique solution. Using anatomically correct robots instead of humans, to roleplay the lifestyle of a person from that era. Everything is status quo in the park, that is, until a rogue robot gunslinger starts stalking its guests.
Probably one of the most inventive films for its time, Westworld is pretty much the precursor to Crichton's Jurassic Park. OK it does have its flaws, however Yul Brynner performance as the very unsettling robot is first rate and the films premise is clearly inspiration for classic films like the Terminator.
The dialog might be cheesy, but Westworld is worth checking out, it holds up for its age and is still pretty fun.