The 10 Best Action Scenes of the 21st Century

'Atomic Blonde' features two killer action set pieces that could give these recent favorites a run for their money.

Most movies are lucky to get in one great action set piece (and they usually put it in the wrong damn place), so it’s sort of a miracle that David Leitch’s Atomic Blonde – out Friday, and a must-see – features two. Early on, our hero Lorraine (Charlize Theron, kicking ass left and right) takes on an army of thugs in an apartment, making use of an assortment of handy household items/improvised weapons. And just when you think that one is an all-timer, they go and top it with a later sequence that follows Lorraine (and the man she’s protecting) through an entire apartment block, dispatching bad guys left and right, seemingly in an unbroken take – kind of like that great shot in Children of Men, but with way more guys getting thrown into walls. Both are among the great action sequences in recent memory, and there’s some pretty stiff competition for that title; let’s take a look at it.


  1. Parkour Chase – Casino Royale

The acrobatic combat style of parkour has given us plenty of ace action beats, but none may have mattered more to a movie than this killer bit in the 2006 Bond reboot – a series that had faltered badly, thanks to the increased silliness of its most recent, Pierce Bronsan-fronted installments. With new Bond Daniel Craig in place and a leaner, grittier aesthetic established, director Martin Campbell went for straight-up bruising fight scenes, from the excellent, black-and-white brawl that opened the movie to this exhausting fight in an under-construction building.