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The 10 Best Action Characters of the 2010s

January 20, 2018

The action films of the 2010s have given the world some fantastic new characters, headkicks and new characters being decapitated via a head kick. Between comic book films, the Fast series and Mission Impossible’s resurgence we’ve been blessed with quality action films that go out their way to shock and awe. We’ve been lucky enough to witness the world’s longest runway (Hello Furious 6) and watch Brad Pitt get chased by insanely fast zombies (World War Z).  I think The Raid: Redemption and 13 Assassins are damn near perfect, and I felt like I got a concussion by just watching Brawl in Cell Block 99. Also, between Furiosa (Mad Max: Fury Road),and Mallory Kane (Haywire) we’ve been blessed with some scene stealing female action heroes.

The following post covers the 10 best action characters of the 00s. They are an odd lot who all have one thing in common. They are awesome!

Eva Green 300

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I love Samuel L. Jackson in Kingsman: The Secret Service and Daniel Bruhl in Captain America: Civil War but they didn’t really get their fingers dirty in action sequences. Sure, they tortured, shot and harassed many but I wanted this list to feature characters who got in the action and wiped some folks out.

I really wanted to add Fast Five’s Gisele (Gal Gadot) and Han (Sung Kang) but their characters originated before 2011. There are many fantastic characters (John Wick, Hobbs, Lucy) who didn’t make the list, but I’m sure they won’t care because they are too busy flexing.

The Rock

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1. Rita Vrataski – Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Emily Blunt’s Rita Vrataski was an effortless badass who wasn’t simply a Tom Cruise love interest. She imbued a soul and personality into a character that was stuck in what seems like a very uncomfortable costume. What I love about the performance is that you 100% bought every moment of alien smooshing and Tom Cruise killing. Blunt believably added humor, physicality and stoicism to a character that could have easily been one-note in a lesser actors hands.

Edge of tomorrow

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2. Artemisia – 300: Rise of an Empire (2014)

Eva Green owned every second of 300: Rise of an Empire. She straight up went for it and seemed to be having a blast playing Artemesia. I love when actors/actresses own their roles and dive into absurdity with zero self consciousness.  Green gave us a fantastic villain who is way more layered than she had any right to be.

Eva Green

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3. Bradley Thomas – Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)

Vince Vaughn is an absolute badass in Brawl in Cell Block 99 and I bought every second of his rampage. What I love most about Bradley is how he realizes the situation he is in (it’s bad) and knows what is at stake (his family). I don’t think I’ve ever watched a film and actively thought “I would not want to be hit by that guy.” There are moments that feature Bradley absolutely destroying folks and it feels very human and mythical. Bradley bleeds and gets hurts, but nobody can stop him. You need to watch Brawl in Cell Block 99.

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4. Furiosa – Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Imperator Furiosa is a marvel of a creation. In the six months that Charlize Theron spent filming in the African desert she and George Miller created a character for the ages. She is a one-armed badass who has no problem going head to head with a guy called Immortan Joe. She drives a massive war rig, commands respect from her subordinates, battles Mad Max and can shoot a gun like a pro. Charlize Theron is one of my favorite actresses and I loved her in Young Adult, Arrested Development and Mad Max. In movies like Prometheus and Snow White and the Huntsman she was stuck in the icy villain role. In Max, Furiosa has a warmth to her that goes along with her effortless badass.

What I love most about Theron’s performance was nothing was forced. Sometimes when tasked with playing a post-apocalyptic war rig driver the actor would go over the top with bluster, bitchiness and a weird deep voice. Theron’s Furiosa wears her heart on her sleeve and doesn’t quite know what she is getting into. She is obviously respected by her peers and Immortan Joe respects her enough to send his entire War Boy party after her. Furiosa at times seem close to tears but has no problem skeet shooting the foes that come at her.

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5. Mallory Kane – Haywire (2011)

Haywire is a badass James Bond-esque action film that only Steven Soderbergh could make. Haywire is full of fantastic action that puts Gina Carano’s skills to full use. Her MMA background is used to bone crunching effect in her fight with Channing Tatum. He walks in, complains about being hungover, throws coffee in her face and smashes a coffee cup on her head. From there we get a badass brawl that involves restaurant patrons, coffee pots and a slick armbar. It is fast, violent and doesn’t resort to choppy editing. I love how Soderbergh lets the camera linger as the actors beat the crap out of each other. Soderbergh couldn’t have done this without someone of Carano’s caliber and I appreciated every second of her various battles.

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6. Shinzaemon– 13 Assassins (2010)

If you haven’t watched Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins you need to do it now. It is an insanely violent epic that features 13 Ronin battling an incredibly evil man. What I love about Shinzaemon (Koji Yakusho) is he is putting his life on the line to stop a tyrant. He knows what will happen if the evil lord Naritsugu (Goro Inagsaki) gains further power so he gathers some tough guys and they go to war. 13 Assassins features the best action scene of the 2010s, and you will find yourself rooting for the world weary Shinzaemon as he makes many people bleed.

13 assassins bad guy

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7. Gerry – World War Z (2013)

What I love about World War Z is that it doesn’t let you catch your breath for the first two-thirds of the film, then it makes you hold your breath during the conclusion.  Jerry (Brad Pitt) is an ultimate survivor who always keeps moving and throws himself headlong into danger. He knows he can’t stop and while carnage is erupting all over the place he stays cool and survives. Tell me who else could survive an airplane crash, zombie swarms, riots, more zombie swarms and a gross zombie who chomps its teeth like a creeper. Jerry is a badass because he knows how to survive.

World War chomping zombie

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8. Rama – The Raid: Redemption (2011)

Rama is an action god and I love the physicality that Iko Uwais added to the role. He is a nonstop ball of violence who would put the Energizer bunny to shame. What I love about The Raid is that it never stops. It is urgent, bloody, intense and thrilling. Rama is a good dude surrounded by bad dudes, and he beats them all up. The Raid is action perfected.

The Raid fight scenes

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9. Cassian  – John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

You may be scratching you head as to why a guy who was defeated by John Wick would be in the top 10. The reason Cassian made the list is because he is probably the only person who can give the “boogeyman” such a great fight. I loved that Cassian never thought twice about hunting Wick and their battles across the city of Rome were epic. There is something to said for a guy who knows who he is fighting and never thinks to back down. Cassian took it to Wick and proved himself to be an almost equal to the baddest man on the planet. Basically, I love that Cassian trusted his abilities enough to engage in an all out fistfight with an almost supernatural foe.

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10. Alejandro – Sicario (2015)

Benecio Del Toro is the most believable badass since Maximus in Gladiator (2000). I bought everything he did and I was fully on board with his death dealing. He might be the scariest character on the list because he is driven by revenge and has ice water running in his veins. You need to watch Sicario because between Emily Blunt’s unselfishness and Roger Deakins cinematography, it is an almost perfect film.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. August 14, 2016 7:18 am

    Good to see Furiosa on here, she’s pretty bad ass.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      August 14, 2016 9:11 am

      The real star of the film–for anyone who hadn’t yet seen Fury Road. Not that I didn’t love Hardy.

      • August 14, 2016 9:11 am

        Yes she was the centre of the story and the beating heart.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      August 14, 2016 9:24 am

      In a totally awesome way. Poor Max…just gets caught up in the middle of it all. lol

  2. January 24, 2018 11:03 am

    Great selection. I have to say I have a soft spot of Eva Green in 300! She’s brilliant in that role.

    • January 24, 2018 11:59 am

      Thanks! Eva crushes it in 300. I love how she just owned the role and bossed everything. It was fun watching her have fun.

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