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This year was an interesting year for movies. While there are a few places where 2017 faltered from a cinematic perspective, one place where it was remarkably solid was in action set pieces. From the straight action of John Wick and Atomic Blonde to Edgar Wright's beautifully choreographed Baby Driver, there were some great moments for action fans this year.
Several of this year's comic book movies had some standout moments, and even some films that weren't strictly good overall had moments worth seeing if you're an action fan. Without further ado, here are the 10 best action scenes of 2017.
Atomic Blonde - Stairway Fight
We're calling it the Stairway Fight here, but it's so much more than that. Director David Leitch, who had previously helmed the excellent John Wick, takes action filmmaking to the next level with a sequence in Atomic Blonde that seems to go on forever. While it wasn't actually filmed in a single take, the cuts are hidden to present a real-time escape from a building that sees Charlize Theron take on a small army. It's a physical and visceral battle, and we see Theron get beaten up herself, to a degree you rarely see from women on the big screen. Watching Atomic Blonde is entirely worth it for this sequence alone.
Logan - Forest Battle
For over a decade we'd been waiting. Waiting to see Hugh Jackman's Wolverine cut loose and go full berserker in a way that the PG-13 X-Men movies simply wouldn't allow. In Logan, we finally got our wish, and it was everything we hoped. It was vicious and violent and bloody. Wolverine tears through bodies like paper. It was an action scene that was worth waiting for. What made it even better was that he wasn't alone. Fighting alongside him was Laura (X-23) who didn't hold back in the slightest simply because she was a child. Two brutal Wolverine fights for the price of one.It was the best way to say goodbye to such a legacy.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi - Praetorian Guard Battle
While opinions about Star Wars: The Last Jedi seem to be all over the map, if there's one thing it would seem we can all agree on, it's that the film's big lightsaber battle, which saw Rey and Klyo Ren take on Snoke's Praetorian Guard, was pretty damn awesome. It's stylish and beautifully choreographed in a way that few of Star Wars' lightsaber battles actually are. We see different fighting styles from each of the guard,thanks to their unique weapons, leading to different strategies from Rey and Ren. It's all finished off with one of the most simple, yet most brutal, moves with a lightsaber we've ever seen, as the final enemy has a whole burned through his skull.
Wonder Woman - No Man's Land
Hopes were very high for Wonder Woman as the first female-led superhero movie of the generation. It was the beautiful scene that saw Diana crossing the no man's land between the trenches of WWI that convinced many that Wonder Woman was exactly the movie they'd been waiting for. From the trenches, to liberating a French town, we see Wonder Woman take on a literal army while showing no fear. It's an epic scene that is something unique among comic book films. Wonder Woman shows true bravery and power, just the way we hoped she would.
John Wick Chapter 2 - Subway Fight
The original John Wick set a high bar when it came to action sequences, and while we're not sure the sequel quite surpassed anything from the original, John Wick 2 created some great moments in its own right. The best starts with a montage of every assassin in New York trying to track down John Wick, followed by the return of Cassius, played by Common, who's back to try and cash in on the bounty on Wick's head. The two taking pot shots at each other on a crowded subway platform is a thing of beauty and the final fight on the train is great close quarters combat. If Cassius survived, we can't wait to see what he does in John Wick: Chapter 3.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales - Execution Escape
Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Men Tell No Tales wasn't the return to form of the franchise that we'd hoped it would be, but that doesn't mean the film was without value. The movie had a lot of promise after the way it opened, with a solid chase sequence. And the scene in which Jack Sparrow's crew helps him escape from execution is everything we love about the franchise, great sword fighting, split-second rescues, and a little bit of humor thrown in for good measure. Even Jack's guillotine escape is as exciting as it is funny. It's too bad the rest of the movie didn't hold up.
Baby Driver - Hocus Pocus Chase
Baby Driver is a movie that is all about action taking place behind the wheel of a car, and yet the film's best action sequence takes place almost entirely on foot. It's an exhilarating scene that sees Baby lead the cops on a chase all over town. Of course, part of what makes the chase so great is the perfect choice of music. "Hocus Pocus" by Focus is perfectly chosen and the way the soundtrack punctuates the action is part of what sets this scene, and this film, apart from most others.
Thor: Ragnarok - Thor vs Hulk
Thor and Hulk first went at it in the original Avengers film, but some third parties in fighter jets got involved, preventing us from seeing who would win. In the Grandmaster's arena in Thor: Ragnarok there would be nobody to stop these two this time. While Thor is a more reluctant participant in the fight, the Hulk forces the issue and we see the two strongest Avengers go at it in a fight we'll likely never see again. It's a great physical battle that has great humor along with its great action.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - Yondu's Arrow
The Guardiansof the Galaxy movies focus more on their humor than on their action, but that didn't stop this year's sequel from having a fantastic sequence of its own. Yondu, Rocket, and Groot escape from the Ravegers, and with the help of some of Star-Lord's music, the pair do it in style. Yondu's arrow flies all over the ship and takes out nearly everybody on the ship by itself, while the rest get blasted to kingdom come thanks to the hyper-violent Rocket. We had no idea these two would make such a perfect pair.
Kong: Skull Island - Kong vs. Skullcrawler
Kong: Skull Island was an epic reintroduction to the massive ape for the new Monsterverse. If there was any fear the film was going to hold off showing us great action with the giant ape, those fears were put aside early on. Yet it was the final battle with the massive skullcrawler that was the film's most epic throwdown. If this is just the beginning of what the monsterverse has to show us, we can't wait to see Kong go head-to-head with some of the genre's most famous creatures.