Action Movies: The Cinema of Striking Back is a study of action cinema, exploring the ethics and aesthetics of the genre with reference to its relatively short history. It moves from seminal classics like Bullitt (1968) and Dirty Harry (1971) through epoch-defining films like Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) and Die Hard (1988) to revisions, reboots, and renewals in films like Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003), Taken (2008), and The Expendables (2010). The action genre is a fusion of form and content: a cinema of action about action. It is a cinema of the will, configured as a decisive reaction to untenable circumstances. Action heroes take up arms against the sea of troubles that beset them, safe in the kwledge that if they don't do it, body will. Though this makes the action movie profoundly disturbing as an embodiment of moral ideology, its enduring appeal proves the appetite for assurance remains undiminished, even in the wake of 9/11.
Dr. Harvey O'Brien is a lecturer in Film Studies at University College Dublin. He has published on topics including Irish Studies, history and the media, horror, science fiction, and documentary film. He is the author of The Real Ireland: The Evolution of Ireland in Documentary Film (2004) and co-editor of Keeping it Real: Irish Film and Television (2004).