From the “Fast and the Furious” franchise to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one thing is clear; filmgoers love action movies!
Action movies transport us to exciting worlds filled with adrenaline-pumping sequences and jaw-dropping stunts.
While watching action movies is a guaranteed good time, writing an action script can be challenging. Writing a successful action script requires strong storytelling skills, well-developed characters, and the ability to write action-packed scenes full of tension.
Whether you're looking to write the next big blockbuster or just looking to branch out and explore action writing, studying action is one of the easiest ways to learn to write for the genre. Keep reading, as today I’m talking about five of my favorite action scripts to learn from!
“Atomic Blonde” Screenplay
Written by Kurt Johnstad
“Atomic Blonde” is a fun, stylish, and action-packed spy thriller that showcases the power of a female lead in an action film!
The script follows Lorraine, played by Charlize Theron, an MI6 agent, as she navigates the dangerous world of espionage during the Cold War. This film has everything; murder, double agents, and even a killer 1980s soundtrack!
The script does excellent work weaving an intricate, unpredictable plot that engages the audience. The writing also does a great job of intertwining action with character development.
Written by Christopher Nolan
“Tenet” is a mind-bending action thriller that defies the conventions of time and space and, too often, doesn’t get the praise it deserves!
The film's protagonist, known only as the Protagonist, faces mind-boggling challenges in his pursuit of truth and justice throughout the film. Reading this script will allow writers to observe how Nolan takes fantastical time-traveling ideas and grounds them with meaningful emotion.
The script showcases a wonderful blend of high-concept action and intellectual intrigue, leaving the audience questioning the nature of time and reality. “Tenet” is the type of script that shows that action films can be complex, thoughtful, and even philosophical.
“John Wick” Screenplay
Written by Derek Kolstad
“John Wick” takes a simple premise and perfectly executes it with incredibly stylized and well-choreographed fight scenes.
The script follows a retired hitman seeking vengeance for the loss of his beloved dog. The straightforward motivation of the first film is quick to engage audiences in a way that makes them empathetic to the titular character's emotional journey.
The world-building work that the first film establishes and the sequel films expand upon serve as a great example of how to create a unique and well-defined universe for your action film.
“Terminator 2: Judgment Day” Screenplay
Written by James Cameron and William Wisher Jr.
“Terminator 2” is a groundbreaking action film that revolutionized visual effects and storytelling in the genre! The movie picks up some years after the first film and sees a cyborg need to protect a 10-year-old boy who will go on to lead the resistance against malevolent artificial intelligence.
This sequel film has some fantastic character arcs. The movie takes the already-established characters and puts them through evolutions audiences could not have predicted! When this film came out, I’m sure nobody expected the cold, ruthless figure from the first film to become a beloved protector!
“Terminator 2” also features an excellent villain in the form of T-1000, a shape-shifting Terminator. T-1000 proves to be a terrifying and relentless antagonist, seeming virtually unstoppable. This film’s stakes are well written, as the audience feels like humanity's fate hangs in the balance.
“Charlie's Angels” Screenplay
Written by Ryan Rowe, Ed Solomon, and John August
While many iterations based on the 1970s hit show have since come out, it’s the 2000 “Charlie's Angels” action-comedy film that I look back on most fondly.
This script highlights the strength, charisma, and comedy of the three women leads as we see them investigate a case that could bring an end to their detective agency. “Charlie’s Angels” demonstrates the importance of creating a diverse and dynamic team of protagonists, who each contribute unique skills to the action-packed narrative.
This script mixes humor and action to tell a lighthearted but ultimately satisfying story.
Action scripts require a potent blend of high-octane sequences, well-developed characters, and a captivating storyline. By studying action scripts like the ones mentioned in this blog, aspiring writers can gain many helpful insights.
Each script offers a unique perspective on creating pulse-pounding entertainment, from developing focused motivations for the protagonists to fusing character arcs with exciting action.
Hopefully, these action-packed masterpieces will inspire your own writing. Happy writing!