15 Movie Moments That Perfectly Parody Action Movie Cliches

Voting Rules

Vote up the scenes that accurately skewer action movie tropes.

Part of what we love about action movies are the cliches: car chases, explosions, monologuing villains who get their comeuppance, heroes stuck in impossible situations that we know they’ll somehow escape, and so on. Action movies have developed a film language that is so familiar to us, sometimes, movies simply have no choice but to lean into it. Here are a few times where action movies and action-comedies called themselves out in fun, satisfying ways.

  • 1
    1,640 VOTES

    In ‘The Other Guys,’ Two Hotshot Cops Dramatically Jump Off A Building - And Just Hit The Ground And Die

    The Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg action-comedy The Nice Guys opens with an unforgettably violent but hilarious scene that takes a swipe at action-movie absurdity. The Rock and Samuel L. Jackson play a pair of “cool” detectives that the rest of the staff envy because they're completely fearless and always capture their targets in action-packed, pun-filled shootouts. When the two heroes are in pursuit of some goons on the top of a building, they fearlessly dive off the building after them while the music kicks up to a crescendo… and immediately just plunge to the pavement.

    1,640 votes
  • 2
    1,490 VOTES

    In ‘Austin Powers,’ Dr. Evil Puts Austin In A Slow, Escapable Trap Instead Of Just Finishing Him Off

    The Austin Powers films take every Bond movie to task, particularly in the scene where Dr. Evil finally captures Austin Powers, and instead of finishing him off instantly, he… eats dinner with him so they can have a face-to-face conversation. He then puts Austin in an elaborate trap that he doesn't even stick around to watch to the end, which he (obviously) easily escapes. Seth Green's “Scott” character basically speaks on behalf of anyone who's ever watched a Bond movie.

    1,490 votes
  • 3
    1,533 VOTES

    In ‘The Nice Guys,’ Holland Punches Through Glass - Which Immediately Slices His Wrist And Sends Him To The Hospital

    The Nice Guys, from veteran screenwriter (and Iron Man 3 director) Shane Black, is a colorful, '70s-set detective film that functions equally well as a detective film itself and as a loving satire of the genre. In one queasy but hilarious scene, Ryan Gosling's wannabe private-eye character is doing some slick, hard-boiled detective style voiceover about how a true detective gets RESULTS - then tries to break into a door by punching through the glass, slices his wrist up horribly, and ends up in an ambulance with massive blood loss. It's a perfectly unexpected inversion on the cool main character detective who's always 10 steps ahead of everyone. 

    1,533 votes
  • 4
    1,087 VOTES

    In ‘Hot Shots! Part Deux,’ The Hero Just Throws A Pile Of Bullets At A Bunch Of Henchmen And They All Go Down

    Hot Shots: Part Deux is an absurd slapstick comedy that references all kinds of war movies from the Rambo franchise to Apocalypse Now. In one memorably ridiculous sequence that goes on seemingly forever, Topper just keeps effortlessly gunning down faceless goons over and over again. For this action movie hero, this task is so boring, repetitive, and easy, at one point, he literally just grabs a handful of bullets and whips it at a bunch of goons, who all go down instantly.

    1,087 votes
  • 5
    1,043 VOTES

    In ‘Spaceballs,’ The Villains Accidentally Capture The Stars’ Stunt Doubles

    Spaceballs is a classic parody of galactic adventure films like Star Wars and Alien, but one particularly absurd fourth-wall-breaking scene aims even broader with its satire. During one chase sequence, the villains close in on our main characters while they're sprinting and diving through small openings in doors (in camera shots where we conspicuously can't see their faces), but the heroes get caught anyway. But the villain realizes, to his horror, that the actual actors weren't in that scene - he's captured their stunt doubles.  

    1,043 votes
  • 6
    1,203 VOTES

    In ‘Naked Gun 2 1/2,’ Everyone Frank Interrogates Dies RIGHT Before They Can Give Him The Info He Needs

    The Naked Gun films are simply perfect parodies of overly serious cop films that skewer all sorts of cliches from the genre. In the second installment, while Frank Drebin is hot on the heels of his nemesis, Quentin Hapsburg, he interrogates one of Hapsburg's dying henchmen for his bosses' whereabouts. When the guy dies right before he can give up the final piece of crucial information, Drebin simply turns to the next almost-dead guy who's lying right nearby.

    1,203 votes