The Best Action Scenes, Ranked


The Indiana Jones franchise is one of the most beloved franchises in movie history. The story of its creation is quite something. Director Steven Spielberg wanted to direct a James Bond movie, but was told by George Lucas, “I have something better than Bond.” As a result, one of the best action heroes of all time, Indiana Jones, was born. Our intrepid archaeologist gets quite a few stamps on his passport as he travels across the globe, trying to keep rare artifacts out of the hands of some really nasty people.



Of course, adventure is only half of a fantastic action/adventure series, and the action in the Indiana Jones films remains some of the best action scenes ever filmed. While Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny seemed to mark the end of the franchise after 42 years, the series will live on in comics, books, and video games, including the upcoming video game Indiana Jones and the Great Circle. That game will put players into the adventure, allowing them to experience their own Indiana Jones action scenes. Let’s take a look at which action scenes from the franchise rise a cut above the rest.

Update January 24, 2024: With all the excitement around the trailer for the game, Indiana Jones and the Great Circle, and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny‘s recent Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score at the Academy Awards, this article has been updated with even more great action scenes from the Indiana Jones franchise.


10 Tuk Tuk Car Chase Scene (Dial of Destiny)

Disney

If executed effectively, car chases can add a riveting, often captivating dimension to an action movie. In Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny‘s case, the film also incorporates comedic elements that only add to the overall spectacle, with Indiana, Helena Shaw, and Teddy making dramatic haste in a tuk-tuk, fleeing the oncoming Nazi entourage in boiling-hot pursuit through the crowded, narrow market streets of Tangier.

What Makes this Scene so Compelling?

From dodging bullets and knife-wielding henchmen to Indy saving Helena from the back of Jurgen Voller’s car, this action-packed sequence has it all. It is full to the brim with quirks that tie in perfectly with the film’s themes, as well as the light-hearted nature of the relationship between Indiana Jones and Helena. It shows that even in his old age, Indy still has it. Like he said in Raiders of the Lost Ark, “it’s not the years, it’s the mileage.”

Related:Every Indiana Jones Movie, Ranked

9 You’ve Got to Get Out of the Library! (The Crystal Skull)

The crystal Skull
Paramount Pictures

While Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull certainly didn’t translate well critically, the scene in which Indy, riding on the back of Mutt Williams’ (Shia LaBeouf) motorcycle, speeds around a university’s pristine grounds trying to avoid the chasing Soviets before entering the school’s library, where Mutt and Indy life underneath a series of desks while remaining on the motorcycle is great. While by no means the most threatening of scenes in the Indiana Jones franchise, this is certainly one of the most memorable, both in the nature of this oxymoronic chase and also the way in which Indy delivers the line “If you want to be a good archaeologist, you’ve gotta get out of the library!”

The scene also changes up the action set pieces of the franchise. While Indiana Jones was all about globe-trotting adventures, this brought the action back home. Not just home but the university setting, which, for the franchise, distinguished Indy’s two lives as an academic and an adventurer. Here is when his two worlds collide and he must fight his way out of it. The scene demonstrates a much more light-hearted action scene for the franchise.

8 Venice Boat Chase (The Last Crusade)

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Paramounbt Pictures

The City of Water is perhaps one of the most cinematic cities in the world, with its countless bridges, beautiful canals, and stunning Gothic architecture, and it lends itself ideally to films like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In this action sequence, Indy and his associate, Elsa Schneider, attempt to evade the Order of the Cruciform Sword as they weave in and out of the tight canals and waterways. This boat chase action scene was actually a leftover idea from Raiders of the Lost Ark and was finally used as the centerpiece action scene for this third installment.

What Makes this Scene so Memorable?

This is an enthralling affair and one that employs an underused means of transport in film, especially when it comes to the art of the chase. In typical Indiana Jones fashion, the seasoned pro is forced to resort to using his fists to defend himself and Elsa from the machine gun-firing of the aggressors. While Venice has been in many other action films, none of them can top this scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

7 The Mine Cart Chase (Temple of Doom)

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom- Mine Cart Chase (1)-1
Paramount Pictures

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is certainly the darkest entry in the franchise, but that doesn’t mean it still does not feature some incredible action scenes. The standout is the mine-cart chase where Indy, Short Round, and Willie Scott hop on a mine cart, which will hopefully lead them to an exit from the titular temple. However, the vile Thuggee cult sends some of their own in a mine cart to chase after the film’s chosen heroes.

Why is this Scene Such an Enthralling Watch?

The sequence is quite literally a rollercoaster ride, with gripping POV shots of Indy and co. and the unrelenting antagonists chasing them to create this all-absorbing scene further. Even Willie, the most maligned female partner in the franchise, gets to punch out at a cult member, sending his body onto the tracks, which causes the cart chasing them to hit and fly off to its doom. So, how does this sequence end? A giant onslaught of rushing water headed straight for our heroes. It’s a typical Tuesday for Indiana Jones.

6 The Bar Fight (Raiders of the Lost Ark)

Indiana Jones looks shocked when being shot at while a building burns behind him in raiders of the lost ark
Paramount Pictures

Raiders of the Lost Ark is the film that started it all, and it set a high bar for the series, so of course, a lot of the entries from this series will be from that film. The first that comes to mind is the bar fight where the Nazis try to take the headpiece to the staff of Ra from Marion Ravenwood by force, only for Indiana Jones to save her, but in the process, the bar is set on fire, and Indy and Marion are forced to have a shootout with the Nazi’s while the bar burns down.

Why is Indy vs the Nazi Mechanic Such a Great Action Scene?

The action scene plays out like a great stunt show (and has been the basis for many at various Disney theme parks), with gunshots, fire, and punching all taking place. The scene establishes that even with all hell-breaking losses, Indy and Marion make a great team and that Marion is just as capable as Indiana Jones, even saving him in the end. Visually stunning and a technical marvel, this is just one of many great action scenes from an iconic film.

5 Train Fight Scene (Dial of Destiny)

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny Train scene
Disney

As seen with Bond in Skyfall, train chases and combat sequences atop moving trains through picturesque landscapes are a particular favorite among action fanatics, and in the most recent installment of the Indy franchise, James Mangold taps into this thrill when Indy is relentlessly pursued by bloodthirsty Nazi officers, hellbent on capturing the daring archaeologist-turned-explorer.

What Makes this Film Such a Spectacular Watch?

The fight scene that ensues on top of this 1940s locomotive is arguably the action highlight of the entire movie, as Indiana Jones tussles with the vicious Colonel Weber, relying on his trusty, albeit nervy companion, Basil Shaw. This scene masters the art of cinematic suspense, and with the level of jeopardy growing by the second, it has the audience utterly engrossed from start to finish and perfectly captures the spirit of the original trilogy that fans love.

4 The Fighter Plane Duel (The Last Crusade)

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade- fighter plane scene (1)
Paramount Pictures

The third film in the franchise sees Indy’s dad, played to perfection by Sean Connery, joining in on the fun. The Jones’s hop on a blimp in Berlin to escape Germany, but escape via biplane, where they are pursued by two much more advanced fighter planes. Then Jones’ biplane crashes (Indy can fly a plane, but not land one), causing father and son to steal a car and continue the action. When one plane gets taken out when it tries to pursue the Jones’ through a tunnel, the second one gets taken out in a much more unexpected way by the elder Jones, who weaponizes a flock of seagulls (not the ’80s band) to take it down.

What Makes this Scene from The Last Crusade Great?

The transition from air to land is done perfectly, and there’s even some good humor when the wingless plane passes our two heroes in the tunnel. However, it’s also a pretty heartwarming sequence, as after the elder Jones and his seagull allies take down the last plane, the iconic theme music swells as Indy looks at his dad with pride. Who knew that taking out Nazis would be the perfect father-son bonding activity?

Related: These Are the Best Harrison Ford Movies, Ranked

3 The Tank Chase (The Last Crusade)

Indiana Jones And the Last Crusade- Tank Scene
Paramount Pictures

The short-lived real-life Republic of Hatay grants the Nazis a tank escort to the location of the Holy Grail. With Indy’s colleague, Marcus Brody, and Henry Jones Sr. being held hostage in the tank, it’s up to Indy, Sallah, and a mysterious brotherhood sworn to protect the Grail to thwart the Nazis. Everything about this sequence is fantastic. The tank itself proves to be a behemoth, able to keep going despite everything that Indy and his allies can throw at it, not to mention the fights that take place on top of the tank.

Why The Tanks Chase Scene is so Gripping

Nazi Colonel Vogel gets some good licks in on Indy, and even Brody and Jones Sr manage to take out a few of the baddies in the tank. There is some humor, such as when Indy takes out three Nazis with one shot from a pistol, but most of the action is really gripping, really fun. The ending is just sublime. The tank goes over a cliff… with Vogel and Indy still duking it out on top of it. How’s our favorite archaeologist going to survive this one?

2 The Epic Truck Chase (Raiders of the Lost Ark)

Raiders of the Lost Ark Truck Chase
Lucasfilm

The big action climax of Raiders of the Lost Ark actually happens towards the end of Act II, as Indiana Jones discovers the Nazis have loaded the Arc of the Covenant onto a truck. Indy rushes to catch up with the truck, but not in a car but on a white horse. He catches up to the truck, jumps on board, and fights his way to gain control of the car. He is punched, shot, and even thrown from the window and dragged on by the truck and can only hold on with his whip. Yet Indiana Jones is able to take the truck and arc from the Nazis, if only temporarily.

What Makes The Scene Great

Everything about this scene captures what makes the Indiana Jones franchise so iconic. It feels pulled directly from an old 1940s serial adventure, and even the image of Indiana Jones riding a white horse can’t help but evoke the image of The Lone Ranger riding Silver into battle. Indy is certainly cool doing this, but unlike other action heroes that would follow, Indy is never really in control. He is constantly making it up as he goes along and gets put through the ring. He is shot, beaten in the arm he got shot at and survives multiple moments that should have killed him. Yet Indiana Jones keeps on going, and that has made him a cinematic icon.

1 The Opening Scene (Raiders of the Lost Ark)

A scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark
Paramount Pictures

Was there any doubt this was going to claim the top spot? It’s one of the most iconic opening scenes of all time. That image of Indy outrunning a giant boulder is pretty much the first thing anyone thinks of when they think of the character and the franchise as a whole. The mystery builds perfectly. What’s in the temple? What are they looking for? The booby traps are cleverly revealed, showing Indy’s cleverness and ingenuity.

Why This Scene Raiders of the Lost Ark the Best Action Sequence from the Franchise

From Indy and native guide Satipo (a very young Alfred Molina) avoiding all the booby traps, that iconic switching of the idol for a bag of sand and the aforementioned boulder, it’s one of the best opening scenes in movie history, instantly absorbing the audience. It not only establishes Indiana Jones as a character, mysterious and cool but also constantly in over his head and just barely surviving, perfectly updating the classic adventure serials of the 1930s and 1940s for a then-modern audience. It’s a strong contender for the best first ten minutes of any movie ever and the most iconic sequence in the entire Indiana Jones series.

Stream all five Indiana Jones movies on Disney+.



.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy silidtgy