The 11 Most Overused Scenes in Action Movies, According to Science

The 11 Most Overused Scenes in Action Movies, According to Science
Image credit: Twentieth Century Fox

It's not necessarily a bad thing to have a kiss at the end of a rom-com…

… or a fight scene ten minutes into a superhero flick. But when movies all have the exact same story beats, it starts to get pretty predictable.

Here are eleven action movie moments that you've seen on repeat, according to a group of French data scientists who broke it down for us.

  1. You better RUN!

It's not just Tom Cruise – almost every action movie has a chase scene between the hero and villain. If it's the beginning of the movie, the bad guy will a) get away or b) die after revealing a vaguely mysterious plot detail. Or, if it's the end of the movie, the chase will end in a showdown.

Who Made it Fresh?

The opening sequence of Casino Royale (2006), which featured Bond vs a parkour master in an amazing pas de deux:

  1. FIGHT!

Yes, it's an action movie – we'd all be disappointed if there WASN'T a big show-down. But these fights are often so predictable we could probably close our eyes and describe exactly what's going to happen next. Is it halfway through the movie? The good guy loses but survives. End of the movie? Good guy wins, baddie dies and/or goes to jail.

Who Made it Fresh?

Die Hard (1988). John McLean arrives at the final showdown weaponless and barely able to walk straight, which genuinely has us wondering if he can pull it off:

  1. Romance

The biggest sinners in this category? Action franchises. Everyone knows that Bond will drive off into the sunset with a girl, as will Ethan Hunt and Indiana Jones. Unfortunately, the love stories are usually half baked and the love interests interchangeable. Yawn.

Who Made it Fresh?

Speed (1994). The romance between Jack and Annie feels natural and ends up being essential to the plot and to Jack's overall character development:

  1. Twirling the Mustache of Victory

In order to show us exactly how high the stakes are and how ruthlessly brilliant the villain is, it's very common to have a scene where the bad guy is at the height of his powers, manipulating a situation and twirling his (usually) metaphorical mustache.

Who Made it Fresh?

Kingsman ( 2014), with that totally unexpected church massacre:

  1. The Pep Talk

This is the point in the movie when the hero has given up and needs his mentor/love interest/friend to give a little speech and get him (it's usually a "him") back on his feet.

Who Made it Fresh?

Sam in The Two Towers (2002). Inspiring in part because he's the last person one might expect to give a rousing speech:

  1. The Good Guys Argue

Yep, at some point the good guys are going to have an argument about what the "right" thing to do is. 99% of action movies feel the need to have the main character arguing with his boss/supervisor/head of the FBI, and you would swear that screenwriters are just copy/pasting the dialogue. ("I don't give a damn about the rules!")

Who Made it Fresh?

The fact that this trope is so overused is why The Good Guys was able to spoof it so effortlessly:

  1. Twirling Our Mustaches Together

Sometimes the baddies just need to chat. This is can be fun in older superhero movies, because the villains are cartoonish weirdos and they make a lot of puns. In modern action flicks it tends to be pretty dull – we get it, they're evil.

Who Made it Fresh?

The Boys features a number of villain-on-villian chats that are funny, horrifying, and weird. Who's worse, the uber-capitalist Stan Edgar or the unhinged Homelander?

  1. Philosophical Differences

Before they get down to the business of punching, the good guys and the bad guys need to sit down and have a wordy discussion. Sometime it's just a prolonged "I'm gonna getcha!", sometimes it's a chance for the screenwriter to show off his C+ from Philosophy 101.

Who Made it Fresh?

The Spiderman: Homecoming car scene, which pairs the fear of a supervillain with the fear of meeting your girlfriend's dad:

  1. Para Bellum

Have you finished the third act of the movie? In that case, it's time to prepare for war, usually in a montage.

We've watched a hundred characters organize a big pile of guns and/or knives and/or high-tech weaponry. What makes this trope so overused is that there's very little you can do with it that hasn't been done a million times before…we all know what a pile of guns looks like at this point.

Who Made it Fresh?

John Wick 2 (2017) took this scene and added an ironic wine-tasting twist:

  1. The Bad Guy WON!

Oh no! It's the middle of the big showdown, and the bad guy WON!

  1. LOL, Just Kidding

We needed a moment of false despair, but don't worry – the good guys will win in the end (unless there's a sequel to set up, in which case they'll win next time).

Who Made it Fresh?

Serenity (2005) doesn't change up much in the final showdown, but the way it finishes – with the baddie shown his "world without sin" – is a clever little twist: