Slow-motion scenes are staples of the action-movie genre. In the right hands, they become signature set pieces and film iconography. In the wrong hands, you get giggles and lots of eye rolling.
As 300: Rise of an Empire battles its way into theaters this Friday, the over-cranked action of Zack Snyder's original 300 returns to get genre fans fist-pumping in the audience. To celebrate the film's release, here are 10 of our favorite slo-mo action scenes. After you enjoy this one from Rise of an Empire, that is:
1. The Matrix: Lobby Shootout
Neo's first trip through the Matrix is his best. While his bullet-time dodge of an agent's firepower is iconic, the film's most fun use of the then-pioneering effect when Neo and Trinity go trigger happy in some poor office building's lobby. "Whoa" indeed.
2. Hard Boiled: Hospital Shootout
Before John Woo hit hard times with movies like Windtalkers and Paycheck, the master of slo-mo gunfights featuring doves arguably hit its stride with Hard Boiled. So many great scenes, but this end-all-be-all gun battle in a hospital may just be the best.
3. 300: Spartans vs. Persians
Zack Snyder never met a scene he couldn't over amp. For better or worse, Snyder's hit 2005 film is the reason why so many filmmakers have adopted his signature approach to action set pieces as their own. We'll stick with the original.
4. The Wild Bunch: Climatic Final Showdown
A bloody mix of under-cranked and normal-speed violence that inspired at least eleventy million action movies that followed it. From six-shooters to vintage gatling gun, director Sam Peckinpah fills the action-packed climax with both gritty gunplay and emotional gut punches concerning the fates of our titular characters.
5. The Untouchables: Train Station Shootout
Cinema is full of homages and parodies to this iconic sequence from De Palma's 1987 hit, and for good reason. If there is another scene out there that milks so much sustained tension with the slo-mo, we don't wanna know about it.
6. Watchmen: Opening Titles
Quite possibly the best, most artistic thing Zack Snyder will ever execute. Watch.
7. Sherlock Holmes: Fist vs. Jaw
Sherlock Holmes: first-gen MMA fighter. Robert Downey Jr.'s take on the popular detective is equal parts brain and brawn, as seen in this bare-knuckle brawl documenting a punch's shockwave effect on various parts of some poor guy's anatomy.
8. Face/Off: Nic Cage Dives While Shooting, Audiences Better for It
John Woo's best American film is pure guilty pleasure fuel. This 1997 action film is proof that Nic Cage used to appear in ridiculously fun movies, instead of just ridiculous ones.
9. Inception: The Van/The Kick
In Christopher Nolan's plot-twisty masterpiece Inception, the director grounds the slow motion in his film's reality. The visual device isn't used because "it looks cool;" it's critical to the plot and rules of the movie, which is why it's awesome.
10. The Hurt Locker: Run Away from the Explosion
This 2009 Best Picture winner contains many gritty, tense scenes. But its most iconic involves the most panic-breath-inducing bomb sequence ever.
What's your favorite slo-mo scene?