While few people ever pictured Bob Odenkirk as an action star, his new movie Nobody has been a surprise, as the actor makes for a real badass. His casting works especially well in the story of a seemingly mild-mannered and disrespected guy who is hiding a deadly past as an assassin.
The movie is yet another of the tried and true “everyman” action movie genre. These movies can deal with a seemingly average protagonist who is hiding an action-packed life or an unassuming person and is unexpectedly drawn into a world of action and mayhem. Nobody is a great addition and there are plenty of similar gems to enjoy.
10 Enemy Of The State (1998)
Will Smith developed a persona as one of the biggest action movie stars of the ’90s, but he managed to drop that persona to play the rare role of a man who was totally out of his element. In Enemy of the State, Smith plays a successful attorney who becomes the target of a rogue government surveillance outfit.
Despite Smith’s star-power, he was effective as the mild-mannered family man whose life is torn apart and is sent on the run. The movie boasts an exciting ’90s cast and a fun supporting turn from Gene Hackman as a hacker who helps Smith.
9 The Rock (1996)
Though he has appeared in many action movies in the last couple of decades, there was a time when the idea of Nicolas Cage being an action hero seemed very odd. The Rock played into that unexpected bit of casting as Cage plays a biochemist who is sucked into a mission to save the day.
Cage has a lot of fun hamming it up as the nervous and gun-shy hero alongside Sean Connery as the badass former soldier. Together they must sneak into Alcatraz where a rogue ground of elite commandos have taken hostages and threaten to launch biological weapons.
8 True Lies (1994)
As iconic as the Terminator franchise is, True Lies is a hugely entertaining collaboration between James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger that also should have become a franchise. Schwarzenegger plays a super spy trying to stop terrorists from launching a nuclear weapon.
While Schwarzenegger as a world-saving hero doesn’t seem very “everyman,” Jamie Lee Curtis plays his wife who thinks her husband is a boring office drone. Eventually, she is drawn into his dangerous and exciting double life.
7 Duel (1971)
Long before he was making the iconic blockbusters he is now known for, Steven Spielberg impressed a lot of people with his thrilling TV movie Duel. The movie benefits from a very simple premise about a man making the long drive back home when he becomes targeted by a madman driving a truck.
The complete randomness of this unseen truck driver stalking and terrorizing the unassuming man makes it an effective thriller. It is a survival story of a man who is pushed to the edge and fights back with everything he has.
6 The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
While the assassin with amnesia is a pretty worn-out concept for action movies, it was still fresh enough in The Long Kiss Goodnight. Geena Davis plays a suburban housewife whose perfect life is turned upside down after an accident awakens her past memories and brings old enemies into her life.
Davis is great as the ordinary woman who gradually reconnects with her old self, ranging from badass to terrifying. The movie also works as a great buddy action movie as Samuel L. Jackson is hilarious as a sleazy detective who becomes wrapped up in her case.
5 Upgrade (2018)
For fans of the sci-fi action genre, Upgrade is an underrated gem that cannot be missed. The movie is set in the not-too-distant future in which A.I. is controlling most aspects of daily life. A tech-wary man is left paraplegic following an attack that killed his wife. However, he is offered a state-of-the-art A.I. system to take control of his body and help him regain his life.
With the extremely impressive upgrade, the man uses it to start tracking down the men who killed his wife. When things get dangerous, he discovers his new A.I. allows him to do things he never could before.
4 Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)
One of the hallmarks of the “everyman” action movie genre is an ordinary person being exposed to an extraordinary world they didn’t know existed. Such is the case with the wild and fun spy comedy, Kingsman.
Taron Egerton found his breakout role in the first movie as Eggsy, a young street kid who is recruited into a top-secret intelligence organization. There he is trained and developed into a top-notch spy with a touch of class.
3 Big Trouble In Little China (1986)
Kurt Russell and John Carpenter have had a number of memorable collaborations over the years, but Big Trouble in Little China might be their most underrated project. A lot of what makes this wild movie so much fun is Russell’s hero Jack Burton.
Jack is a truck driver who helps his friend rescue his fiancée from supernatural forces that take over Chinatown. Jack fits the everyman mold so well. Seeing such an ordinary guy being thrown into such a wild situation with no idea what is going on is so much fun.
2 The Fugitive (1993)
Another element that can come up in these types of movies is the idea of a hero who is wrongfully accused and forced to go on the run. And no movie does that type of story better than The Fugitive.
Harrison Ford plays a celebrated doctor who is accused of killing his wife. After escaping police custody, he attempts to find the real killer while evading a determined U.S. Marshal who is hot on his trail. Ford sheds his iconic action hero persona to convincingly play a desperate man.
1 The Matrix (1999)
The Matrix is certainly one of the most influential action movies of all time, but it is also a great story about an ordinary man who is taken on a journey “through the rabbit hole.” Keanu Reeves plays Neo, who is plucked from his aimless and dull life and told a horrifying secret about the world he lives in.
From there, Neo goes on an incredible journey of discovering the truth about his existence and being told that he is the savior humanity has been waiting for.
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