By: Kurt van Aswegen

From the inventive hallway fight scene in Inception, to the jaw-dropping one-shot scene in True Detective, here is a list of 3 incredible action scenes.

Inception – Hallway Fight Scene


Inception – Syncopy Pictures

One of the most memorable fight scenes is the zero-gravity hallway fight in “Inception.” Rather than relying on CG, the scene was shot with practical effects. According to Wally Pfister, the director of photography, the intricate set piece was the film’s most technically challenging sequence. Five hundred crew members were involved in creating the scene, which took three weeks to complete.

The massive, rotating sets were built in converted blimp hangars in Bedfordshire, England. A remote-controlled camera was installed along a floor-mounted track, as the set began to spin a camera operator drove the camera along the track. With the camera matching the speed of the room, the audience feels anchored and the actors appear to defy gravity.

Christopher Nolan explains: “What I wanted to do for the zero gravity sequences was to take an ordinary environment and achieve this very congruent zero gravity effect. We did it through a number of different rigs and in the final edit what you see is shot to shot to shot it tends to be a different orientation and a completely different rig in each shot and I think that more than anything else really stops the audience of seeing the trick of how this scene is done.”


True Detective “Who Goes There” – Housing Project Raid

True Detective

True Detective – HBO

In one of the best action scenes on television, the six-minute unbroken tracking shot follows Matthew McConaughey’s character as he takes part in a raid that goes horribly wrong. The shot involves multiple actors and extras, with movement through houses and over the fences of a housing project.

The director, Cary Fukunaga, insisted on shooting the sequence in an actual housing project. Once he had permission to shoot there, he plotted out the most interesting and most logical path that the character would take. They had little more than a day to rehearse and in the end it took seven takes of the single, six-minute action shot before they had one they could use.

Fukunaga told MTV about the complicated shot: “We had ADs [assistant directors] all over the neighborhood because we had to release extras, crowd running background, police cars, stunt drivers. There were actual gun shots and stones being thrown through windows. There were a lot of things to put together.”

Ultimately, it all came together as one of the most incredible action scenes ever filmed for television.


Quicksilver’s Slow-Motion Scene in ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’

X-Men Days of Future Past  - 20th Century Fox

X-Men Days of Future Past – 20th Century Fox

Quicksilver’s slow-motion prison break, where he breaks Magneto, Professor X and Wolverine out of a maximum security facility, is the perfect way to showcase his mutant ability while at the same time giving audiences a breathtaking action scene. The slow-motion sequence is a blend of live action, computer-generated objects and  visual effects. Scores of CG props were made, among them were frying pans, knives and bullets, as well as cascades of water droplets.

Writer Simon Kinberg explains how they made the sequence happen, “So most of that [scene] was shot in camera. Yeah, because it was shot at super-high speeds. If you go on the Internet and search super-high-speed photography, it’s all of those effects like where he touches the guy’s cheek and it bends. It’s just because the camera has been so sped up.” By speeding up the frame rate on everything but Evan Peters, they could then film the actor at regular speed. When combined, it would make Quicksilver appear as if he’s moving 150-times faster than everything else in the room.

The crowd-pleasing scene was a late addition to the film. It was initially supposed to be Juggernaut who helped break Magneto out of prison. Luckily, Bryan Singer came up with the swap and brought us Quicksilver in all his speedy goodness.


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