Staying home for the Christmas holidays? Other than enjoying festive meals and opening presents, it’s a jolly good time to enjoy movies at the comfort of your own home as well. But rather than inspiring and meaningful Christmas-themed dramas or comedies, let’s talk about something different instead. And that is, Christmas-set action movies filled with violence, shootouts, chase and explosions. If that’s your idea of entertainment, here are 10 Christmas Action Movies Worth Checking Out in alphabetical order.
1) Batman Returns (1992)
Dark, gothic elements in the mould of a superhero genre that takes place during the Christmas season? Well, that’s what defines Tim Burton’s “Batman Returns”. The sequel to the massively popular 1989 movie, where we have Batman (Michael Keaton) out to stop Penguin (Danny DeVito) and Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer). We get all the essential Christmas references: snow falling in Gotham City, a huge Christmas tree and such. But being a Tim Burton’s film, there’s nothing jolly and festive about this movie. Words like “cold” and “twisted” are more like it. Even businessman Max Shreck’s (Christopher Walken) Christmas speech about “world peace and unconditional love wrapped in a big bow” feels surreal and ominous.
2) Behind Enemy Lines (2001)
Let’s face it, the name “Owen Wilson” is often associated with comedies. But in the case of this 2001 war-action film “Behind Enemy Lines”, it wants us to accept Owen Wilson as a Navy fighter pilot, who finds himself in enemy territory after being shot down during a routine surveillance mission on Christmas. It certainly takes a while to get used to Owen playing an action hero. But the movie does work as a stylish action movie with some worthwhile entertaining moments and Wilson’s engaging lead performance. You can stream “Behind Enemy Lines” on Netflix.
3) Die Hard (1988)
Celebrating Christmas Eve is supposed to be fun and enjoyable. But not for NYPD cop John McClane (Bruce Willis), who finds himself trapped in the office building full of heavily-armed terrorists led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). They held all the office workers as hostages and one of them happens to be McClane’s wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia).
He’s pretty much on his own here, relying on his street smarts and cop instincts to save the hostages and his wife. And of course, throwing wisecracking jokes every now and then. You can stream this 1988 groundbreaking action classic on Netflix.
4) Die Hard 2 (1990)
“How can the same sh** happen to the same guy twice?”
John McClane (Bruce Willis) complained as he finds himself unexpectedly caught in the terrorist situation… again in “Die Hard 2”. True to the Hollywood sequel formula, it’s bigger with more action and even the setting this time around takes place in and around the Washington Dulles International Airport. On Christmas Eve, that is. Never the mind the fact that “Die Hard 2” feels like it’s trying to be a Bond movie. But the sequel did deliver all the necessary cinematic fun and excitement as it should.
5) Iron Man 3 (2013)
In Marvel’s “Iron Man 3”, the hugely-successful third movie in the franchise gets all Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”-like vibes, with Robert Downey Jr.’s titular character facing the ghosts of his past. And of course, dealing with them. Such a theme found in a Marvel movie shouldn’t be surprising, given the fact it was written and directed by Shane Black. The same screenwriter who gave us the Christmas-set action movies like “Lethal Weapon” and “The Long Kiss Goodnight”.
6) Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Being a Shane Black film, setting his indie crime comedy during the Christmas season has become one of his trademarks since “Lethal Weapon”. He even had then-unknown Michelle Monaghan, who later appeared in “Mission: Impossible” sequels, dressed in a Santa getup.
“Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” may have been underrated at the time of its release. But it has become a cult favourite ever since, with some of the praises going to Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer’s excellent performances.
7) Lethal Weapon (1987)
It’s doom and gloom, with themes of drugs and suicidal tendencies blanketed in the otherwise buddy-cop action-comedy of “Lethal Weapon”. The latter part refers to Mel Gibson’s loose-cannon LAPD cop Martin Riggs, who loves to do things his own reckless way. He teams up with a by-the-book old-timer and family man Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) to infiltrate a huge drug-trafficking operation. With Christmas being one of the central themes, “Lethal Weapon” has everything from the “Jingle Bell Rock” song playing in the opening credits to the familiar story of redemption and family values.
8) Reindeer Games (2000)
Anyone remember this little-seen Christmas-set action thriller “Reindeer Games”, which starred Ben Affleck as an ex-con participating in a casino heist led by Gary Sinise’s Gabriel? The climactic heist sequence features Ben Affleck’s Rudy and the rest of the criminals dressed up as Santa Claus and rob the casino. And yes, the movie is also wrapped up with the classic Christmas song of “Little Drummer Boy”.
9) Rocky IV (1985)
The hugely-popular “Rocky IV” has several iconic moments from the death of Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) to the extended training montage on a frozen landscape. More importantly, the climactic finale where Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) takes on the towering Soviet opponent Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren). And yes, the boxing match takes place on Christmas Day.
10) The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
An underrated action gem from screenwriter Shane Black, we get all the snow and the cosiness of family values in “The Long Kiss Goodnight”. At least during the earlier parts of the movie, where we first met a mild-mannered schoolteacher Samantha Caine (Geena Davis) living a happy life with her boyfriend and her boyfriend’s daughter. But Samantha actually suffers from amnesia and later finds out she’s a government assassin. Naturally, the ghosts of her past catches up with her. Several action sequences follows, with Geena Davis convincingly morphing from an ordinary schoolteacher role to a bleached-blonde action hero. If you have yet to check it out, you can do so now on Netflix.