Why We Can't Get Enough of Steven Spielberg's Action Scenes

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

This new video essay shows the legendary director knows that the best action moments are attention-grabbing and character-driven.

We at Film School Rejects are not the first to sing Steven Spielberg’s praises for his iconic moments in adventure films like the Indiana Jones series; I’m not even the first person here to do it this year! His work warrants this amount of discussion and close attention even to attempt to catch all of the small moments he includes in his vast body of work.

While Spielberg may currently be enjoying the more serious, adult-oriented portion of his career, his new fantasy feature Ready Player One is just around the corner, opening on March 29. With stunning visuals and loads of action, the film will hopefully feel like and remain as memorable as some of his earlier work. Johnathon O. Rose-Lyon of Make Stuff offers some interesting analysis as to why the director’s take on action sticks with us so well: creative hooks.

Rose-Lyon defines a hook as “a creative and memorable moment in action,” likening it to the role jokes serve to comedy. These specific moments are the ones that will remain with the audience over larger fights or action sequences. Some examples include Okoye throwing her wig at her assailant in Black Panther, Wonder Woman stepping on to No Man’s Land in Wonder Woman, or Neo dodging the slow-motion bullets in The Matrix. A hook does not have to always have to be funny, character-defining, or epically engineered, but they might work better when they are.

An instantly iconic hook is in the scene from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark where an exhausted Indy shoots the showy swordsmen rather participate in a long sword fight. One hook, expertly employed. But what about a whole scene made up of hooks? In Rose-Lyon’s essay, he breaks down Spielberg’s German tank chase in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which consisted of fourteen hooks in about ten minutes.

Watch the video below and witness a master crafting compelling action scenes filled with moments that remain with audiences long after the film is over.

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