I have watched a great deal of action movies throughout the years, mainly because action-style movies are my favorite kind of movies. In watching them, I’ve seen quite a few cliches, but I will only cover a few that really bug me.
A.) It is a war movie, you see the hero early on, it focuses heavily on the main character. It shows his buddies who are also very eager to join the war. First cliche here, the eager buddies usually die first, even though they seem much more trained than the hero. They all mourn the guy’s death, its all sentimental, and another character reveals he has either a newborn son he hasn’t met yet or a pregnant wife whom is about to go into labor. Next scene, he dies. The remaining group of guys all huddle together, they get sent to the back of the line for a break usually. If they skip this part of the plot line, then they go directly into a big battle directly after the remaining squad is talking to each other about their fear of death, and then they plan out their attack. It is an eerie silence, then the battle starts. Everything seems to be going down from the start of the battle, big explosions and bullet ricochets everywhere. The squad starts a retreat, someone gets picked off by the enemy. Everyone sees it, and at least one person will try to go back for them. He ends up getting shot as well. The remaining squad keeps retreating, while taking down enemies at the same time. Eventually someone else in the squad gets picked off, and this keeps happening until there are only a few squad-mates left, usually only 3-4 max. They keep fighting until the bitter end. Then the SGT usually tells them to go(usually its the SGT, regardless of who, someone in the squad does this), and he’ll cover their escape. The squad reluctantly goes, making it a safe distance before turning around just in time to see their comrade drop. They are saved by an air strike, or reinforcements(but usually the air strike), as they continue the retreat. The remaining squad-mates talk about how they survived, and think about the events of the day. Cliche tank man pops out, or another soldier, and says “It looked like you guys needed some help” or “You guys had a heck of a fight” or some other remark that would make anyone in their right mind want to smack the man. Then the soldiers get up and walk away, sometimes the screen fades out and it ends there, or sometimes it fades out and fades back in and the soldiers reunite with their families. End.
B.) Someone is running from a government branch. That someone is usually a criminal, or someone who worked with the government and was set up to make it look like it was them. When they find out they’ve been set up, a dramatic car chase ensues. The “hero” promptly escapes after a series of close calls, car crashes, and randomly placed explosions for effects. He then looks for someone he can trust; he goes to his wife/girlfriend, and sometimes the girl turns against him, though most of the time she smacks him and asks what he has gotten himself into. After explaining everything, he leaves the girl to find some answers. He tends to find someone in the government branch he can trust, or a mole, or even someone else they are hunting. He unites with this new character, and together they plot against the branch to try and clear their names. Usually the government will find their hideout, and the group escapes the hideout with agents shooting at them the entire way. Sometimes the “heroes” will blow up their old hiding spot for cover, and then after another shootout/car chase, the 2 heroes get into some fight and split. Each goes off to find out more about who set them up, and both end up in the same place looking for the same guy. They are reluctant to help each other, but eventually do, and most of the time they screw up their chance here to take the guy down. They escape again while being chased. They then strike a deal with the man who set them up, usually its because the man has taken their wife/girlfriend/child, and is holding them hostage. They go, pretending they will do the deal, and end up fighting the main “villain” and his “henchmen.” One man takes out the henchmen, while the other takes out the main guy, because for some reason he has a personal beef with the guy. After defeating the henchmen, guy #2 goes to help guy #1, and they defeat the main guy, proving their innocence somehow. They reunite with the hostage, and promptly escape. They usually get their lives back at this point. The end.
C.) It is an alien invader style movie. It starts out with no problems whatsoever and everything is fine and dandy. This is where it can take 2 different directions. Either the aliens sneaks onto the planet and nobody knows it is there, or it is a full out assault. In the first one, the stealthy aliens will attack a bunch of citizens, and the cops look for a murderer. Usually, the hero is the main suspect, of course. In the other style, the hero is usually a squadron commander or special ops scientist or something along those lines. In the first movie, the aliens will make themselves noticeable only after taking out a large number of people. The second, the aliens appear to come in peace at first, but then attack randomly. After the battle ensues, both movies basically tie into each other. The commander veers off from the attack because his troops are dieing, or the hero realizes his friends are dieing from aliens and they try to escape. During their escape, their friends get killed off randomly, and there are a lot of sentimental moments, where the hero either kills a few aliens, or injures the main alien. They then find a place that is “safe” and figure out a way to kill off the aliens. This can end in one of two ways: They don’t find a way to do it any normal way, and the government blows them up with a nuclear missile and covers it up as a reactor explosion, OR they find the alien weakness and destroy them, thus saving Earth. Usually the movies end the same way, only the hero and a couple of friends survive. Usually the family members will be the last ones to die, and sacrifice themselves in the escape, or something close. The movie ends with them either celebrating their escape, or the government covering it up.
These are only 3 of the most used plot lines for each genre that I could think of. If you have anything you would like to add, please feel free to comment. As always, thanks for reading.