Personal, subjective rankings with a short commentary.


Back to the Future

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Year: 1985

Running Time: 116 minutes

Despite Back to the Future being slightly longer than ninety minutes, I find this to be the Platonic Ideal of the 90 Minute Action Movie. High schooler Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and his pal Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) test out his time machine in a mall parking lot. When Brown is killed by Libyan terrorists, Marty races back in time to 1955. He reconnects with Doc Brown and meets his parents as high schoolers.

A seamless plot, rife with setups, payoffs, and callbacks, has its climax as Marty races to hit an electrified wire powered by a lightning strike. Will he make it … back to the future? The film epitomizes Eighties cinema at its best, along with a sly satire of the Fifties, a decade worshiped by Reaganite pinheads as the American Ideal. Fifties Doc Brown can’t wrap his head around Ronald Reagan being president. (“Then who’s vice president? Jerry Lewis?”)

While the film spawned two sequels and an animated series, the first film stands on its own as a classic. An origin story with a short running time, it represents one of those rare instances where everything snaps together – acting, score, screenplay, direction, etc. – into a flawless whole.

What are some of your favorite action movie? Let us know in the comments.

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