10 Best Friendships In Action Movies
Characterization and character development are usually the least of an action movie’s concerns. The focus is usually on explosions and car chases and quippy one-liners. But the action genre is home to some of cinema’s most beloved characters, from John McClane to John Connor, and their friendships with supporting players like Al Powell and the T-800 make for some of cinema’s most endearing dynamics.
From Maverick and Goose in Top Gun to Indiana Jones and Short Round in Temple of Doom to Dom and Brian in The Fast and the Furious, there are some beautiful friendships to be found in action movies.
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Johnny Utah & Bodhi (Point Break)
On paper, the premise of Point Break sounds like it shouldn’t work. The concept of an undercover FBI agent ignoring his duties because he finds the perp too charming to turn him in is ridiculous.
But it works beautifully because the on-screen dynamic developed by Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze is strong enough to convince audiences of that premise. Swayze really is that charismatic and his unbreakable bond with Reeves really is palpable.
Indy & Short Round (Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom)
Dr. Jones was joined by two travel companions in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. While his romantic interest Willie Scott was just a one-note damsel in distress, his orphaned 11-year-old sidekick Short Round has become a beloved icon.
Making Indy a father figure in his second adventure made him a more sympathetic and well-rounded character. Ke Huy Quan nailed all the one-liners and made a great comedic foil for the deadpan Harrison Ford.
Jack Walsh & The Duke (Midnight Run)
With its tale of a mismatched duo gradually becoming close friends over the course of a tumultuous road trip, Midnight Run is essentially Planes, Trains & Automobiles with guns. Robert De Niro stars as Jack Walsh, a grizzled bounty hunter, while Charles Grodin plays mafia accountant Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas, his latest bounty.
Jack initially has no patience for the Duke and can’t wait to turn him in. But by the end of the movie, he’s willing to put his life on the line to protect the Duke from the mobsters on his tail.
John Connor & The T-800 (Terminator 2: Judgment Day)
The first Terminator movie is a gritty, ultraviolent mix of neo-noir and slasher. The second movie, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, is just as violent and action-packed, but it’s a lot sweeter than its predecessor. The sequel develops into a sort of boy-and-his-dog story as a T-800 is sent back in time to protect a young John Connor and he teaches the Terminator to be human.
At the end of the movie, against John’s wishes, the Terminator allows himself to be smelted to prevent the rise of Skynet. But he assures his young ward, “I know now why you cry,” and gives a final thumbs-up as he’s submerged in molten steel.
John McClane & Al Powell (Die Hard)
For most of Die Hard, John McClane is a lone wolf. He takes on Hans Gruber and his merry band of European terrorists singlehandedly while Agents Johnson and Johnson completely mismanage the hostage crisis. The majority of the LAPD cops down on the ground work against McClane, not with him.
But there’s one crucial exception, Sergeant Al Powell, who acts as a middleman between McClane and the cops. Bruce Willis and Reginald VelJohnson shared such great chemistry as fellow lawmen that Powell was brought back in the sequel, despite being unnecessary to the plot.
Léon & Mathilda (Léon: The Professional)
Natalie Portman made her unforgettable movie debut in Léon: The Professional as the orphaned 12-year-old protégé of the titular hitman. Jean Reno stars as Léon, the lonesome contract killer who becomes a reluctant father figure when his young neighbor’s entire family is massacred by a crooked DEA agent.
What makes this movie so special is that it’s a cross between a blood-soaked assassin thriller like John Wick and a heartwarming father-daughter bonding story like Paper Moon.
Maverick & Goose (Top Gun)
Much like its recently released hit sequel, Tony Scott’s thrilling military actioner Top Gun strikes the perfect balance between airborne spectacle and emotional character beats. The heartwarming friendship shared by Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and his junior-grade wingman Nick “Goose” Bradshaw brings a dramatic resonance to the action.
The interplay between Tom Cruise and Anthony Edwards is just as much fun as any of the high-octane dogfight sequences. Goose’s untimely passing is one of the saddest death scenes in the history of action cinema.
Han Solo & Chewbacca (Star Wars)
There are a bunch of fan-favorite friendships in the Star Wars universe, from C-3PO and R2-D2 to Luke Skywalker and Ben Kenobi, but by far the most adorable pairing is Han Solo and his Wookiee companion Chewbacca. The captain and co-captain of the Millennium Falcon always have each other’s backs.
According to ComicBook.com, George Lucas based Chewbacca on his dog – an Alaskan malamute named Indiana – who, like Chewie to Lucas’ Han, would ride shotgun with him whenever he went for a drive.
Dom Toretto & Brian O’Conner (The Fast And The Furious)
The central dynamic in The Fast and the Furious – an undercover FBI agent and the criminal with whom he becomes such good friends that he doesn’t want to turn him in – is cribbed from Point Break. But Vin Diesel and Paul Walker’s on-screen chemistry is strong enough to make it work on its own terms.
Dom Toretto and Brian O’Conner’s friendship became the heart of the franchise. After Walker’s tragic passing while shooting Furious 7, Brian was given the perfect send-off with his final race with Dom set to Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again.”
Martin Riggs & Roger Murtaugh (Lethal Weapon)
The “buddy cop” genre predates the Lethal Weapon franchise, but Lethal Weapon is the movie that solidified all the tropes, launched a lucrative franchise, and got every studio in Hollywood to try to replicate its success. Some of that success can be attributed to Shane Black’s perfectly crafted script, but most of it is down to the central dynamic.
Mel Gibson and Danny Glover shared such incredible chemistry in the roles of Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh that their on-screen pairing sustained for three sequels. At first, Riggs and Murtaugh are the ultimate odd couple. But by the end of the first movie, they’re the best of friends.
NEXT: 10 Best Action Movie Sidekicks