Or is it just Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt chasing tornadoes?
This is a discussion for you: the Ultimate Action Movie Club to answer. Should Twister (1996), starring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton, be considered an action movie? This is an important discussion because at this point in the Ultimate Action Movie Club’s existence, we need to set some broad precedents for which all potential action movies should be treated.
A Disaster Adventure Film
According to both Wikipedia and IMDB, Twister is merely a disaster and an adventure film. However, both those labels frequently cross with action. Speed or even Die Hard come to mind for disaster films. I mean, a terrorist attack is certainly a disaster. While adventures like Indiana Jones or Chuck Norris in Firewalker should easily fit the bill. However, Twister seems to sidewind its own labels.
Where is the Action?
In many ways, this “is ____ an action movie?” discussion should really be answered by one question: where is the action? In Twister’s case, the action is pretty much just centered around the titular twisters, and then the bum rushing car chases to catch up with them. There’s some gentle fisticuffs between the Bill and Dr. Jonas Miller, but the majority of the “action” is from natural elements.
Conflict, Nicknames and One-Liners
However, while the action may be limited in the traditional fight scenes and shootouts, there are some ultimate action movie elements to consider. First, the conflict is pretty great. Bill and Jo’s ragtag team of meteorologists (featuring a wise-cracking Philip Seymour Hoffman – RIP) pits well against the slime-ball nightcrawler Dr. Jonas Miller corporate sellouts who aren’t even in it for the science!
There’s also the great character nicknames. First and foremost, Bill Paxton’s character is Bill “THE EXTREME” Harding. Do you think anyone else besides Arnold or Van Damme could pull off being “THE EXTREME”? And Paxton doesn’t even rip his shirt off. Not even once! Doesn’t need to.
Finally, Twister does have plenty of excellent one-liners. I wouldn’t go as far as to call any of them “ultimate” one-liners. Paxton never stares down a twister and mutters about how he’s “getting storming mad” or anything cool like that. But it does have “we got cows.”
Twister: An Ultimate Action Movie
In conclusion, you may be able to argue that Twister is an action movie on some technical grounds of the genre. It has action elements, it has excitement, it has heroes and villains. However, to make it an ultimate action movie it would need some major thematic adjustments, which I present below.
First, for Helen Hunt to really get revenge for the death of her father, DOROTHY is not some device used to monitor tornado scientific elements, but a bomb device used to eradicate tornadoes from the American Midwest. Their ragtag crew is put together by others hurt by tornadoes in the past and they’re all out for calculated revenge.
Bill Paxton would be less of a normcore dad, and more of a hard-drinking cowboy who truly embodies the moniker of THE EXTREME. I’m picturing shirtlessly sauntering towards an oncoming twister and hurling a whiskey bottle at it and firing a bazooka because its winds put out his cigarette.
And for the climax, Helen and Bill can still reconnect – all ultimate action movies need an ultimate love story! – but they do so by kicking Jonas (who is handcuffed to the DOROTHY device) off the back of their pickup truck as they speed away from the near-nuclear level explosion which ends tornadoes once and for all.
Do you consider Twister an “ultimate” action movie? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page!