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Contemporary Action Cinema

Lisa Purse

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Action cinema is a popular and familiar form which reflects the cultural, industrial and historical landscape from which it emerges. Lisa Purse analyses the genre's pleasures and complexities in the light of both its cinematic history and the latest critical debates. Focussing on action cinema of the 2000s, this book explores issues of visual style, narrative, representation and the various contexts of production through a diverse series of case studies including Avatar (2009), Casino Royale (2006), The Hurt Locker (2008) and Banlieue 13 (2004).

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Introduction: 'Where are we, and how did we get here?'
1. Narrative and the action film
2. The action body
3. The action sequence
4. Action women
5. Action men
6. Race in the action film
7. Homosexuality in the action film
8. Action cinema after 9/11
9. The 'European connection'

About the Author

Dr Lisa Purse is Associate Professor in Film in the Department of Film, Theatre & Television at the University of Reading.


A valuable contribution to analysis of the action film, offering sustained examination of the formal qualities of action set-pieces and the ideological frameworks in which they are typically embedded.
- Geoff King, Professor of Film & TV Studies, Brunel University
An impressive, intelligent book which takes account of the genre's past but focuses attention on its present. Both rigorous and engaging, Purse brings our understanding of action up to date.
- Yvonne Tasker, University of East Anglia