In order to qualify as an action movie, it must have a significant portion of the film devoted to action, though the action can of course be in many forms, such as:
- Fights (gun, sword, unarmed, magic)
- Chases and races (foot, horse, car, broom, etc.)
- Military battles (land, air, sea, space)
- Adventuring (navigating dangerous areas, such as lost temples, enemy bases, monster-infested swamps, etc.)
When I say “realistic”, I guess I’m looking for realism in:
Physics, or science in general. Note that a film can presuppose certain impossible facts (such as: magic exists and can be wielded by humans), but the rest of it must fall in line with the laws of physics, unless it is clearly overruled by the film’s own laws of physics, which must also be applied consistently.
Characters (scripting and acting). People reacting realistically to events unfolding and each other. Keanu Reeves need not apply.
Logic. Things must make sense. It’s OK for movie characters to be stupid or do stupid things, but geniuses in a given field shouldn’t make 100 stupid mistakes that should be covered quite well by their skill set. For example, a super assassin whose face is known would not cross from Canada to the USA in a well-publicized and broadcast boat race. He also would not, if he suspects his car has been identified, keep driving the same minivan around and only paint it different colors from time to time. He would obtain a new damn car. Also, super villain plans should not be so overly convoluted that it relies on the heroes doing exactly A, B, C, D, E, and F, in that order, exactly when they predict.
I don’t reasonably expect any action movie to actually fulfill the title of “realistic movie”, but I’m curious to find out which come closest.
I’ll throw my hat in the ring with: Crimson Tide. I felt that the premise was quite capable of taking place, the characters’ actions pretty much followed through in believable, consistent ways, and most of the participants acted logically, from their point of view. I’m not sure if this can actually be called an “action movie”, since there is not a lot of actual action on screen, but it definitely tingled with potentially-explosive energy throughout, like a leaking gas stove.