Budding action writer? Download the most gripping screenplays here for free
We’re headed back to the inspiration station for another weekly installment of the best screenplays available to download for free. Yes, you read that right. Free! As in zero dollars, pesos, yuan, rupees, bitcoin, or whatever currency you’re currently dealing with. As we always say, the simplest way to learn about the craft is from the work of other screenwriters.
There are endless sources of inspiration that can be found by studying and analysing the traits and stylistic techniques of your favorite artists, helping you to fine-tune your script and discover new ways to make it stand out from the crowd.
We’ve compiled a list of some of Hollywood’s action-adventure classics so that any of you budding scriptwriters out there can take your own personal masterclass to swot up on how to supplement those action scenes with equally gripping dialogue. Without further ado, let’s get stuck in!
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
Screenplay by Tony Gilroy, Scott Z. Burns, and George Nolfi
Loosely based on the novel of the same name by Robert Ludlum, The Bourne Ultimatum is the third in the Jason Bourne film series, starring Matt Damon (Downsizing) as the titular character who dodges a ruthless CIA official and his agents from a new assassination program while searching for the origins of his life as a trained killer. The script is a masterclass in action writing, showing how to create a sense of urgency while nailing the pacing of a story.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Screenplay by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan
An absolutely iconic contribution to the Batman canon, director Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight is the second part to his The Dark Knight Trilogy, with a fantastic ensemble cast.
Christian Bale (American Psycho), Michael Caine (The Italian Job), Heath Ledger (10 Things I Hate About You), Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour), Aaron Eckhart (Rabbit Hole), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko) and Morgan Freeman (Se7en) star. The screenplay – written by Nolan along with his brother – received high praise from the critics, most notably for giving the Batman franchise a dark edge.
Die Hard (1998)
Screenplay by Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza
When you think of action films, you think of Die Hard. According to Script Reader Pro, De Souza (Commando) reportedly wrote the script to this notorious action movie as if the antagonist (Gruber) were the protagonist. “If he had not planned the robbery and put it together, Bruce Willis would have just gone to the party and reconciled or not with his wife. You should sometimes think about looking at your movie through the point of view of the villain who is really driving the narrative.” Solid advice – budding writers, take note!
Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Screenplay by Ted Griffin
It might be all about the gender-swapped Ocean’s 8 right now, but unfortunately it just does not surpass Steven Soderbergh’s (Unsane) adaptation of the 60s crime saga. Writer Ted Griffin (Killers) took the original and adapted it into one of the greatest heist stories of all time. If you’re looking to develop your action screenwriting skills, the script for Ocean’s Eleven is a great place to start to find out how to add wit and charm to your story and characters.
The Matrix (1999)
Screenplay by Larry Wachowski and Andy Wachowski
Do you want to take the red pill and see how deep the rabbit hole goes? Then check out the Wachowski’s screenplay for their iconic sci-fi action-thriller The Matrix. Not only were the effects ahead of their time, but the writer-director team did not falter with the dialogue. Although the Wachowski’s pitched the script to Warner Bros., the company was skeptical of its philosophical musings and tricky special effects for the time.
However, “the brothers then decided to bring on board underground comic book artists Steve Skroce and Geof Darrow to storyboard the entire film, shot-by-shot,” noted Script Reader Pro. “Warners were impressed and the rest, as they say, is history.”