30 Life Lessons From Action Movies

Troy (2004)

The Life Lesson: Never send a boy to do a man’s job.

How It’s Taught: When Paris calls out Menelaus, it surprises precisely no-one when the young upstart is given a sound beating.

Lessons however are not learned, as Achilles’ young cousin Patroclus is sent to fight Hector whilst the main man lies sleeping.

Unsurprisingly, Patroclus isn’t up to the job and ends up dead for his troubles. You can’t win anything with kids.

The Matrix (1999)

The Life Lesson: Technology is fundamentally dangerous.

How It’s Taught: You might think the iPad is the future, but you’d be wrong. Sentient, power-hungry machines are the future, and if we let them carry on evolving, they’ll be using us as batteries in no time.

Neo thought he was a slave to the machines in his day job as a computer programmer, but that was just the start of it. THEY ARE OUT TO GET US!

Stop reading this and smash up your laptop immediately. But download our app first.

Roadhouse (1989)

The Life Lesson: Be nice to people, unless you need to give them a hiding.

How It’s Taught: Patrick Swayze’s character spends a large portion of the movie practising a Zen-like level of restraint, cooling down bar fights without dishing out any pain.

This seems to be the way to go, although the movie is very clear that sometimes, violence is definitely called for.

When Swayze turns the other cheek one last time on the villainous Brad Wesley, he is nearly killed, but for the intervention of his gun-toting mates.

So basically, it’s best to try and avoid violence if possible, although sometimes you should go mental and kill someone when you have the chance. All clear? Good.

Braveheart (1995)

The Life Lesson: It’s your responsibility to make something of life.

How It’s Taught: It doesn’t take any special skill to exist in this life, but men like William Wallace aren’t happy just to “exist”. “Every man dies,” says Wallace, “not every man really lives.”

And to really live you must stand up for your convictions, no matter how far the odds are stacked against you.

Secondary lesson: the English are a race of raping, thieving, slaughtering bastards.

Starship Troopers (1997)

The Life Lesson: War is kind of stupid.

How It’s Taught: As director Paul Verhoeven points out, “war makes fascists of us all,” and so it proves in Starship Troopers as the good old US of A picks one fight too many and plunges the Earth headfirst into conflict with a race of giant bugs.

Breeding a generation of ultra-violent meatheads is not portrayed as the best way of achieving world (or in this case universal) peace.

Star Trek (2009)

The Life Lesson: Self-confidence beats experience.

How It’s Taught: Despite being a cocky, brash greenhorn, with no discernable qualifications other than a famous father, James Kirk manages to shrug off a disciplinary hearing and become captain of the Enterprise with the absolute minimum of fuss.

The message here kids is that hard-work, experience and common sense come a distant second to being able to talk the talk. See The Apprentice for further details.

Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade (1989)

The Life Lesson: Sometimes it’s necessary to take a leap of faith.

How It’s Taught: Faced with a gaping chasm, falling into which would result in certain death, Indy has to decide whether to turn back or follow in God’s footsteps into the unknown.

Naturally he takes the leap of faith, steps out onto what appears to be thin air, and finds himself able to walk safely across to the other side.

WARNING: this will not be true of all gaping chasms.

Avatar (2009)

The Life Lesson: The end doesn’t always justify the means.

How It’s Taught: Harvesting natural resources to further the lifespan of your species is all well and good, but not when it comes at the cost of another way of life.

In this case, the humans who set about murdering the Na’vi just to get their hands on their minerals, don’t come across terribly well.

Abandon all your moral principles, and you cease to be human. So ended the lesson according to Jim.

Top Gun (1986)

The Life Lesson: Play by your rules, and you may just save the day.

How It’s Taught: Throughout the film, Tom Cruise’s Flash Harry of a fighter pilot has been repeatedly told his style of flying is reckless and aggressive.

Indeed, this aggression causes his good friend Goose to needlessly die, landing him in the dock before the board of enquiry.

So does he change his ways? Hell no, he does the exact same thing again and saves the day. The lesson? Ignore everyone and do what you like. It’ll usually work out.

Gladiator (2000)

The Life Lesson: Power is useless without integrity.

How It’s Taught: Maximus is shown to be a true leader of men, his soldiers worshipping the ground he walks on, on account of his bravery, loyalty and honesty.

Commodus on the other hand, is a treacherous, snivelling shit who cons his way into power and rules with an iron fist.

Unsurprisingly, his guards turn on him at the first opportunity and he ends up with a dagger in the neck, courtesy of nice old Maximus.

George Wales

George was once GamesRadar's resident movie news person, based out of London. He understands that all men must die, but he'd rather not think about it. But now he's working at Stylist Magazine.