If there’s one thing the Star Wars galaxy is not short of, it’s adrenaline. Way back in 1977, the film that launched the saga began the grand tradition of hurling us through the stars at breakneck speeds when we found ourselves dropped into the middle of a space pursuit. Between the tales of hope and redemption, loss and renewal — with the fate of the galaxy often at stake — the Star Wars galaxy is packed with classic action-adventure stories that dazzle the senses and get the pulse racing.
Today we take a look at ten great action sequences from across the Star Wars films, taking us on a journey from Coruscant to Vandor, Tatooine to Endor, and everywhere in between.
1. Kenobi chasing Zam Wesell in Attack of the Clones.
Imagine finding yourself hanging high above Coruscant, your fingertips barely clinging to a spy droid as it tries its best to throw you off after its part in an assassination attempt on the young senator Padmé Amidala. That’s exactly where Obi-Wan Kenobi found himself after leaping through a window to grab the droid in the opening of Attack of the Clones. Dodging and weaving through the oncoming Coruscant traffic, Kenobi clung on for dear life hoping the droid would lead him to its owner. The owner had other ideas, as bounty hunter Zam Wesell blasted the droid from Kenobi’s grasp, leaving the Jedi Knight to fall until he was scooped up by Anakin Skywalker in a borrowed speeder. It was a thrilling reintroduction to the prequel galaxy a decade after the events of The Phantom Menace and highlighted the peril and mystery that awaited us.
2. The asteroid field in The Empire Strikes Back.
If the piloting skills of Han Solo were ever in any doubt, the escape of the Millennium Falcon from Echo Base would put those doubts to rest. After surviving the Battle of Hoth, making their circuitous way to the main hangar and blasting off before Darth Vader could apprehend them, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3PO found themselves in another mess as an asteroid thumped the Falcon‘s hull. In his usual reckless way, Han defied the odds, spinning the freighter into the asteroid field and evading the pursuing TIEs before unknowingly nestling his ship inside a space slug. Coupled with John Williams’s soaring score, this is among the most exhilarating sequences in all of Star Wars.
3. The train heist in Solo: A Star Wars Story. (Spoilers follow!)
Tasked by Crimson Dawn to steal a shipment of coaxium, Han Solo and Chewbacca joined Tobias Beckett, Val, and their friend and pilot Rio to take on an audacious heist. The plan: lift an entire carriage from a conveyex cargo transport using a stolen Imperial AT-hauler. The mission cost the lives of two members of the crew and ultimately ended in failure as Han ditched the carriage in a battle with Enfys Nest and the Cloud Riders.
4. The Boonta Eve Podrace in The Phantom Menace.
The fate of the galaxy can change in an instant, and it was certainly altered as soon as young Anakin Skywalker entered the Boonta Eve Podrace under the watchful eye of Qui-Gon Jinn. George Lucas’s love for speed has never been transferred so viscerally to the screen: the throb of the engines, the heat shimmer of the vents, the grime and grease of pit life, the roar of the crowd at the finish line. As much as any other scene in the film, Anakin’s victory steered him toward a path only he could follow.
5. The chase through the Jakku junkyard in The Force Awakens.
Dismissed as a piece of junk and left abandoned in the deserts of Jakku, the return of the Millennium Falcon heralded the return of Star Wars as the ol’ bucket of bolts blasted off with Rey at the helm. What followed, as Rey and Finn found their feet controlling the freighter, was a dizzying display of Rey’s skills as the empty husks of abandoned Star Destroyers, left after the Battle of Jakku years before, became the backdrop for a thrilling sequence.
6. The speeder bike chase in Return of the Jedi.
Return of the Jedi was not only the conclusion to the original trilogy but also the magnum opus in optical special effects with the speeder bike chase. As the rebel team was separated, Luke and Leia leapt onto a pair of speeder bikes to chase down Imperial troopers, blasting through the forests of Endor in a scene that had kids of the day pushing back into their seats as branches rushed by.
7. Kenobi hunts down General Grievous in Revenge of the Sith.
In Revenge of the Sith, the epic conclusion of the prequel trilogy, General Kenobi once again confronted General Grievous, this time on the Outer Rim world of Utapau. The extended chase scene through the streets of the city gave the sequence a kinetic energy that evoked the mine car chase from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom with dodges, weaves, and a dizzying drop for before the confrontation ended with Kenobi using an uncivilized blaster to dispatch the cyborg general.
8. Escape from Jedha in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
We’ve known the terrible destructive power of the Death Star since the first galaxy-shaking example of its capabilities and the annihilation of the peaceful world of Alderaan. In Rogue One, the battle station used a single reactor ignition to destroy the holy city of Jedha. The clock ticked down as the explosion churned up the ground, kicking up blast waves of dust as the ground beneath them boiled away, and the peril of the situation facing our heroes is starkly displayed as the ancient site is turned to rubble. The destruction of Alderaan was devastating, but seeing the power of the Death Star at such close range was chilling.
9. The swing across the chasm in A New Hope.
Our first foray into the Star Wars galaxy is still the benchmark for so many action and adventure movies. Evading stormtroopers on the Death Star, Han, Chewie, Luke, Leia, and the droids had no idea that they were being steered back to the Falcon so they could blast off and lead the Empire to the hidden rebel base. We didn’t know that either, and so the thrilling chase through the corridors of the battle station were fraught with danger. In one of the most thrilling moments, Luke and Leia swung across a chasm when they hit a dead end. With a peck on the cheek for luck the music swelled as we watched the pair make their escape. For charm, sweetness, and pure ’70s escapism, this simply can’t be beat.
10. The Falcon flies through Crait in The Last Jedi.
The Last Jedi comes to a head as Kylo Ren and the forces of the First Order have the remnants of the Resistance cornered on the mineral world of Crait. Boiling with rage, Ren was about to crack the doors of the abandoned rebel base when — impossibly — the last Jedi, Luke Skywalker, appeared and the Battle of Crait erupted. But perhaps our favorite moment was the reappearance of Millennium Falcon, swooping deep into the crystal depths of Crait, and slamming left and right to evade TIE fighters — wonderfully reminiscent of the Falcon navigating the insides of the Death Star in Return of the Jedi. For fans of the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy, it’s a must.
Mark writes for Star Wars Insider, the Official Star Trek Magazine, Starburst magazine, and is the editor-in-chief of Fantha Tracks. He’s an honorary member of the 501st and Rebel Legion and when he’s not talking, tweeting, or writing about Star Wars, he can usually be found sleeping, where he’ll most likely be dreaming about Star Wars.