Action films usually involve a fairly straightforward story of good guys versus bad guys, where most disputes are resolved by using physical force. Who exactly the good guys are differs from film to film, but usually they are patriotic and rather conservative Americans, whereas the bad guys are usually either criminals or agents of foreign powers. In the 1980s and before, they were very often communists, which brings some action films fairly close to propaganda films.
Action films also constitute very good examples for feminist film theory, because in them, the separation between the physical male who controls the scene and the look and the female, who is almost always the object of the look is very clear. Female characters in most action films are nothing more than objects, a prize for the winner, hostages, loving wives and the like.