In a discussion elsewhere on the interwebbytubes, the subject of in media res openings came up.
An in media res opening is one where a story starts with a bang, a climactic action sequence -- then cuts away to a slow build-up to how the protagonists got to that point. It's a variant on the hook line, whereby the author sets out to snag the reader's attention right from the get-go (e.g. "It was the day my grandmother exploded." -- Iain Banks, "The Crow Road") but with a whole scene, rather than just a striking opening sentence or paragraph.
One or two commenters (in the discussion elsewhere) objected that IMR openings feel manipulative and increasingly fall flat; the event may be explosive (car chase! space battle!) but we've been given no contextual information about the stakes, no character to identify with, and it's clear that what follows is gradually going to focus down until it converges with the opening, thus undercutting any suspense until we get to see how it plays out at the end of the story.
But I don't think this is inevitable.
Back in the 1950s, cinematic folks were very cautious about how racy the scenes they depicted on screen were allowed to be: even a kiss lasting ten seconds was liable to cause a film to fall foul of the censor. But it is said that a journalist once asked Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense, "sir, how long can you hold a screen kiss for?"
Hitchcock mused for a few seconds then said, "mmm, about half an hour. But first, I plant a time bomb under the lovers' sofa!"
My takeaway is that suspense is the key. You can make the most mundane scene gripping if you just provide a context that supplies suspense, by embedding the scene in a high-stakes frame.
For example, take two men playing chess.
The players are: a prisoner, who is a very talented player, and the prison commandant, who is an even better player. That's all.
The frame that supplies the tension is that they're in a Nazi concentration camp in 1944 and for every piece that is taken, a prisoner will either be hanged or spared by the commandant at tomorrow's morning roll-call. And the highest stake of all is that if the prisoner loses, he'll hang alongside his "pieces" ... and if he wins, the commandant will sneak him out of the camp.
(Or so the commandant promises.)
This is the in media res opening, of course: a flashback from the present, circa 1960-1970, where two somewhat older men are playing chess in a public park in New York. Only this time, the roles are reversed: the former camp commandant is a fugitive from justice, while the prisoner is working for an unspecified intelligence agency who require the former war criminal to perform some sort of service for them that requires the cooperation of former Nazis with access to an unspecified middle eastern state's nuclear weapons program.
The game continues, alternating between wartime horror and cold war suspense, as we try to work out in which game the stakes are highest.
NO MORE FILM/TV SHOWS.
IMR is a standard trope in visual media; using it is fundamentally uninteresting, and anyway, I don't do film/TV. If you insist on commenting just to mention another movie I'll start deleting comments. (Updated after about 10 film/TV names came up in a row.)