Best Action Films Of All Time
Her are our picks for the top ten action films of all time!
20. The Rock
A fun, funny, and frantic action flick, The Rock represents Michael Bay's best work behind the camera. It's also some of the best acting Nicholas Cage has ever delivered as a freaked out bomb defuser who's working for the first time in the field. He's wonderfully supported by the brilliant Sean Connery playing a former Alcatraz inmate and Cold War-era master spy. Ed Harris is crazed, yet likable, as the villain here and he delivers some really intense lines and does a good job of making you believe him. There's plenty of excellent dialogue, memorable characters, and kinetic action sequences. More importantly, you connect with the characters and each of them have an arc. It's a blast from start to finish.
19. Enter the Dragon
One of the greatest screen presences in cinematic history is Bruce Lee and with his unhinged performance in Enter the Dragon he shows off his best acting and skill as a martial artist. It's a fun and zany story featuring a James Bond-esque plot and some of the best fight scenes ever filmed. It's a brutal testament to the power of Lee and his speed and agility are on full display here. This movie is so much fun to watch for all of it's 70s style and energy. There is no other movie like it and there never will be.
18. Lethal Weapon
The best buddy cop film ever made, Lethal Weapon is expertly written by Shane Black and features a heartfelt story, superb characters, and exciting action. Here we have Mel Gibson and Danny Glover playing two roles they were born to play in Riggs and Murtaugh, two beat cops from opposite ends of the spectrum who must find a way to work together to stop a criminal mastermind. There's so much great character stuff in this one but also some intense fist fights, car and foot chases, and gun battles. It's a fun and surprisingly emotional film.
17. The Adventures of Robin Hood
A classic of the genre, The Adventures of Robin Hood stars film legend Errol Flynn as the outlaw hero who fights the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham and Prince John for the poor townsfolk of England. This movie takes audiences on such an enjoyable journey that it's hard to wipe the smile off your face the entire time you watch it. There are swordfights a plenty and Robin shows off his skill with a bow and arrow too. Memorable characters and an unforgettable story make this one for the ages.
16. The Raid 2
Superior sequels are difficult to make but with a bigger budget and deeper story, the cast and crew of The Raid pulled it off with this action-heavy masterpiece. While the first film is a non-stop action extravaganza this one features our hero on a journey of vengeance through the seedy underbelly of Indonesia into the dangerous criminal underworld. It's got better and more memorable characters, a more complex story, and even better fight scenes if that's even possible. Here's how you make a solid sequel to a good movie making a film series greater than it was before. Enjoy this if you want intense action.
Veteran actor Liam Neeson experienced a career revival after this French film made him an action star. Taken brings a realism to producer Luc Besson's style that makes this the ultimate revenge thriller. It's got a great script and excellent performances. Neeson's character Bryan Mills is an intelligent and driven agent of precision who's going after the men who kidnapped his daughter. This one kicked off a series which never was able to recapture the awesomeness of the original which remains some of Neeson's best work onscreen.
A great sequel if there ever was one, Aliens manages to retain everything that Ridley Scott did in his original work of horror, but turns it into an all-out action movie. Sigourney Weaver really becomes the action hero we all know Ripley is in this film, but she still manages to keep the character's maternal instincts among the chaos. It's got a great supporting cast including Michael Beihn as the no-nonsense military leader, Bill Paxton as a spazzed-out gung-ho soldier, Lance Henrikson as the cool and kind android, Paul Reiser as a slimy company man, and Carrie Henn as the young survivor of a brutal alien attack. This is a fun movie to watch, with it's hilarious lines of dialogue, wild action scenes, and palpable tension.
13. Baby Driver
Baby Driver is such a fun movie. It blends action, drama, romance, comedy, and music into a cohesive film experience unlike any other. The soundtrack drives this movie as our hero Baby, played wonderfully by Ansel Elgort, keeps headphones in at all times to drown out his tinnitus as he acts as the best getaway driver in the criminal underworld. The iPod is a great storytelling device as each song has meaning in the story and every action is choreographed to the beat of the music. This movie is put together by genius writer/director Edgar Wright and his carefully selected, superb cast. Pop it in, turn it up, and enjoy the ride.
12. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Marvel movies typically take a genre and combine it with a superhero plot, but the Russo brother took Captain America and dropped him in a political action thriller in his second solo outing. The result is one of the best superhero films of all time as we see Cap in the present day dealing with real-world issues. It's a movie with a message and one that ratchets up the tension all the way to the very end. There are incredible action sequences in this movie, all of which are made more interesting by the hero's super-human abilities. The cast does a great job including Scarlett Johnasson, who does her best work of the series this time, Samuel L. Jackson and Nick Fury, and Robert Redford as the diabolical villain. The betrayals, deception, and twists make this one a welcome change for the character.
11. The Road Warrior
One of the best sequels ever made, The Road Warrior took the Mad Max series to a new level with it's incredible car chases, odd characters, and mythic storyline. Mel Gibson plays Max as a cold-hearted man of few words who comes out of nowhere to help a small town of survivors in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The action is frantic and brutal which was unlike anything seen before. George Miller created a fully fleshed-out world with this film and took his anti-hero to new places giving him more depth and layers.
10. The Matrix
A revelation to movie goers, The Matrix changed the game with it's unique look, stunning action scenes, and original storyline. Keanu Reeves gives the performance of a lifetime as Neo, a hacker who's sucked into a world of intrigue and unbelievable adventure. The use of technology is only there to serve the story which is brilliant. The cast is so good they bring you into this strange world and keep you wanting more. It's a testament to the Wachowski's creative minds that they were able to come up with something so different, yet so welcoming and familiar. There's a lot to unpack here as far as themes go and it's one that'll keep you thinking long after it's over.
9. Mission: Impossible III
The third Mission: Impossible movie is the one that gave the series it's signature tone and more importantly it's heart. These films are now built around Ethan Hunt and the team he works with thanks to J.J. Abrams' excellent threequel. The first film deconstructed the team dynamics and the second movie just failed at it, but this one succeeds thanks to a great cast and focused plot. This entry is the best of the series as we finally get to connect with Hunt as a real character because we see his personal life and the plot revolves around his trainee being captured by the franchise's best villain portrayed by the genius Phillip Seymour Hoffman. This one's both fun and emotional.
8. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Another example of brilliant sequels which take the series to another level, Terminator 2: Judgement Day does just that in every aspect of it's filmmaking. The writing is great, the action is epic, and the acting is superb. This one also made leaps forward in visual effects, but the important thing is that the characters are ones you care about thanks to this cast is wonderful cast with Arnold Schwarzenegger playing his best role ever as a killer robot who learns human emotion, Linda Hamilton as a deranged mother willing to do anything to protect her son, and Edward Furlong is amazing as the young savior of humanity who only wants the love of his mother and a father figure to look up to. This movie represents the best of the franchise.
7. First Blood
The original movie starring Stallone's iconic action hero, First Blood is a harrowing tale of survival and a powerful commentary on the effects of war. It's got Stallone delivering some of his best acting as the oppressed hero of the story. There's pathos in every moment and line of dialogue he delivers. This is an important movie and one that's a blast to watch. The action in it is realistic and gritty which lends itself to the impactful story.
6. True Lies
James Cameron flipped the genre on it's head with this dramatic and comedic take the cliche spy story of a family man who secretly works as a government agent. Arnold Schwarzenegger shows some real acting range here in the lead role, but the highlight is Jamie Lee Curtis who is excellent as his adventure-craving wife. It's got incredible sequences of action most of which were shot practically. The way Cameron crafts this film is amazing as it perfectly rides the line between serious action movie and comedic parody. The characters are instantly lovable and the story is totally enjoyable.
5. Mad Max: Fury Road
The fact that George Miller was able to bring back an old franchise and make it better is a testament to what a visionary he truly is. Mad Max: Fury Road is stunning visually as the production team creates an entrancing color palette and the music brings tension and emotion to every moment. The action is breathtaking and it never lets off the gas since the entire film is essentially one big car chase. Charlize Theron plays Furiosa with a weariness and determination that puts her up there with Sarah Conner and Ellen Ripley as one of the best female action stars of all time. Highly underrated is Tom Hardy in an understated but excellent performance as a crazed Max who has an important character arc here. Hugh Keays-Byrne is also glorious as the disgustingly sickly, yet creepy and powerful Immortan Joe. This is an artful and important film from a director at the top of his game.
4. Casino Royale
Rebooting the James Bond franchise was a difficult task but director Martin Campbell pulled it off with Daniel Craig playing a younger, rougher 007 who's just earned his license to kill. It's a surprisingly emotional story with a more grounded approach to the increasingly campy series. Craig leads the movie with a unique poise and charisma, Eva Green is stunning as Vesper Lynd who humanizes Bond, and Mads Mikelsen is a sinister and scary villain. Here we have exhibit A for rebooting a popular franchise and an overall great action movie storyline.
3. The Bourne Supremacy
While Doug Liman did a great job of introducing the world to amnesiac super spy Jason Bourne, Paul Greengrass really took this series to new heights in this follow-up. Featuring a more emotional and personal story, Matt Damon does his best acting work of the series here and it delivers the greatest action sequences too. From the car chase to the fist fights and everything in between, this movie has excellent pacing and some incredible editing and camerawork. It represents the best of the modern action films.
2. Die Hard
John Maclane is one of the best action heroes of all time. He's a regular guy who gets stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time and makes the best of it. Bruce WIllis' poor New York cop is barefoot most of the movie and somehow is still able to take on a group of highly trained terrorists taking over a skyscraper in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve. However, this movie is more about him reuniting with his estranged wife Holly than anything else which is why it works so well. There are tons of great one-liners and funny bits that just make it all the more real instead of taking away from the drama and tension. It's a fantastic screenplay and features terrific performances from Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman who plays Hans Gruber to perfection making him one of the best villains in cinematic history.
1. Raiders of the Lost Ark
The best action film is Raiders of the Lost Ark. This is the best work of director Steven Spielberg, actor Harrison Ford, and writer Lawrence Kasdan's illustrious careers. It's a thrill-a-minute adventure from start to finish with more of fights, chases, and shootouts than you can crack a whip at. It's got some of the best characters ever conceived, hilarious moments and dialogue, as well as many exhilarating stunts. The pacing is incredibly fast and the music is iconic as it's one of the best scores the great John WiIliams has ever composed. The storyline keeps you enthralled, the characters keep you engaged, and the action keeps you on the edge of your seat. Here we have not just one of the best action films, but one of the best films ever made.