This would perhaps be the toughest challenge for any movie buff. To prepare a list of the best Action movies of all time would be tough even when you reduce the pool to just the films released in a particular year. The genre of Action movies is perhaps the most popular and the most loved by young and old alike with action movie fans cutting across generations.
Action films have always been popular and may get overshadowed by some other passing trend for a limited period of time but it bounces back with a double bang. Mostly because it provides the kind of escapist entertainment that perhaps got us attracted to the world of movies in the first place.
Here we have chosen the best action movies of all time with the requisite judging criteria of car chases, explosions, close combat, vigilante heroes, special effects, and great stories. These are the best action movies that made us fall in love with the genre and instilled new life into it.
“Father to a murdered son. Husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.” These unforgettable lines from Gladiator still send shivers down your spine. Gladiator was a hardcore action film of 2000 with Russel Crowe playing the titular lead. The story revolves round a Roman general Maximus who, upon the death of the current emperor, experiences a major fall from grace and is set to be executed by the successor’s envious son, played by Joaquin Phoenix. Maximus sets out to exact vengeance against the corrupt new emperor who murdered his family and sent him into slavery. The epic historical action movie was directed by Ridley Scott who had previously helmed hits like Alien and the Blade Runner. The film won the Best film award at the Oscars amongst a total of five that year. The success of the film inspired an interest in the Roman history and was responsible for many other movies placed in that era.
Black Panther (2018)
The 2018 movie was a revolutionary film made amongst the deluge of superhero movies being churned out by all the major Hollywood studios. The movie was significant because it highlighted the complicated theme about race and identity. The film packed excitement, social intention and cinematic excellence and was perhaps one of Marvel’s richest stories to date. This was perhaps the first time that a big budget film had an African-American director and a majority black cast.Black Panther is a tale of T’Challa, heir to the hidden but advanced kingdom of Wakanda, who must step forward to lead his people into a new future and must confront a challenger from his country’s past. Black Panther is a superhero flick unlike any other action film you would have seen directed by Ryan Coogler. The film will captivate you in a way that even the most action-packed superhero flicks to date never could. The movie is an absolute gem and one of the top action movies from the recent times.
Die Hard (1988)
Action movies some time have to live the reputation of being loud, coarse, artless films that do not require much gray matter from the audience. However, a movie like Die Hard proved that there are some action films that rise above the infamy and break boundaries to achieve something special. Sometimes even mistaken for a Christmas movie, Die Hard sets the bar high within the action genre with some high octane sequences. In some way the film set a new standard for what an authentic action film should be like. The film is a perfect mix of story and talent brought together by director John McTiernan. The story of the film centers around an NYPD officer that tries to save his wife and several others that are taken hostage by German terrorists during a Christmas in Los Angeles. The in the face title – Die Hard, coupledwitha protagonist like Bruce Willis, this film had action written all over it, even before you begin watching it. Die Hard is not only an excellent action film but also one of the best action movies ever made.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
James Cameron’s update of his action classic and the sequel to the 1984 Terminator was much more an action movie than its predecessor. The consequent of that being that the sequel of 1991 outperforming the original by miles. The combination of Arnold and a buffed up Linda Hamilton made this movie into an extravaganza full of effects and action. When the movie came out, many in the audiences then had not experienced watching an action packed movie like this before. In Judgement Day, the cyborg, identical to the one who failed to kill Sarah Connor, returns and must now protect her ten-year-old son John from a more advanced and powerful cyborg. The teaming up of Cameron and Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2exceeded the expectations with its well-crafted story and special effects. The film is perhaps one of the most successful sequels ever to be made and set the standard for future CGI driven mega productions.
Bourne Identity (2002)
It is one of the most successful action thriller franchise in the catalog of Universal Pictures which includes five theatrical films. The films are based on and follow the action adventures of Jason Bourne, a character created by Robert Ludlum. The first of the Bourne films was The Bourne Identity which introduced movie-goers to a new type of action hero and a new style of action. The film was released in 2002 and changed the way action films were made using naturalistic action sequences and hand-held camera fight scenes. It follows Bourne – a man who is picked up by a fishing boat, bullet-riddled and suffering from amnesia, before racing to elude assassins and attempting to regain his memory. The impact of the film and its sequels were immense and the style was even adapted by the Bond films of the new century. The Bourne Identity is a violent and thrilling interpretation of Robert Ludlum’s bestselling novel. A film, that established Matt Damon as an action movie star in a movie that has stunning visuals and some great acting.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
The list of the best action movies cannot be complete without a war movie in the mix. There are numerous war films made in the history of Hollywood that has turned out to be classics. From ‘Patton’ to ‘Platoon’ and from ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’ to ‘Born on the 4th of July’, all of whom have received rave reviews and recognition. However, Saving Private Ryan is probably Steven Spielberg’s best film ever. The film is about Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) and his squad who are ordered to travel deep into enemy territory with the mission to rescue Private James Ryan (Matt Damon) as all of his other brothers were killed in the war. Tom Hanks is phenomenal in the film which captures one of the most realistic depictions of war, on film. With its riveting combat drama played out against a D-Day backdrop, Saving Private Ryan is a masterpiece of World War II action. The 1998 film is a genuine, action packed and graphic testament of the horrors of war and a must watch for all action movie fans.
Avengers Endgame (2019)
In the top most action movies of all time, how do you not include one of the highest-grossing action films and a Superhero action film at that? Not just any action movie but a movie featuring some of the world’s most recognizable actors which include Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Josh Brolin. The run time of almost three hours does not take away from the exhilarating, visually spectacular and fast paced progression of the movie. It is part of the highest-grossing film franchise of all times that began in 2008 with Ironman and culminated with Avengers: Endgame in 2019. The conclusion to an epic storyline propped on the shoulders of a group of superheroes who come together after the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018) with the universe in ruins and with the help of the remaining allies, the Avengers band together one more time restores balance to the universe.Avengers Endgame is the action movie that is an absolute spectacle and a masterpiece.
The film that no one saw coming. The sleeper hit from the spring of 2007. Warner Bros’ 300 is a highly stylized story of the legend of Leonidus and his 300 soldiers, which was brought to life by director Zack Snyder. The film exudes the strong emotion of non-submission and the determination to fight until the last breath. The film is based on a historically-inspired comic book series later to become the novel by Frank Miller. It is the retelling of the tale about king Leonidas of Sparta who with a force of just 300 men, fights the massive Persian army at Thermopylae in 480 B.C. The film is a movie about war and projects death in battle as heroic. Frank Miller’s writing is gory and epic, and is brought to life on screen perfectly by Zack Snyder in this film. As the Spartans battle the Persians, Gerard Butler with his performance stamped his position in Hollywood as a serious actor. 300 is arguably one of the best action movies that again brought a new style of filmmaking to the genre. It is a wonderful piece of action cinema that has great performances, excellent direction, and fantastic battle scenes. All said and done it is a movie for the guys.
A list of the best action movie will be poorer if it did not include a Bond film. To pick the best amongst twenty seven productions right from ‘Dr. No’ to ‘No Time to Die’, would be somewhat impossible. However, we chose the one that is considered the most sophisticated of all Bond films – ‘Skyfall’. The 2012 film was truly the film that is credited with bringing the character and the series into the modern age. Shrugging off the age old characteristics of the Bond one-liners, sexual innuendos, and shaken martini’s. Skyfall attempts to explore deeper and is a more sophisticated and restrained version of its predecessors. Skyfall is the first Bond film that does not share a title with an Ian Fleming novel. The film was expertly shot by Roger Deakins — who has in the past been the cinematographer of Oscar winning films like No Country for Old Men and A Beautiful Mind. Skyfall is one of those movie movies that manage to impress you with its fast paced action, probably used for the first time in a Bond film. Skyfall, firmly establishes Daniel Craig as one of the best Bonds ever. The film is more serious, less gimmicky and geared towards mature adults. The action is beautifully interspersed with engaging thrills, suspense and drama.
Mission Impossible (1996)
The first installment in the popular franchise set the tone for what would be a consistently exciting series with filming currently on for Mission Impossible: 7. Starring Tom Cruise, Mission Impossible was a major blockbuster when it came out. The story is about an American agent, who under false suspicion of disloyalty, must discover and expose the real spy without the help of his organization. There are some mind-numbing action sequences that really make it worth a look back at this film. The high octane scenes like when Agent Hunt dangles from the ceiling in eerie silence and then plunges to within inches of the floor or when he is atop a train traveling at such breakneck speed are some that made this film an un-missable action movie of all time.
In the above list, we have packed in an unhealthy amount of adrenaline shots, from Bond to Hunt and war heroes to Superheroes. Just sit back and get your juice pumping and your heart thumping with the best action movies of all time.
From ‘Terminator’ to ‘Black Panther,’ these old and new classics will get your heart rate up with a direct shot of adrenaline. The above mentioned list of films, include tons of action and at the same time provide incredible narrative which should be hallmark of the good action movie.
In the current times the success of a film and that of an action film is dependent on the inclusion of many capes, dinosaurs, fast cars, and superhero powers. If you have these in the film – it sure is a recipe for mega success.
Car chases, jumping out of planes, gun fights, explosions and plane old mano-o-mano combat is what makes up an action film. It is a film genre in which there is a series of events that typically include violence, extended fighting, physical feats, rescues and frantic chases.
The action does not have to be from any sub genre like Western or sci-fi extravaganza. But would you really stick your neck out and try and pick the best of the best from the thousands of action films with hundred of action heroes? How do you choose? Should the selection be based on the stunts, the visual effects, the action hero or box office success? The best actions films perhaps would be that check all the boxes and have a gripping storyline.
A great action movie should have characters that are realistic and believable. The action movie should have a good mix of drama with elements of comedy and of course action as well. In the current times, there should be ample and awesome action sequences with a generous sprinkling of CGI.