Car chases, gun battles, and massive explosions are some of the hallmarks of a best action movies. They aren’t really known for having the best plot or the best dialogue but they remain popular because of their highly entertaining nature.
Hey, watching things blow up can be cathartic sometimes, you know? Besides, some action films break out of the mold to give its viewers interesting characters to root for.
Here are the top 10 best action movies of all time.
10 Best Action Movies of All Time
This film is perhaps best known for Liam Neeson’s iconic line immortalized in memes: “I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill you”.
Liam Neeson plays protagonist Bryan Mills, a father on the hunt to retrieve his daughter from anonymous kidnappers. To make up for the occasionally strained dialogue, the movie is jam-packed with high-octane action that doesn’t slow down until the film ends–the perfect film to watch while hanging out with a group of friends.
Casino Royale (2006)
Casino Royale (2006) is one of the best action films to have come out of the James Bond franchise.
Starring Daniel Craig as a brand new Bond (at the time), Casino Royale rebooted the franchise and set a high bar for the next ones to meet.
The film chronicles the beginnings of Agent 007’s career and sees him on assignment to bankrupt a known terrorist financier through a game of high-stakes poker. We also get to see him cozy up with the sultry Vesper Lynd, played exquisitely by Eva Green. The film’s story continues in its sequel, Quantum of Solace.
Bad Boys II (2003)
In Bad Boys II (2003) we see Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as a pair of cops whose goal is to track a Cuban drug smuggler in Miami, Florida.
The film identifies itself with the subgenre of buddy-cop action drama films and draws heavily on films like Tango and Cash and the Lethal Weapon franchise. But what makes Bad Boys II special is that managed to do it better than its inspirations.
With a big budget of $130 million, the film entertains avid action movie viewers with what they came for: exotic cars, destruction, and mayhem.
The Bourne Identity (2002)
The Bourne Identity stars Matt Damon in what probably is his most memorable and famous role as Jason Bourne.
It’s got everything a good action movie should have: from the main character with a great backstory, the involvement of powerful secret organizations and well-choreographed fight scenes.
Who would ever forget that fight scene between a pen and knife? Or that awesome scene where we discover Bourne’s amazing skills as he used them on some policemen at the park?
The film, part neo-noir, and part thriller endures because it delivered an action-packed but still believable story.
Enter the Dragon (1973)
Of course, any action movie list won’t be complete without mentioning the work of one of the world’s most renowned martial artist turned movie star, the late Bruce Lee.
Enter the Dragon (1973), a film that elevated hand-to-hand combat fight scenes and kung fu to a new level is one of his best works. Lee may not have been the best actor but his great showmanship as a martial artist fills every battle scene with intrigue and personality.
And a little trivia: a young Jackie Chan made a cameo in the film– a foreshadowing of his future in cinema and martial arts perhaps?
Point Break (1991)
It’s not every day that we see an action film directed by a woman. But famed action-thriller director Kathryn Bigelow is all about breaking that stereotype.
One of her most successful films is Point Break (1991). This action movie classic seemed to give its audience a lesson on or at least an inside look at surfing the break in style, skydiving without a parachute and getting away with daring bank heists.
Although the film went into the unrealistic category, the amazingly believable performance of its main actors kept it grounded in reality.
Running for almost three hours, Heat (1995) makes good of this long run time with bank robberies, a star-studded cast, car chases, and gunfights.
The film features a powerhouse cast of veteran actors like Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro and action movie staples like Val Kilmer and Tom Sizemore. This mixture of actors summarizes the kind of film it is–best action movie with some serious commentary on romantic, familial and professional relationships. It also boasts of a beautiful cinematic look and a well-executed soundtrack. No wonder it’s still revered by action movie buffs today as one of the genre’s greatest products.
Die Hard (1988)
Whether Die Hard (1988) is indeed a Christmas film or not, we can all agree that it’s an excellent action film with lots of memorable moments and scenes.
Bruce Willis plays John McClane an off-duty New York police officer stuck at a Los Angeles skyscraper as Alan Rickman’s character leads a Christmas Eve heist on it. The film would begin Willis’ career as a nitty-gritty and sardonic action hero in the following decade. And later on, Die Hard would also become one of the most liked films of all time which is not a feat many action movies can boast of being.
The Departed (2006)
The Departed (2006) may be a remake of a Hong Kong film but its director Martin Scorsese has managed to create an excellent film on its own merits.
Starring big names like Jack Nicholson, Alec Baldwin, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Matt Sheen, the film weaves a complex plot ending in a twist you would have never seen coming. (Well, it’s a Scorsese film after all). At its core, the film is sort of a neo-noir story about betrayal and loyalty told in edgy violence.
The Departed also holds the honor of having won four Oscars (yes) for best acting, directing, writing and editing.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Steven Spielberg and George Lucas team up to write and direct Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), the first and finest installment of the Indiana Jones movie franchise.
The world is introduced to archeologist Indiana Jones, played by the dashing Harrison Ford in this grand adventure filled with conspiracy, whips, swords, and airplanes.
The film is considered the very epitome of what a good action movie should be. Its cinematic homages paved the way for the action genre to innovate and move forward. It’s no surprise that this classic made it to the top to be the best action movie of all time.
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What films do you think should have made our best action movies list? Which is your favorite action movies? Tell us in the comments below!