The 50 Best Action Movies of All Time

If you really want to be sucked in, you might be best served by a good action movie. After all, daredevil stunts and spectacular action will quickly make you forget about everyday life. Action movies offer a wonderful opportunity to dive off the grid. Here are 50 of the best action movies of all time.

1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

While the first installment was still a low-budget production by Hollywood standards at $6 million, its success paved the way for the $100 million film Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Not for nothing is it one of the best action films of all time: 4 Oscars, groundbreaking special effects combined with an apocalyptic storyline.

Ten years have passed since the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) was sent from the future to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). Now the machines send another terminator. Faster, deadlier, better: The T-1000. Played by Robert Patrick, this machine seems unstoppable and invincible. Its mission: to wipe out John Connor, the future leader of humanity. His seemingly only ally is the reprogrammed T-800. Played again by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

What makes the story special is Sarah Connor’s transformation from a hunted woman to a ruthless protector and action heroine. Linda Hamilton succeeds in becoming a powerful woman who will do anything to save her son. The effects and the makeup barely aged and were groundbreaking for the time. The film was a step forward for computer-generated imagery at the time.

2. The Dark Knight (2008)

Director Christopher Nolan (Inception, Memento, etc.).) brought the Dark Knight into the 21st century with “Batman Begins.”. Century. With the sequel, he surpasses the predecessor and creates a masterpiece. Never was a Batman movie better! Heath Ledger’s Joker is considered to be one of the best villains of all time. The actor was posthumously awarded the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Christian Bale gives Bruce Wayne/Batman an unprecedented depth and complexity. In addition, there is a good plot that challenges the viewer. The individual action sequences tie the story together without ever being irrelevant.

The Batmobile, Batpod, and other gadgets from Batman’s repertoire create the action you don’t see elsewhere. The highlight: a spectacular chase through the streets of Gotham. The battle for Gotham has begun. Batman’s nemesis, the Joker, pushes Gotham’s dark knight to his limits and terrifies the city.

3. Indiana Jones – Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Archaeology professor Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones is on the search for the Ark of the Covenant. The whole thing is set in the 1930s, and the Nazis also noticed this biblical relic. A race against time begins. Can Indiana Jones and his comrades-in-arms outrun the third empire and discover the Ark of the Covenant first?

After Star Wars, Harrison Ford shines here as Indiana Jones. Three sequels followed: “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

But the first part of the series laid the foundation for one of the most successful franchises in film history—a supernatural plot of biblical proportions, a unique hero, and stunts that will open your eyes.

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Despite the supernatural aspects of the film, the action has a hand and foot and remains close to reality. Thrilling duels, groundbreaking car chases, and insane situations give the supernatural plot an anchor in reality.

4. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

In a post-apocalyptic time, there is a merciless struggle for resources. Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) is the merciless head of the Warboys. Emperor Furiosa (Charlize Theron) commits treason and helps Immortan Joe’s enslaved brides to escape. Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) inadvertently gets caught in the middle and helps the women escape.

The stunts in this film are daring and completely crazy. The chases through deserts and wastelands are a gift to action cinema lovers. Cars, trucks, and motorcycles as you would imagine them: from another time.

5. Rambo: First Blood (1982)

While the sequels are bursting with action and muscle, this film tells the story of Vietnam veteran John Rambo. It’s more of a character study and political statement than just an action movie without a story. Sylvester Stallone shines in this masterpiece as a broken war veteran who doesn’t recognize his homeland. He is neither welcome nor feels recognized for what he has done for his country.

In a small town, he is arrested. Policemen humiliate and torture Rambo until a switch is involuntarily flipped in his head. Rambo is at war again. He is alone and escapes into the woods. There he defends himself against dozens of pursuers until it comes to the inevitable escalation.

6. Die Hard (1988)

Here, too, the motto is one against all, and on Christmas Eve of all days. But this one is about an (almost) normal cop: John McClane. Bruce Willis was not the first choice for the role of the New York cop but by far the best one.

He plays the character of John McClane authentically and thus becomes sympathetic to the audience. He actually just happens to be at the Christmas party at Nakatomi Plaza. But one thing no one has reckoned with: Terrorists raid the party.

The simple but ingenious scenario “one against all in a skyscraper” has been copied more than a dozen times, but no other action movie has come close to the original. Explosions, hopeless shootouts, a good villain, and witty dialogues make this a perfect popcorn movie.

7. Heat (1995)

Al Pacino hunts down Robert DeNiro. Need we say more? The thief Neil McCauley (DeNiro) is the leader of a ruthless gang of criminals in Los Angeles. One coup after another, numerous victims and lots of loot. But overworked Lieutenant Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) has vowed to take down the gang. It comes to the merciless cat and mouse game.

Realistic gunfights and car chases make Heat a riveting and gripping action film. In addition, there are complex, complicated characters, and you never know exactly which side you should be on. Pacino and DeNiro are on screen together for only about 12 minutes, but that’s enough to make your blood run cold.

8. The Rock (1996)

Nicolas Cage was at the peak of his career in an action film of the extra class. Sean Connery proves here that he is far from obsolete, even with white hair and beard. The setting: the prison island of Alcatraz. The plot: Brigadier General Francis X. Bumblebee (Ed Harris) steals chemical rockets and takes 81 tourists into his power. He demands 100 million dollars and threatens to fire the missiles on San Francisco.

The chemical weapons specialist Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) and the imprisoned spy Mason (Sean Connery), who was the only one ever able to break out of Alcatraz, are supposed to defuse the situation.

The action director Michael Bay (Bad Boys, Transformers) serves here as a firecracker of a special kind.

9. Ronin (1998)

Robert DeNiro and Jean Reno hunt for a suitcase with mysterious contents. Rarely do you find action movies with better car chases? Whether through the mountains, narrow streets, or in reverse, through the streets of Paris. With each chase, new ways are found to outshine the previous one, whether it’s Robert DeNiro blowing up other cars with a rocket launcher or the insane car chase that climaxes in oncoming traffic.

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A top-notch cast, a thrilling plot, and action won’t let you go.

10. The Matrix (1999)

Revolutionary! There is no other way to describe this film and how it was made. Spectacular slow motion and 360° turns make this film an unforgettable experience. In addition, there is the modern story: long ago, the machines won the war against humanity. Now humans are used for power and are connected to the Matrix, a computer simulation.

A handful of people try to defeat the Matrix. Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburne) frees Neo (Keanu Reeves) from the clutches of the machines and sees him as the chosen one to conquer the Matrix. If you still haven’t had enough, you can also watch the second and third parts.

11. The Bourne Identity (2002)

With this flick, action movies were changed forever. Matt Damon is Jason Bourne. He has lost his memory and is trying to figure out who he is. The closer he gets to the truth, the greater the danger becomes. Marie (Franka Potente) wants to help Bourne, but she too gets caught in the crossfire, and soon the two are on the run across Europe.

Modern duels with hectic camera work and chases through the streets of Paris hardly give you time to catch your breath. Matt Damon is convincing in the role of the contract killer. Three sequels followed. One could argue that “The Bourne Ultimatum” is the better film, but it all started with the first installment of the series. The mystery of Jason Bourne and the unique action set the standards for future action movies.

12. Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)

Here you get everything a film fan’s heart desires: a good story, humor, ingenious dialogues, and action at its best. Quentin Tarantino ventures out of his beloved “Gangster genre” and gives us a love letter to Asian action films with Kill Bill. Uma Thurman plays the bride out for revenge. Their wedding turned into a massacre. All guests are dead! After four years, she wakes up from her coma and makes a list of everyone she wants to get revenge on and will.

Over-the-top samurai sword fights, gallons of blood, and always the right music in Tarantino’s action-packed masterpiece.

13. James Bond: Casino Royale (2006)

Daniel Craig’s first appearance as Agent 007 was a total game changer for the James Bond series and worked out perfectly. Le Chiffre, wonderfully played by Mads Mikkelsen, hosts a poker tournament to win money for terrorist attacks. Having just earned double zero status, James Bond is put undercover at the poker table to prevent worse. While the films of the 60s and 70s almost had a sci-fi character, “Casino Royale” is probably the Bond film with the greatest connection to reality. That’s what makes a good action movie: no futuristic gadgets and no overblown plot.

James Bond has always been a maverick, and it shows all too well in the action scenes. On foot, he can even keep up with a parkour runner, and that is by Bond avoiding one or the other obstacle either in an intelligent or brute way.

So James Bond has arrived here and now, and the result is something to behold. He’s also long past being the perfect hero. This James Bond makes mistakes that almost end in disaster once or twice. This film is also by far the most personal Bond film: the first assignment, the first love, the creation of an icon.

14. The Raid (2011)

The plot is quite simple, the realization a feast for the eyes. An elite unit will take over a high-rise building and arrest the drug lord Tama. But the building raid turns out to be more difficult than expected, and the unit gets into a murderous trap.

The Indonesian independent film was directed by the British director Gareth Evans, who was also responsible for the sequel “The Raid 2”. This is the right movie if you like it as brutal and authentic. Breakneck fights in narrow corridors and that with ingenious camera work. Floor by floor, our heroes fight their way to the top. The level increases and the fights become more merciless each time.

Iko Uwais proves his skills as a martial artist and action hero and makes short work of the drug lord’s henchmen.

15. John Wick (2014)

Keanu Reeves is back and in an Action film of the top class. “Gun-Fu” is the answer to standstill gunfights. John Wick mows down his enemies: 88 kills in 100 minutes. In the underworld, John Wick is considered a legend among hitmen. But now, he tries to live his life in peace. His wife recently passed away and gave him a puppy to take care of. Three Russian gang members just want his Ford Mustang but kill his dog for it.

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John Wick wants revenge and hunts mercilessly for his tormentors. The two sequels are in no way inferior to the original and are must-sees as well.

16. The Return of the First Avenger (2014)

Who would have believed that Captain America could become so cool? The super soldier from another time is on the run. The enemy has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D, and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) now has no longer to figure out who he can trust. The mix of 70s conspiracy thrillers and modern action movies in the Marvel universe shows how versatile comic book adaptations can actually be.

Despite super soldiers, the film is grounded. Merciless gunfights on the street are reminiscent of Heat. Badass chases through the city, and wonderfully choreographed duels set this flick apart from other films in this genre.

17. Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018)

Agent Ethan Hunt and his team are on the hunt for three nuclear warheads. But in their midst is a mole. Who would have thought that the sixth part of the extremely popular action series with Tom Cruise would once again surpass everything that has gone before? Higher, faster, better.

The Mission Impossible franchise thrives on its crazy stunts. Tom Cruise once again rises above and ensures the film reaches new heights. Literally! Because a halo jump will literally leave you breathless. And this is just one of many daredevil stunts Tom Cruise does all by himself. He learned to fly a helicopter, jumped out of a plane 106 times, and then broke his ankle jumping over the rooftops of London.

The stakes were worth it. This film is the answer to green-screen and gimmickry. Because here, everything has been made real, exactly as you see.

18. James Bond: Goldfinger (1964)

Sean Connery’s third appearance as Agent 007 with the license to kill is also the climax of the first Bond era. Cool gadgets and awesome bond girls, first and foremost, of course, Pussy Galore. Plus a good Bond villain, which also gives the film its title: Goldfinger. The latter puts his plan into action to raid Fort Knox. Only one can stop him: James Bond 007. The introduction of the Aston Martin DB5 completes the iconic movie in some ways.

The chase through Goldfinger’s factory and the adjacent forest will still amaze action movie lovers. The Aston Martin DB5 is equipped with modern weapons and technology, which gives the film a futuristic and modern feel, even today.

19. Enter The Dragon (1973)

Bruce Lee’s last and most successful film. Bruce Lee died before the premiere at the age of 32. Enter the Dragon should become his legacy. Only this film brought him posthumous worldwide recognition and fame.
To avenge his sister’s death, martial arts master Lee takes part in a secret tournament. Han, the organizer, is said to be running drug deals and trafficking women. Lee wants to take him and his henchmen down.

Kung-fu has never been better staged, and fights more realistic. Bruce Lee and the entire cast shine at the highest level. The fight in the underground corridors is the highlight of the film. If you look closely, you can spot Jackie Chan as a stuntman here.

20. Legend of the Drunken Master (1994)

The sequel to Drunken Master (aka “They Called Him Bone Crusher”) is arguably one of the best, if not Jackie Chan’s best films. Here, the master of all classes shows what he can do, and you can’t help but be stunned. Incredible stunts and perfectly choreographed fights make the action spectacle complete. In addition, there is humor, which comes mainly from the main character’s style: Drunken Boxing.

So Jackie Chan’s character gets drunk to stand up to his challengers. And not in short supply. The higher the alcohol, the better the fight. The highlight is a seven-minute fight in a steel factory. While filming, Jackie Chan received severe burns. But the result can be seen.

21. John Wick: Chapter 3 (2019)

22. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

23. Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)

24. Deadpool (2016)

25. The Transporter (2002)

26. True Lies (1994)

27. Black Hawk Down (2001)

28. Speed (1994)

29. Batman Begins (2005)

30. Alien (1979)

31. Leon: The Professional (1994)

32. The Avengers (2012)

33. Looper (2012)

34. Predator (1987)

35. The Fifth Element (1997)

36. Inception (2010)

37. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

38. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

39. Jurassic Park (1993)

40. Con Air (1997)

41. Iron Man (2008)

42. Gladiator (2000)

43. Braveheart (1995)

44. Taken (2008)

45. Transformers (2006)

46. Total Recall (1990)

47. Bad Boys (1995)

48. 300 (2007)

49. Independence Day (1996)

50. Top Gun (1986)

As a true cineaste and action movie fan, there is no way around these masterpieces. Good staging of action, breakneck stunts, and the right camera work. It’s all an art in itself and makes for a good action movie.

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