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The 10 Best Action Movies of All Time

If you’re in need of a knock-your-socks-off action flick, look no further. Spanning almost 30 years, these action films are the kind you can watch over and over again and not get tired of. Sometimes you want to watch a movie to just shut your brain off for two hours — but these are not those movies. While they all contain some of the greatest fighting scenes, car chases, one-liners, and characters, these movies are also there to make you think. This is why they are the best of the best.

Hopefully, you’re able to watch these movies in a home theater or with some awesome headphones. If not, no worries because your socks will still be knocked off by the end of the movie. Sit back, relax, and get ready for some non-stop action.

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Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

A barren desert is crowded with apocalyptic war vehicles in Mad Max: Fury Road.
A barren desert is crowded with apocalyptic war vehicles in Mad Max: Fury Road.

Exploding with action throughout and a killer cast to boot, Mad Max: Fury Road is a George Miller adaptation that surprised audiences in a lot of ways. Boasting a killer cast, this movie takes the universe of the Mad Max franchise and delves into multiple other viewpoints, leaving Max to be almost voiceless and hardly the main character of the story. None of this takes away from the astounding visual effects or overall badassery, which will please anyone looking for an edge-of-your-seat action flick.

Director: George Miller
Main Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult
Runtime: 120 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.1

Buy/Rent on Amazon

Die Hard (1988)

A henchman is held at gunpoint by John McClane (Willis) in Die Hard.
A henchman is held at gunpoint by John McClane (Willis) in Die Hard.

“Yippee-Ki-Yay, mother*******.”How could this not be on the list? One of the most quotable and classic action flicks ever is Die Hard: a movie with fantastic villains, Bruce Willis in his prime, and the only movie on this list to ever be considered a Christmas movie. No, it’s not technically a Christmas movie but it takes place during a corporate Christmas party at Nakatomi Plaza.

Director: John McTiernan
Main Cast: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia
Runtime: 132 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.2

Buy/Rent on Amazon

John Wick (2014)

John Wick (Reeves) holds a new puppy up to his face in John Wick.
John Wick (Reeves) holds a new puppy up to his face in John Wick.

With stupendous, outrageous, and endlessly impressive stunt work, John Wick is the epic comeback of Keanu Reeves on the action movie scene. With every stunt performed by Reeves himself, that alone makes this movie one incredible experience. Not to mention the pretty badass plot because who wouldn’t go on a murderous rampage after losing their furry best friend?

Director: Chad Stahelski
Main Cast: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen
Runtime: 101 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.4

Buy/Rent on Amazon

Read More: Best Keanu Reeves Movies, Ranked

Aliens (1986)

Ripley (Weaver) walks through flames from her flamethrower in Aliens.
Ripley (Weaver) walks through flames from her flamethrower in Aliens.

Easily one of the best James Cameron movies ever, Aliens is the seamless sequel to the original Ridley Scott thriller Alien that introduced this creepy and immersive universe. Starring possibly the coolest female action lead of all time, Sigourney Weaver, this continuation takes the action level from 2 to 11. Featuring Cameron favorites like Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, and Lance Henriksen, the action versus comedy versus horror is perfectly balanced.

Director: James Cameron
Main Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn
Runtime: 137 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.3

Watch on Amazon Prime

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Indiana Jones (Ford) looks nervously at a totem on a pedestal in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Indiana Jones (Ford) looks nervously at a totem on a pedestal in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Quite possibly the best Steven Spielberg movie of all time, Raiders of the Lost Ark is the beginning of the timeless trilogy that brought the whip-toting crusader to our screens. Rugged, scarred, and nearly fearless is everything an action movie needs from a protagonist, luckily they got Harrison in a role that helped launch his career to new heights — as did Star Wars. As one of his earlier films, Spielberg said he had the absolute time of his life filming this movie with star Harrison Ford, and it shows through in the best way.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Main Cast: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman
Runtime: 115 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.4

Buy/Rent on Amazon

The Dark Knight (2008)

The Joker (Ledger) hangs out of a window of a cop car in The Dark Knight.
The Joker (Ledger) hangs out of a window of a cop car in The Dark Knight.

An incredible re-imagining of the comic book hero from director Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight is known for bringing one of the most iconic villains of a generation to screens: Heath Ledger’s Joker. Besides the crisply choreographed fight scenes and practical effects, the story goes above and beyond to be thoroughly enticing all the way to the end. Christian Bale’s Batman is a great highlight of this film, and if you haven’t seen Batman Begins please give it a watch before as it is one of the best hero origin stories ever produced.

Director: Christopher Nolan
Main Cast: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart
Runtime: 152 minutes
IMDb Rating: 9.0

Watch on HBO Max

The Matrix (1999)

Trinity (Moss) and Neo (Reeves) stand together heavily armed in The Matrix.
Trinity (Moss) and Neo (Reeves) stand together heavily armed in The Matrix.

Our boy Keanu is back on the list in one of the most mind-blowing sci-fi movies ever, The Matrix, which brought a scarily convincing — to some — concept that has stuck around ever since. Intertwining incredible kung-fu fighting scenes with gunfights, car chases, and stellar performances, it’s hard not to think of this sci-fi classic whenever one thinks of a great popcorn movie to watch.

Director(s): Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski
Main Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Ann Moss
Runtime: 136 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.7

Watch on HBO Max

Casino Royale (2006)

Bond (Craig) holds a gun and a hostage simultaneously in Casino Royale.
Bond (Craig) holds a gun and a hostage simultaneously in Casino Royale.

In the modern reboot of the James Bond character, Casino Royale is the most action-packed movie we have ever seen Bond involved in. From wonderfully captured free-running scenes all the way to gripping tension during a poker game (leading to torture), this Bond film has one of the darkest premises of them all — with the exception of the following and drearily dismal Quantum of Solace.

Director: Martin Campbell
Main Cast: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Judi Dench
Runtime: 142 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.0

Buy/Rent on Amazon

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 & 2 (2003-2004)

O-Ren Ishii (Liu) holds her samurai sword opposite Beatrix Kiddo (Thurman) in Kill Bill: Vol. 1
O-Ren Ishii (Liu) holds her samurai sword opposite Beatrix Kiddo (Thurman) in Kill Bill: Vol. 1

In classic Quentin Tarantino fashion, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 & 2 are both bloody, fantastic spectacles of film that easily top his charts as well as others. Awesome characters are all played by incredible actors, samurai swords are involved, and what would a Tarantino film be without an excessive and hose-like amount of blood spilling on the floor.

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Main Cast: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen
Runtime: 111 and 137 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.1, 8.0

Buy/Rent Vol. 1 on Amazon

Buy/Rent Vol. 2 on Amazon

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Chewbacca, C3-PO, Leia Organa, and Han Solo all sit in the Millenium Falcon in The Empire Strikes Back.
Chewbacca, C3-PO, Leia Organa, and Han Solo all sit in the Millenium Falcon in The Empire Strikes Back.

In what is claimed by many avid fans to be the best of all Star Wars movies, The Empire Strikes Back somehow wowed audiences even more than the first monumental movie to be released. Given a much larger budget to work with than the previous installment, Irvin Kershner and his crew maintained many of the best aspects — practical effects and costumes, original cast and characters — and made the much darker-themed and exciting movie that we know it to be.

Director: Irvin Kershner
Main Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
Runtime: 124 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.7

Watch on Disney+

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