Top 10 Action Movies of All Time

Script written by Stephanie Ng Wan And… action! Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Action Movies of All Time. For this list, we're looking at the best, most memorable and/or iconic action movies from the 1970s and beyond, and are basing our choices on a mix of their quality and critical and commercial success. Like this video? Make sure to submit your ideas at WatchMojo.comsuggest today!
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Top 10 Action Movies of All Time


And… action! Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Action Movies of All Time.

For this list, we’re looking at the best, most memorable and/or iconic action movies from the 1970s and beyond, and are basing our choices on a mix of their quality and critical and commercial success.

#10: “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007)

Jason Bourne is back yet again to avoid certain death at the hands of assassins and to try to remember his past. The combination of Bourne’s intricate knowledge of combat, survival and battle tactics results in a complex plot that feels like it can twist at any moment. Much like the “Mission: Impossible” films, watching Bourne outwit the bad guys is always enthralling, and this third installment of the franchise is especially so. But with his shadowed past, who knows what he’ll do next?

#9: “Skyfall” (2012)

Similar to Christopher Nolan and his “Batman” trilogy, Daniel Craig’s reign as Bond gave the franchise a new, realistic makeover. It began in 2006 with “Casino Royale,” but it’s during Craig’s third turn as 007, in 2012’s “Skyfall,” that we’re given a much closer look at the secret agent’s origins and we get to see him in a much more vulnerable light. Fighting a revenge-driven madman and licking his wounds along the way, James Bond has never fought such a varied, daring and personal battle. And let’s not forget Javier Bardem’s excellently dastardly performance as Raoul Silva.

#8: “Dirty Harry” (1971)

Known for dealing with San Francisco’s dirty deeds, homicide inspector Harry Callahan is fittingly hard-as-nails. So when the Scorpio killer starts taking people out with a sniper rifle, Dirty Harry is called to rein him in. As well as giving us classic dialogue, Clint Eastwood delivers tense chases and brutal beat-‘em-ups, but it’s when he pulls out his legendary .44 Magnum handgun that this crime thriller really grabs you. “Dirty Harry” fared so well it spawned four sequels, including 1976’s “The Enforcer.”

#7: “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015)

Mel Gibson may have originated the role in the action-packed 1979 original, but it’s the successful revival of the 35-year-plus franchise with Tom Hardy that makes this list. 2015’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” sees George Miller once again taking the reins as director and co-writer, as well as co-producer, while the story follows our titular protagonist as he joins forces with Furiosa in a battle for freedom during post-apocalyptic times. Not even halfway through 2015 and the movie was hailed as one of the year’s best action flicks. The sci-fi action movie earned 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and has been seen as on par with “Mad Max 2,” which was previously considered the best in the series.

#6: “Aliens” (1986)

This James Cameron horror flick perfectly blends intense action and his original sci-fi flare. When Nostromo survivor Ellen Ripley returns to the now-colonized alien planet on a search-and-destroy mission with an elite group of soldiers, it’s guns versus space invaders. Unlike the original “Alien” film, “Aliens” has way more of the evil blighters to blow away. This means there’s more gore, more nervous dispositions and of course, more battles. Plus, if it weren’t for the “Alien” franchise, we never would’ve gotten sci-fi action flicks like the next year’s “Predator,” starring good ol’ Arnold Schwarzenegger.

#5: “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” (1977)

After a young farm boy embraces his destiny and accepts that he’s bound to become a Jedi, defeat Darth Vader and rescue Princess Leia, we’re treated to a story of good versus evil that’s got a helluva lot of action. What really sells this galactic epic are its space battles and the new take on the sword fight – using the now-famous light-sabers. Combine this with stunning visuals and you have the beginnings of one of the most successful sci-fi action franchises ever.

#4: “The Dark Knight” (2008)

After making a first attempt in 2005 with the “Batman Begins” reboot, Christopher Nolan nailed his atmospheric directing style with “The Dark Knight.” He also marked a first in the movie industry by shooting several scenes in IMAX. This meant moments like the Joker’s bank robbery and the epic car chase presented audiences with glorious visuals. Add this to Heath Ledger’s anarchic portrayal of the trench coat-wearing psychopath The Joker, and you’ve got an actionthriller/superhero flick that no one’s likely to forget any time soon.

#3: “The Matrix” (1999)

This sci-fi action movie made philosophy, dressing in long black coats and fighting kung-fu in midair awesome. After being stuck in a fake world of computer-generated illusion, Keanu Reeves’ Neo is awoken to the real world, only to find that robots have enslaved the human race. To put an end to the synthetic veilof the Matrix, Neo must face notoriously deadly agents, defeat rooms full of machinegun-packing bad-guys and – of course – dodge bullets. Whoa.

#2: “Die Hard” (1988)

In the first installment of the “Die Hard” franchise, New York cop John McClane finds himself in Nakatomi Plaza as German criminals seize control. We watch as he covertly takes out each of the acting terrorists one-by-one in an attempt to rescue hostages, violently executing them, slithering through vents and even teasing the bad guys with some festive cheer. This tense shooter set the foundations for numerous sequels and gave us one of the most memorable sendoff lines ever…

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol” (2011)
- “Speed” (1994)
- “Lethal Weapon” (1987)
- “True Lies” (1994)
- “The French Connection” (1971)
- “Con Air” (1997)

#1: “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991)

Seven years after the first “Terminator” movie opened on the big screen, “Judgment Day” sees Arnold Schwarzenegger return in all of his monosyllabic glory. Only this time, he’s here to protect future resistance leader, John Connor. In addition to giving us the slang-talking robotronic Arnie, “T2” is also full ofawesome motorbike chases, eye candy stand-offs and freaky improvised weaponry, thanks to some very advanced special effects and a regenerating liquid T-1000 made of mimetic poly-alloy. A pop culture mainstay, “Judgment Day” is often considered one of the best action movies, one of the best sci-fi moviesand one of the best sequels ever – so it’s no wonder that it's topped our list as well.

Do you agree with our list? What do you think is the best action movie of all time? For more thrilling top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.

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