Top 10 Movies with the Best Action Sequences
VOICE OVER: Matthew Wende
Written by Alex Slade
Action movies that have the best action scenes of all time! WatchMojo presents the top 10 Movies that have the absolute greatest action sequences ever! But what classic film will take the top spot on our list? The Matrix, Skyfall, or Aliens? Watch to find out!
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There are definitely gonna be times you’ll forget to breathe while watching these films. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Movies with the Best Action Sequences.
For this list, we’ll be taking a look at movies that feature jaw-dropping action sequences, whether they’re intense shootouts, riveting chases, or anything in between.
#10: “The Raid: Redemption” (2011)
Combining well-choreographed hand-to-hand combat with stylish shooting sequences, “The Raid: Redemption” ticks every box when it come to what makes a good action film. It’s not too self-indulgent, and it’s the perfect escape movie for when you just wanna watch mayhem onscreen. Every scene tops the previous one, leading to one nerve-wracking final battle. Two protagonists against one antagonist, and it’s still one helluva tough fight, especially when the enemy has been stabbed in the neck. Yep, you heard right. Fueled by adrenaline and a fear of dying, the antagonist gives it all he’s got.
#9: “Die Hard” (1988)
One of the greatest action films ever made sees officer John McClane saving hostages taken during a Christmas party, and among them is his own wife. With his wisecracking sense of humor and attitude towards the whole situation, we can’t help but love the character. He feels like an everyday guy, setting him apart from the usual invincible heroes seen in other movies, and making the movie’s action that much more exciting. Jumping off exploding rooftops while barefoot is all in a night’s work for McClane. Who says action and Christmas can’t go hand in hand?
#8: “John Wick” (2014)
One of the most exciting action films of the 2010s, “John Wick” is a welcome return to form for Keanu Reeves, as he shoots his way through a staggering amount of people to get his revenge. And no wonder the action’s eye-popping: it’s co-directed by Chad Stahelski, who acted as Reeves’ stunt double in “The Matrix.” One long shootout set in a club stands out in particular: Wick blasts his way through to catch his target, killing with precision and style, while also avoiding action tropes like never having to reload or never getting hurt. This undeniably makes the movie that much more intense.
#7: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014)
Regarded as one of the best Marvel movies to date, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is a vast improvement over its predecessor. It’s a darker film, and the action is more intense with a lot of emotional stakes at play. There’s also a genuine sense of dread with Hydra taking over S.H.I.E.L.D., forcing our heroes to go on the run. All the while, Cap remains an unstoppable kicking and shield-throwing machine. The ultimate test comes when he battles the Winter Soldier on the highway. Luckily he’s brought a shield to a gunfight.
#6: “Mission: Impossible III” (2006)
Is there anything Tom Cruise can’t do? In this long running franchise, he just does one extreme stunt after another. “Mission: Impossible III” sees Ethan Hunt chasing down an arms dealer, and things get a little extreme, to put it lightly… especially when a freaking missile firing attack drone enters the scene. J. J. Abrams brings his signature visual flair to the series, as the action sequences are all a spectacle. Throughout the film, viewers are treated to elaborate stunts and great shootouts. Plus, who can forget Cruise’s trademark running style?
#5: “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015)
When almost 90% of the film is one big action sequence, it’d better be good. Thankfully, “Fury Road” is more than just good. Returning to the director’s chair is George Miller, who helmed the first three films thirty years prior, and he reinvigorates the franchise with tremendous, high-octane energy. Like we said, it’s essentially one long chase sequence, and there’s a heavy reliance on practical effects. But the CGI that is there is blended in beautifully. Each action sequence is a sight to behold, as gunfire, explosions, and vehicle crashes on the screen leave you in awe.
#4: “Aliens” (1986)
While “Alien” is a sci-fi horror masterpiece, “Aliens” sure gives it a run for its money. With a focus on action this time, “Aliens” throws countless Xenomorphs at the marines and the viewers, and we see just how effective firepower is against them. Power Loader Ripley vs. The Alien Queen is one kick-ass moment. Matching its size and speed, Ripley finishes the fight once and for all, with the queen eventually being launched into space. Ripley’s been a badass the entire film, and this sequence is the cherry on top. Game over, man. Game over.
#3: “Skyfall” (2012)
You can’t deny that Daniel Craig has style as James Bond, and it shows in “Skyfall.” Sam Mendes’ artistic direction adds much to the allure of this widely acclaimed entry into the 007 franchise. Its visually striking shot of a fight in darkness is just one example. The direction, as well as the set pieces and beautiful shots, make “Skyfall” not just one of the best Bond movies, but also one of the best action films in general. Bond fixing his cufflinks after landing on a half-destroyed train still gets us every time.
#2: “The Matrix” (1999)
A phenomenal piece of science fiction, as well as a generally fantastic action film, “The Matrix” is a technical and storytelling marvel. An action film without stakes leaves viewers not caring whether the protagonist makes it out alive, but this film has immensely high stakes, that being the freedom of humans from the tyranny of the machines. The fight between Neo and Agent Smith is literally a hands-on-head moment. During the whole film, we’re told that no one who’s fought an agent lives to talk about it, but we’re also told Neo is the One. This is the ultimate test.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few Honorable Mentions:
- “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007)
- “Dredd” (2012)
- “Hard Boiled” (1992)
#1: “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991)
When one of the best scenes in this violent and intense action film—involving a minigun—results in 0 deaths, it just goes to show that there’s more to making a great action film than just mind-numbing violence. Arnie, who’s gone from antagonist in the first film to protagonist in this one, struggles with protecting John Connor without taking innocent lives, and that’s where a lot of the entertainment comes from. When it comes to Terminator vs. Terminator, though, things get kicked up a few notches. The mayhem and collateral destruction are extreme, as arcades, hospitals, highways, and hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of property gets destroyed. It is to save humanity, after all.