Best action movies of all time in English, ranked

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Whether it’s our most basic human tendencies towards competition and argument, an obsessive quirk of some hobbyist, or a simple marketing ploy, we like to categorize things and pit them against each other. . From restaurants on Yelp to humans on Uber, we like to evaluate things and force them into comparative structures no matter what damage we might cause in the process. “Best Of” lists are hugely popular and fuel people’s terrible divisive impulses (as evidenced in the comments section below), so what better genre to rank than one solely focused on people fighting – the stock ?


Again, these lists can be extremely useful. They spotlight titles that more people should see, bringing exposure to a variety of films while validating the opinions of others and celebrating those who are truly worthy. Now, it is difficult to list the best action movies ever made because few movies exist only in one genre, especially action.

There are plenty of incredible action scenes in mostly sci-fi movies (Aliens, Terminator, Predator, The Matrix), there are the action-packed CGI shows of superhero movies, there are comedy movies with lots of action (Hot Fuzz, 21 Jump Street, The Other Guys), and there’s Quentin Tarantino, whose movies have action but are never action movies, except Kill Bill. Both of these films are packed with clever action sequences and remain for many the best action films of the last two decades. However, there are so many the movies that Tarantino shot (as he himself admitted), that Kill Bill looks more like a Frankenstein action than anything else. It’s a greatest hits compilation, really, and a great build, but let’s call it an honorable mention.

However, we’re going to limit this list of the best American action movies to something as pure as possible – no aliens or monsters, no laugh-out-loud comedies, no flying heroes in tights and no Tarantino. . While there are obviously many films that could be listed here (and will be mentioned in the comments as boring people call this author a talentless idiot for not including them), the following are the most essential and greatest all time.

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11/11 The French Connection

The French Connection - Gene Hackman
20th century fox

Whether Bullit paved the way for action cinema to truly go wild, then The French Connection is perhaps his first masterpiece (and not, Point Blank is not an action movie). For a long time, the action genre simply couldn’t compete with other genres; the violence, realism, camerawork, and editing that great action typically needs didn’t exist until the ’70s, for a variety of reasons. The closest genre to that would be the western, with movies like The Wild Band closer to the live-action than most other films before the 70s.

That 1971 movie Exorcist director William Friedkin, meanwhile, is a gritty, exhilarating journey through the humid depths from New York as the cops pursue the drug trade. With a defining career performance by Gene Hackman as Detective Popeye Doyle, Friedkin’s documentary-like directing immerses viewers in the action, making for some of the greatest chase sequences of all time.

10/11 Unleashed (Danny the Dog)

Bob Hoskins and Jet Li in Unleashed or Danny the dog
United International Pictures

Jet Li is rightly considered one of the greatest action stars of all time, and although he gave many gravity-defying performances, his work in Unleashed (also known as Danny the dog) is his most underrated and arguably his best.

With a screenplay by Luc Besson (Leon the professional, The fifth Element) and direction of Louis Leterrier (the Carrier movies, Now you see me), an incredible techno score from Massive Attack and RZA, and great performances from Li, Morgan Freeman and Bob Hoskins, it’s mind-blowing how little known Unleashed is. The film follows the slow self-realization and revenge of a bodyguard, trained from an early age with a shock collar to work for a gangster.

September 11th The rock

The 1996 movie Rock with Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery is one of the best action movies
Buena Vista Pictures

For many, Michael Bay is the scourge of Hollywood, a director whose addiction to explosions and stained CGI ruined action cinema; for others, he’s created some of the most entertaining movies of the past three decades. Both parties can probably agree that The rock is simply an incredible film (good enough to sit next to the greatest author in the Criterion collection).

The rock has extremely amusing performances from Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage (as well as a moving Ed Harris), as a pair of men tasked with infiltrating Alcatraz to save the world or something else; Honestly, the plot doesn’t matter much, it’s the energy, the dialogue, the acting and the epic fun of it all that makes The rock a slightly cheesy but timeless action classic.

8/11 The rapidity

Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock on a bus
20th Century Fox Liberation

Among the many bottle-movie thrillers that sprouted after die hard changed the action game, The rapidity is perhaps the best. The tried-and-tested formula of limiting the action to a small spot (as seen in Air conditioning, Panic Room, The Raid, Snowpiercer, High-speed trainetc.) is perfected here in an exciting way through the pairing of Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, the over-the-top brilliance of a Dennis Hopper villain, and the neat set pieces with a speeding bus that will explode when it slows down.

7/11 John Wick

Keanu Reeves as John Wick
Lions Gate

John Wick seemed to signal a shift in the action landscape, embracing more fantasy and world-building than the increasingly dark and humorless action movies of the 2000s. against the world” Taken, like every other action movie after 2008, but almost as a morbid joke – Wick’s daughter wasn’t kidnapped; his dog was killed.

Related: These are the movies that influenced the John Wick franchise

Once again, Keanu Reeves proves why he’s arguably the biggest action star of the past three decades (in his third marvelous action-packed franchise), playing a hitman in a world in which seemingly one in three people is a killer. The almost neo-noir film, helping to usher in a new era of fun action movies made by stunt coordinators, has rightly become a huge sensation.

6/11 james bond

James Bond in The Sound of 007
EON Productions

This is a more complicated entry. Firstly because it’s a bit of a cheat to include an entire franchise (and probably not just one james bond the movie could be considered one of the ten best action movies ever made, except maybe celestial fall), but also because the james bond movies aren’t completely action movies, at least not until Pierce Brosnan’s era.

However, there are more than enough incredible action scenes from the franchise and intense set pieces for the james bond property to earn a place in the greatest action movies of all time. The notorious spy has experienced some of America’s best action sequences in movies, so he deserves to be here.

5/11 madmax

The 2015 post-apocalyptic action movie Mad Max Fury Road
Warner Bros.

While we are discussing franchises, one more cheating is allowed here – madmax. While apparently a post-apocalyptic movie series, the madmax movies don’t include the usual sci-fi stuff and are generally more focused on relentless chase sequences and epic combat.

Mel Gibson’s time behind the wheel has featured plenty of great action moments, but this is arguably the most recent installment, Mad Max: Fury Road, who takes the cake. Hailed as one of the greatest action films of all time, this incredibly choreographed, imaginatively crafted, and endlessly entertaining film feels like watching an incredible race that never gets bored or stale. never stop.

4/11 die hard

Movie Die Hard with Bruce Willis and the Tower
20th century

die hard changed the action game in many ways. To help popularize the idea of ​​action movies set in the same placeto celebrate a more relatable hero rather than a torn Stallone or Schwarzenegger, to his incorporation of character wit and humor, die hard upended many old notions of what an action movie could be. With an imposing but offbeat performance from Bruce Willis as a cynical man trying to save a hostage situation and his marriage, die hard is a Christmas classic for some and just an action masterpiece for everyone else.

3/11 Front/Off

Face/Off of the movie John Travolta and Nicolas Cage
Touchstone Pictures

Front/Off may not be the most critically acclaimed action film, and may not have started a great franchise, and may be extremely ridiculous, and yet there is something about this film in English from action master John Woo who is irreverently endearing.

Related: Face/Off: What Makes John Woo’s Movie an Action Masterpiece

Eccentric and exaggerated, Front/Off features two of the wildest performance by Nicolas Cage and John Travolta as two men on opposite sides of the law who literally switch faces. With hilarious line readings, Woo’s consistently brilliant use of visual metaphors, and stunning set pieces, Front/Off is an extremely fun movie that only seems to get better with age.

2/11 The Raiders of the Lost Ark

Indiana Jones Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Paramount Pictures

The Raiders of the Lost Ark blurs the line between action and adventure, but has enough iconic sequences, chases and fights that it has rightfully gone down in history as one of the greatest action films of all time. With a magnetically charming performance by Harrison Ford as one of the most iconic characters of all timeIndiana Jones, The Raiders of the Lost Ark is the first and best of Indie’s adventures around the world to discover treasures, save women and children, fight Nazis and flee from rocks and snakes.

1/11 Impossible mission

Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible (1996)
Paramount Pictures

the original Impossible mission movie of director Brian DePalma is a paranoid masterpiece that seems to exist only as one technically impressive set after another, setting the pattern for a franchise that essentially replicates the pattern. The thing is that the Impossible mission the movies simply do it better than any other.

There may be more meaningful, culturally significant, or clever action films, but each Impossible mission The film appears to be the latest in terms of death-defying stunts, charming characters, masterful cinematography, and intense storylines. Even if we discarded the whole franchise and only watched this first De Palma film, Impossible mission is quite possibly the best action movie of all time.

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