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Bingeing the best action movies will give you a virtual adrenaline rush if you want something with some thrill and chill.
Action movies are a bit of a contradiction. Generally, the audience loves it, and the critics don’t. But even as the critics and reviews continue to harshly judge the fun flicks, viewers continue to line up the movie theatres to experience that thrill like no other.
So, if you are a lover of movies and an enthusiast of action films, get ready to take a thrilling ride with the best action movies of all time in Hollywood. With this guide, you will discover all the best action movies to watch and enjoy.
1. The Popular Genre Of Action
The action genre is popular in many forms of media – books, movies, TV series, anime, and more. Still, the aspect and feel of this genre are best captured by movies.
Nothing gives you the same rush as those exciting fight scenes, thrilling car chases, or a satisfying showdown between the opposing characters of an action film.
To watch great, incredible, unbelievable, and sometimes even ridiculous stuff happen on the screen is a crucial must when seeing a movie of this genre.
It will get your blood pumping and leave you open-mouthed to see outstanding performances of stunt jobs and death-defying incidents.
And every year, the movie industry and various streaming sites release tons of great films, some of which are the best action movies of all time.
2. The Top 24 Best Action Movies Of All Time
While you may find many, maybe even a little too many action films scattered throughout the years, not each of them is a good watch.
Many are truly enjoyable, but only some have that clever mix of a good plot, striking characters, and an unpaired technical skill of stunts essential to go beyond normal thrills and attain the level of genuinely wonderful cinema.
Here, you will find some of the best action movies of all time that will chase away the blues and boredom in the real world.
2.1) Dr. No (1962)
When ranking the best action movies of all time, the first thing that comes to mind is the enigmatic and brilliant British Secret Service Agent – James Bond.
Many films have been made with 007, and many actors have played this heroic character.
While Sean Connery’s Bond series is best known for the 1964 Goldfinger, the first movie deserves a place among the best action movies of all time.
The 1962 movie by Terence Young follows Agent 007 in opposition to a genius but mad scientist, Dr. No, who is set to destroy the United States space program with his eccentric plan.
James Bond has to reach Jamaica and stop the villain from carrying out the disastrous agenda.
So start your journey to the world of best action movies of all time with the film that gave birth to the most recognized action hero in the world.
The action genre in movies is not complete without the presence of James Bond.
2.2) Casino Royale (2006)
Want more of 007? There’s plenty. Casino Royale will take you back to the origin of James Bond with a cast and will reward you with the brilliant performance of Daniel Craig as your beloved secret service agent.
With Casino Royale, director Martin Campbell gives one of the best movies in the franchise.
The story follows Bond going on his first mission after receiving his 00 status with the authorization to kill.
He undertakes a mission to stop Le Chiffre, a mob banker, from gaining victory in a high-stakes poker game.
Apart from the memorable debut of Craig as Bond, you will also be impressed by the performance of Eva Green as Vesper Lynd and Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre.
You can continue your journey of the Bond series with the many sequels.
While many of the best Bond films consider Skyfall (2012), the last movie of the series, No Time To Die (2021), is a fitting finale for the beloved secret agent.
2.3) The Dark Knight (2008)
The movies based on Marvel and DC comics rule over the action genre.
Everyone loves superhero movies; these have become the best examples of best action movies.
In the second movie of the trilogy, The Dark Knight (2008), director Christopher Nolan gives comic book lovers a perfect blend of amazing acting, brilliant action sequences, and an ending with a twist that no one could guess.
The setting is the city of Gotham, where Gordon, Dent, and Batman make a difference in stopping crime; the gangs engage the Joker, a psychopathic evil mastermind who strives to kill Batman and take over the city.
You will forever remember Heath Ledger as The Joker, and for some, Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne will forever be the best Batman.
Even though it came out the same year as another masterpiece, Iron Man, The Dark Knight, has found a place as the best comic book to film adaptation.
2.4) Kill Bill: Volumes 1 and 2 (2003-2004)
Even though released in 2 volumes, Quentin Tarantino’s phenomenal martial arts “Whole Bloody Affair” is a perfect 4-hour watch.
The action-filled first half of the volume shows the brilliant escapade of vengeance embarked on by the Bride, a skilled killer, on her journey to assassinate the old affiliates who left her and her unborn baby for dead.
The events lead to a thrilling showdown in the extraordinary House of Blue Leaves sequence. Here, the assassin takes down a group of masked adversaries and emerges victorious.
The next volume transforms to a more reflective tone as the Bride closes in on the mob’s leader, Bill, who is her former admirer.
With dialogues full of as many killing blows as the action itself, the two volumes of Kill Bill will take you on a rollercoaster ride of all the things you can ask for in the best action movies of all time.
Want more? Try Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair (2011) – the third volume of the franchise.
Bored by the same old plot? With Mad Max: Fury Road, you will experience one of the most unique and best action movies you’ll ever experience.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world, this action film focuses on the character of Max, a wanderer and survivor who ends up joining Imperator Furiosa, a rebel warrior, in a thrilling journey to oust a tyrant who has complete control of the water supply system of the lands.
With a stunning pictorial narrative, brilliant dialogues, and unforgettable characters, Mad Max: Fury Road is a spectacular masterpiece to see and enjoy.
2.6) Speed (1994)
In this movie, a destructive man plants a bomb in a bus, and a young police officer has to maintain a speed of fifty mph to stop that bomb from exploding. The film is filled with violence and exhilaration that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Thrilling and compelling, this Oscar-winning movie starring Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves is worth a watch if you are a fan of brutal action scenes.
A sequel to the 1984 film The Terminator, this action movie based on time travel by director James Cameron shows a Terminator on a mission to murder Sarah’s son, John Connor.
But, in a surprising turn of events, another cyborg, who once tried to kill Sarah, is assigned as John’s protector.
This one is perfect if you are looking for an Action/Sci-fi combo.
Based on the book of the same name, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon follows the warrior Master Li requesting Yu Shu Lien, a woman he loves, to give his sword, Green Destiny, to Sir Te.
When the sword gets stolen, Li undertakes a journey to find it.
It is one of the best action movies of all time; this one has a well-written plot, a beautiful romance, and spectacular fights based on martial arts.
Two hours will easily fly by when you watch this fast-paced action film by Ang Lee.
2.9) Point Break (1991)
A tale of crime and friendship all packed in a two-hour-long movie, Point Break centers on the characters of FBI agent Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) and a surfer gang’s leader, Bodhi (Patrick Swayze).
The second half of the movie is a great example of a long version of a cat-and-mouse game as the two protagonists dance around in the actions of surfing, skydiving, and chasing.
2.10) Battle Royale (2000)
Based on the bestseller by Koushun Takami, Battle Royale follows a group of forty-two 9th graders sent to an isolated island.
Their mission is to execute each other; only the sole survivor can leave the place. They are provided with a map, some sustenance, several weapons, and an explosive band fitted around their neck. In the case of violating any rule, the collar explodes.
This brutal and bloody manga-style movie is a great choice for the fans of The Hunger Games or Lord of the Flies.
2.11) The Dirty Dozen (1967)
Seemingly based on the true events of some criminal soldiers of World War II who got nicknamed the Dirty Dozen (or Filthy Thirteen according to some sources), this 1967 movie follows the twelve convicts on a classified mission to assassinate German personnel.
With severe violence, dark humor, and brutal action, this film is one of the best action movies of all time.
Maybe you know and love him as Han Solo, but Harrison Ford shines brilliantly as the archaeology professor Indiana Jones.
In the series’ first film, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, director Steven Spielberg takes you on an adventure to find a biblical artifact called the Ark of the Covenant.
Followed by The Temple of Doom, The Last Crusade, and The Kingdom of Crystal Skull, fans are now thrilled about the return of this beloved character once more with Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny in 2023.
2.13) Enter the Dragon (1973)
Enter the Dragon is very important among the best action movies ever – it boosted the making of martial arts films.
The movie follows the Shaolin martial artist Lee, who assists British Intelligence by going on an undercover mission to catch Han, who is a part of drug trafficking and the sex trade.
So, if you are a martial arts and action movie fan, you will undoubtedly be impressed by the charming and brilliant Bruce Lee in this 1973 release.
2.14) Inception (2010)
Another masterpiece by Christopher Nolan, Inception, comes with an all-star cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Elliot Page.
This movie is not a typical action flick. With sci-fi elements like dream-sharing technology, Inception is sometimes confusing, but ultimately, a cinematic masterpiece should be on your must-watch list.
Matt Damon stars as Jason Bourne in what is believed to be the best movie of this brilliant film franchise.
Considered one of the best action movies of all time, The Bourne Ultimatum by director Paul Greengrass has remarkable splendor that blends the exhilaration, emotion, and events that make any action movie worth many watches.
Starting with The Bourne Identity (2002), this film series is something you cannot miss when bingeing on the best action movies of all time.
2.16) Die Hard (1988)
The movie focuses on detective John McClane, who wishes to spend Christmas with his estranged wife but comes to know about a hostage dilemma in an office building.
With his wife as one of the hostages, it is a race against time and the terrorist Hans Grubber as McClane tries to save the civilians from the ruthless villain.
The movie has many sequels, but the first one with Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman remains a classic and one of the best action movies of all time to date.
2.17) First Blood (1982)
Starring Sylvester Stallone, the movie follows the former United States soldier John Rambo, who, traumatized by his time serving in the Vietnam War, gets into turmoil when an episode with a small-town sheriff stirs his violent nature.
The movie’s exciting events and thrilling sequences will keep you on the edge until the very last minute.
2.18) Seven Samurai (1954)
Apart from being one of the best action movies of all time, this cinematic masterpiece by Akira Kurosawa is considered by many to be the greatest film ever made.
Following a veteran samurai who assembles six samurais to defend a village from brutal bandits, the movie initiated an unknown yet fascinating culture and is available to viewers weaned on Hollywood western flicks.
2.19) Police Story (1985)
With a strong start and a brilliant ending, this film starring Jackie Chan as a Hong Kong policeman is a must-watch for all lovers of action movies out there.
The policeman, Kevin, played by Jackie Chan, single-handedly catches an infamous drug lord but gets framed for killing another policeman.
With fights, thrills, fun, and comic elements, Police Story is one of the most enjoyable action flicks ever.
A tale of revenge and retribution, the movie centers on Liu, who, after witnessing a violent assault by the Machu government, goes to Shaolin Temple and becomes a trained Kung Fu fighter.
Widely recognized as one of the greatest kung fu movies ever made, this legendary work of art changed and revolutionized the whole genre.
2.21) Spy (2015)
A slapstick comedy combined with action rarely hits the mark. Still, Spy manages to garner viewers’ love with Feig’s brilliant direction and script, McCarthy and Byrne’s portrayal of the characters Susan Cooper and Rayna Boyanovas, and Jason Statham’s surprising execution of the comedic role.
With equal laughs and thrills, this is one action/comedy movie you cannot skip.
2.22) Gladiator (2000)
Director Ridley Scott takes you on an epic and historic journey to the lands of Rome.
The movie portrays the iconic tale of General Maximus (Russell Crowe), who is demoted to a gladiator and has to fight till his death.
The movie has enthralled audiences worldwide, becoming an instant hit and even receiving a Best Picture Oscar at the Academy Awards 2001.
2.23) The Matrix (1999)
Are you willing to learn a life-altering truth or blissfully live a happy yet ignorant life? The Matrix asks the same question with the red and blue pill.
An example of the cyberpunk subdivision of sci-fi, The Martian, starring Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne, is known for its stunning action scenes and spectacular special effects.
The movie is followed by several sequels – The Matrix Reloaded (2003), The Matrix Revolutions (2003), and The Matrix Resurrections (2021).
The movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or The MCU have been frequently criticized for not getting dark enough. While most Marvel movies fall under the action genre, they don’t get too bloody or brutal. But this has allowed children and squeamish adults to enjoy the best aspects of action movies.
However, Captain America: The Winter Soldier deserves mention for the brilliant boat scene, SUV attack, Elevator fight, Highway fight, and the ultimate showdown between Cap and Bucky.
Captain America: Civil War (2016) comes at a very close second with the Airport battle and the last faceoff between Iron Man and Captain America.
Some other MCU movies with great action elements are Iron Man 3, Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, Shang-Chi, and The Legend of the Ten Rings. And finally, one also has to include the epic last battle scene in Avengers: Endgame, where all the Avengers finally “assemble.”
But if you are looking for something a bit bloodier and more violent, try the X-Men, Deadpool, and Wolverine movies.
So, are you ready for a few hours of pure thrill and fun? Then, get ready to leave the dull world for a few hours and enter the land of guns, fist fights, car chases, and heart-stopping sequences.
Grab a buttery bowl of popcorn and binge-watch the fun and exciting action films with your friends or family.
With the best action movies of all time, you are sure to forget about the troubles of real life and get a thrilling virtual dose of adrenaline rush.
4. FAQs On The Best Action Movies Of All Time
Have more queries on best action films. Read the answers to the most frequently asked questions to learn about the best action movies.
4.1 Why Watch Action Films?
Maybe you are not a fan of the bloody genre and have asked yourself what might be the appeal of this popular movie.
The movies take you on a rollercoaster ride filled with thrills and kills that will undoubtedly make you forget about your troubles and anxieties for a little while.
So, if you are looking for a virtual dose of an adrenaline rush, hop on a ride to the best action movies of all time.
4.2 Are Action Films Appropriate for Audiences of All Ages?
There are endless numbers of action movies to watch and enjoy. However, not all of them are appropriate for audiences of all ages.
Some of the best action movies can be too bloody or violent for little kids to watch.
The best way to find out which action movies you can watch with your little ones is to see the movie’s rating. Those rated G and PG are the most sensible options. Generally, Marvel superhero movies are considered a perfect choice to watch with kids.
4.3 What are Some of the Best Action Movies of all time?
You will find no shortage of films with gun fights, hand-to-hand combat, car chases, and action sequences.
Some of the best action movies of all time are Bond movies, Kill Bill Volumes, Die Hard, The Matrix, and many more.
Last Updated on December 18, 2023 by Sathi Chakraborty