140 Essential Action Movies To Watch Now
Welcome to our guide to the most Essential Action Movies! Where everyone enters…and only 140 leave. Which sounds like a lot, but when you’re considering thousands of action movies, it’s only the most thrilling, the most exciting, the most brutal, and the influential who make the cut!
Action is a wide-open genre and term, and we endeavored to include something from every era, style, and movement of action movies. We have the classics (Die Hard, The French Connection), modern fan favorites (Hardcore Henry, John Wick), superhero blockbusters (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), and plenty from the macho ’80s (Commando, First Blood). Not to mention some action genre crossovers: sci-fi (Equilibrium), horror (They Live), and, of course, comedy (Beverly Hills Cop).
Internationally, we reach as far as Hong Kong (Police Story, Hard-Boiled), Australia (The Road Warrior), England (Kingsman: The Secret Service), France (La Femme Nikita), Indonesia (The Raid: Redemption), Korea (The Villainess), and beyond.
These are the action movies whose influence can be seen in the films that followed. They spawned franchises, pushed back against time, defined and even expanded the genre. These are the badass movies that make audiences feel cooler from having seen them. In the interest of keeping the Essential Movies as tight and pure as possible, we excluded the genres of war, sports, Western, and samurai. Otherwise, a movie’s Tomatometer score was not a factor, so long as the plot was kicked forward in a hail of bullets, car chases, fist fights, and martial arts wizardry.
Now, it’s time to pound faces and popcorn, with the 140 Essential Action Movies to watch now!
Adjusted Score: 58.247%
Critics Consensus: Running Scared struggles to strike a consistent balance between violent action and humor, but the chemistry between its well-matched leads keeps things entertaining.
Distinguished by a sharp, witty dialogue between its two cop protagonists, Ray and Danny (Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal), this... [More]
Adjusted Score: 41.995%
Critics Consensus: Equilibrium is a reheated mishmash of other sci-fi movies.
In the nation of Libria, there is always peace among men. The rules of the Librian system are simple. If... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100.864%
Critics Consensus: With death-defying action sequences and epic historic sweep, Hero offers everything a martial arts fan could ask for.
Hero is two-time Academy Award nominee Zhang Yimou's directorial attempt at exploring the concept of a Chinese hero. During the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 41.981%
Critics Consensus: Whether Road House is simply bad or so bad it's good depends largely on the audience's fondness for Swayze -- and tolerance for violently cheesy action.
Dalton (Swayze) is a true gentleman with a degree in philosophy from NYU. He also has a flip side -... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.618%
Critics Consensus: As fast, loud, and relentless as the train at the center of the story, Unstoppable is perfect popcorn entertainment -- and director Tony Scott's best movie in years.
In this action thriller from director Tony Scott, rookie train operator Will (Chris Pine) and grizzled veteran engineer Frank (Denzel... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92.213%
Critics Consensus: This is the man that would risk his neck for his brother, man. Can you dig it?
Shaft, a highly successful film, spawned an industry of sequels and imitations. The daughter (Sherri Brewer) of Bumpy Jones (Moses... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87.904%
Critics Consensus: The Villainess offers enough pure kinetic thrills to satisfy genre enthusiasts -- and carve out a bloody niche for itself in modern Korean action cinema.
Since she was a little girl, Sook-hee was raised to be a deadly assassin. She gladly accepts the chance to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 71.851%
Critics Consensus: People hate Highlander because it's cheesy, bombastic, and absurd. And people love it for the same reasons.
Among humans for centuries, an immortal specie existed. Connor MacLeod is a member of this specie. Unaware of his powers,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 73.361%
Critics Consensus: It lacks the fresh thrills of its predecessor, but Die Hard 2 still works as an over-the-top -- and reasonably taut -- big-budget sequel, with plenty of set pieces to paper over the plot deficiencies.
"Another basement, another elevator...how can the same thing happen to the same guy twice?" asks John McClane (Bruce Willis), in... [More]
Adjusted Score: 50.906%
Critics Consensus: National Treasure is no treasure, but it's a fun ride for those who can forgive its highly improbable plot.
Benjamin Franklin Gates is a third generation treasure hunter. All his life, Gates has been searching for a treasure no... [More]
Adjusted Score: 55.46%
Critics Consensus: Despite some impressive fight scenes, this trimmed-down version of the Thai action pic is an off-putting mix of scant plot, choppy editing, and confusing subtitles and dubbing.
Kham's life is turned upside down when an international mafia syndicate, based in Australia, captures his two beloved elephants and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98.084%
Critics Consensus: Revenge slices and dices genre tropes, working within an exploitation framework while adding a timely -- yet never less than viscerally thrilling -- feminist spin.
Jen (fearlessly embodied by Matilda Lutz, Rings) is enjoying a romantic getaway with her wealthy boyfriend which is suddenly disrupted... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94.655%
Critics Consensus: Made on a shoestring budget, El Mariachi's story is not new. However, the movie has so much energy that it's thoroughly enjoyable.
Filmed in two weeks on a budget of 7,000 dollars, El Mariachi was one of the singular pleasures of the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98.47%
Critics Consensus: A brilliantly directed feast for the eyes with an epic story to match, A Touch of Zen marks a groundbreaking achievement in the wuxia genre.
According to this drama, set in 14th-century China, a state-run secret police organization made life a living hell for anyone... [More]
Adjusted Score: 59.098%
Critics Consensus: Though it features some of the most memorable and electrifying aereial footage shot with an expert eye for action, Top Gun offers too little for non-adolescent viewers to chew on when its characters aren't in the air.
Devil-may-care navy pilot Pete Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is sent to Miramar Naval Air Station for advanced training. Here he vies... [More]
Adjusted Score: 59.746%
Critics Consensus: Con Air won't win any awards for believability - and all involved seem cheerfully aware of it, making some of this blockbuster action outing's biggest flaws fairly easy to forgive.
Former war hero Cameron Poe (Nicolas Cage) is sentenced to eight years in prison when he accidentally kills a man... [More]
Adjusted Score: 72.418%
Critics Consensus: Taut, violent, and suitably self-deprecating, The Expendables 2 gives classic action fans everything they can reasonably expect from a star-studded shoot-'em-up -- for better and for worse.
The Expendables are back and this time it's personal... Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet... [More]
Adjusted Score: 65.183%
Critics Consensus: It's difficult to make a persuasive argument for The Mummy as any kind of meaningful cinematic achievement, but it's undeniably fun to watch.
Loosely adapted from the classic 1932 horror film starring Boris Karloff, The Mummy is set in Egypt, where over 3,000... [More]
Adjusted Score: 67.227%
Critics Consensus: Although this action-romance suffers from weak writing and one too many explosions, the chemistry generated by onscreen couple Pitt and Jolie is palpable enough to make this a thoroughly enjoyable summer action flick.
John and Jane Smith are an ordinary suburban couple with an ordinary, lifeless suburban marriage. But each of them has... [More]
Adjusted Score: 63.724%
Critics Consensus: A kick-ass addition to the cop-buddy film genre.
Brett Ratner directed this action-comedy that found box-office success by teaming Chris Tucker with Jackie Chan -- performing his own... [More]
Adjusted Score: 67.799%
Critics Consensus: The Equalizer is more stylishly violent than meaningful, but with Antoine Fuqua behind the cameras and Denzel Washington dispensing justice, it delivers.
In The Equalizer, Denzel Washington plays McCall, a man who believes he has put his mysterious past behind him and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 107.751%
Critics Consensus: Captain America: Civil War begins the next wave of Marvel movies with an action-packed superhero blockbuster boasting a decidedly non-cartoonish plot and the courage to explore thought-provoking themes.
Marvel's "Captain America: Civil War" finds Steve Rogers leading the newly formed team of Avengers in their continued efforts to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 80.027%
Critics Consensus: This late-period Harrison Ford actioner is full of palpable, if not entirely seamless, thrills.
In this action drama, Harrison Ford plays James Marshall, a onetime combat hero in the Vietnam War who is now... [More]
Adjusted Score: 41.195%
Critics Consensus: This is where it all began for the Muscles from Brussels, but beyond Van Damme's athleticism, Bloodsport is a cliched, virtually plotless exercise in action movie recycling.
U.S. soldier Frank Dux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) has come to Hong Kong to be accepted into the Kumite, a highly... [More]
Adjusted Score: 60.665%
Critics Consensus: Though some may find the plot a bit lacking, Blade's action is fierce, plentiful, and appropriately stylish for a comic book adaptation.
British director Stephen Norrington helmed this David S. Goyer adaptation of the Marvel Comics character created in 1973 by scripter... [More]
Adjusted Score: 45.906%
Critics Consensus: Bad Boys stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence have enjoyable chemistry; unfortunately, director Michael Bay too often drowns it out with set pieces and explosions in place of an actual story.
Former video director Michael Bay had his first big hit with this action comedy, which also returned producers Jerry Bruckheimer... [More]
Adjusted Score: 63.595%
Critics Consensus: Die Hard with a Vengeance benefits from Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson's barbed interplay, but clatters to a bombastic finish in a vain effort to cover for an overall lack of fresh ideas.
Bruce Willis returns as misfit cop John McClane in the third film in the Die Hard series. McClane has fallen... [More]
Adjusted Score: 66.951%
Critics Consensus: The Running Man is winking sci-fi satire with ridiculous clothes and workmanlike direction.
An unjustly accused prisoner in 2019 is given a slim chance at freedom if he enters a battle-to-the-death on a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 63.673%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Not to be confused with the 1960 film of the same name, this fast-paced karate action flick stars Chuck Norris,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 72.152%
Critics Consensus: As preposterous and over-the-top as Shoot 'Em Up may be, its humor and non-stop action make for a very enjoyable film.
A mysterious man delivers a baby during a shootout and is entrusted with protecting the child from criminals out to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 63.669%
Critics Consensus: Crank's assaultive style and gleeful depravity may turn off casual action fans, but audiences seeking a strong dose of adrenaline will be thrilled by Jason Statham's raucous race against mortality.
A one-time freelance hitman who was just attempting to turn his life around is forced to keep his heart pumping... [More]
Adjusted Score: 77.618%
Critics Consensus: Machete is messy, violent, shallow, and tasteless -- and that's precisely the point of one of the summer's most cartoonishly enjoyable films.
A blade-wielding ex-federale hides out as a day laborer when he is double-crossed by a corrupt senator. ... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100.432%
Critics Consensus: With its hyper-stylized blend of violence, music, and striking imagery, Drive represents a fully realized vision of arthouse action.
Ryan Gosling stars as a Los Angeles wheelman for hire, stunt driving for movie productions by day and steering getaway... [More]
Adjusted Score: 76.968%
Critics Consensus: An eerie, haunting spectacle, Batman succeeds as dark entertainment, even if Jack Nicholson's Joker too often overshadows the title character.
Jack Nicholson is the Joker, who emerged from a horrible accident as a maniacal criminal. Michael Keaton is the Caped... [More]
Adjusted Score: 80.424%
Critics Consensus: A well-directed action thriller that makes the most of its confined setting, Under Siege marks a high point for early '90s action -- and its star's spotty filmography.
Andrew Davis directed this exciting thriller starring Steven Seagal, sans ponytail, and featuring electric, over-the-top performances by Gary Busey and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 71.051%
Critics Consensus: The plot is thin and so is character development, but as a thrilling, spectacle-filled summer movie, Independence Day delivers.
A group of intrepid humans attempts to save the Earth from vicious extraterrestrials in this extremely popular science-fiction adventure. Borrowing... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100.531%
Critics Consensus: Steve McQueen is cool as ice in this thrilling police procedural that also happens to contain arguably the greatest movie car chase ever.
Robert L. Pike's crime novel Mute Witness makes the transition to the big screen in this film from director Peter... [More]
Adjusted Score: 78.696%
Critics Consensus: Wanted is stylish, energetic popcorn fare with witty performances from Angelina Jolie (playing an expert assassin), James McAvoy, and Morgan Freeman that help to distract from its absurdly over-the-top plot.
Wesley's (James McAvoy) life is over - his pathetic old one, anyway... Fortunately, it is all because of a girl.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101.248%
Critics Consensus: Superman deftly blends humor and gravitas, taking advantage of the perfectly cast Christopher Reeve to craft a loving, nostalgic tribute to an American pop culture icon.
Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel in a big-budget epic with Oscar-winning effects. Marlon Brando, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 70.271%
Critics Consensus: Ronin earns comparisons to The French Connection with strong action, dynamic road chase scenes, and solid performances.
When an international team of former intelligence agents and Cold War warriors meet in a warehouse, their adventure of love,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90.707%
Critics Consensus: A politically subversive blend of horror and sci fi, They Live is an underrated genre film from John Carpenter.
A homeless drifter discovers a reason for the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor: a conspiracy by non-human... [More]
Adjusted Score: 72.943%
Critics Consensus: While it can't escape comparisons to the movies it borrows from, Cliffhanger is a tense, action-packed thriller and a showcase for the talents that made Sylvester Stallone a star.
A Rocky Mountain rescue expert (Sylvester Stallone) has retired because of his role in a woman's death, but the kidnapping... [More]
Adjusted Score: 105.878%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to a script that emphasizes its heroes' humanity and a wealth of superpowered set pieces, The Avengers lives up to its hype and raises the bar for Marvel at the movies.
Marvel Studios presents Marvel's The Avengers-the Super Hero team up of a lifetime, featuring iconic Marvel Super Heroes Iron Man,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97.796%
Critics Consensus: The brilliant minds behind Shaun of the Dead successfully take a shot at the buddy cop genre with Hot Fuzz. The result is a bitingly satiric and hugely entertaining parody.
A top London cop who is so good at his job that he makes his fellow officers look like slackers... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92.988%
Critics Consensus: As violent as it is stylish, The Warriors is a thrilling piece of pulp filmmaking.
Walter Hill's hip, super-stylized action film unfurls in a dystopian near-future, when various gangs control New York City. Each gang... [More]
Adjusted Score: 67.603%
Critics Consensus: A fun movie...if you can accept the excessive gore and wooden acting.
Paul Verhoeven has fashioned a visually spectacular, morbidly funny comic book adventure that seems to merge the fresh-faced youths of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93.602%
Critics Consensus: Elite Squad: The Enemy Within is a bleak, violent descent into the Brazilian underbelly, ripping into the favelas with unstoppable and kinetic force.
The sprawling slum that towers over Rio de Janeiro is one of the most dangerous places on Earth, and as... [More]
Adjusted Score: 73.178%
Critics Consensus: Absurd, over-the-top, and often wildly entertaining, Point Break is here to show you that the human spirit is still alive.
Kathryn Bigelow's fourth action film follows FBI agent Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) as he goes undercover to infiltrate a cache... [More]
Adjusted Score: 72.772%
Critics Consensus: Smart, sharp-witted, and fueled by enjoyably over-the-top action, The Long Kiss Goodnight makes up in impact what it lacks in consistent aim.
The comfortably drab life of a working mom becomes a nightmare when she finds herself pursued by an assassin who... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95.059%
Critics Consensus: Boasting enough intelligence to bolster its darkly violent thrills, The Guest offers another treat for genre fans from director Adam Wingard.
From the director of YOU'RE NEXT and featuring a standout, badass performance from Dan Stevens ("Downton Abbey"), comes THE GUEST:... [More]
Adjusted Score: 63.386%
Critics Consensus: Taken is undeniably fun with slick action, but is largely a brainless exercise.
An ex-soldier (Liam Neeson) traveling through Europe embarks on a frantic quest to rescue his daughter (Maggie Grace) after the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 68.904%
Critics Consensus: A simple-minded but visually exciting experience, full of blood, violence, and ready-made movie quotes.
Sin City author Frank Miller's sweeping take on the historic Battle of Thermopylae comes to the screen courtesy of Dawn... [More]
Adjusted Score: 73.894%
Critics Consensus: If it doesn't reach the heights of director James Cameron's and star Arnold Schwarzenegger's previous collaborations, True Lies still packs enough action and humor into its sometimes absurd plot to entertain.
Borrowing liberally from the French film La Totale, this is an action picture, domestic comedy, and political thriller rolled into... [More]
Adjusted Score: 62.936%
Critics Consensus: A better-than-average sci-fi shoot-em-up with a satirical undercurrent, Demolition Man is bolstered by strong performances by Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, and Sandra Bullock.
The plot of this action film begins in 1996, with Los Angeles in a violence-crazed conflagration. One of the LAPD's... [More]
Adjusted Score: 56.174%
Critics Consensus: Hardcore Henry seems poised to reinvent the action flick, but without a story or characters worth caring about, its first-person gimmick quickly loses its thrill.
Strap in. Hardcore Henry is one of the most unflinchingly original wild-rides to hit the big screen in a long... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94.466%
Critics Consensus: Blending brilliant physical comedy with thrillingly choreographed set pieces, Police Story makes a persuasive case for Jackie Chan as one of the all-time genre greats.
This was internationally famous Jackie Chan's breakthrough action film, the work that got him past the ethnic boundaries of Hong... [More]
Adjusted Score: 76.663%
Critics Consensus: Brotherhood of the Wolf mixes its genres with little logic, but the end result is wildly entertaining.
French legend has it that a creature known as the Beast of Gevaudan -- a huge, wolf-like monster -- was... [More]
Adjusted Score: 83.925%
Critics Consensus: Stylish, subversive, and above all fun, Kingsman: The Secret Service finds director Matthew Vaughn sending up the spy genre with gleeful abandon.
Based upon the acclaimed comic book and directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick Ass, X-Men First Class), Kingsman: The Secret Service... [More]
Adjusted Score: 73.818%
Critics Consensus: Visually inventive and gleefully over the top, Luc Besson's The Fifth Element is a fantastic piece of pop sci-fi that never takes itself too seriously.
Good and evil battle for the future of 23rd century Earth in this visually striking big-budget science fiction epic. In... [More]
Adjusted Score: 81.814%
Critics Consensus: Brimming with energy and packed with humor, Big Trouble in Little China distills kung fu B-movies as affectionately as it subverts them.
Playing in a manner that can be conservatively described as larger than life, Kurt Russell plays a macho truck driver... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93.307%
Critics Consensus: Atomic Blonde gets enough mileage out of its stylish action sequences -- and ever-magnetic star -- to make up for a narrative that's somewhat less hard-hitting than its protagonist.
A high-stakes, global action-thriller that takes place in the city of Berlin, on the eve of the Wall's collapse and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 83.216%
Critics Consensus: An entertaining Jackie Chan stunt-fest in which the impressive action sequences overcome the low production value and by-the-numbers plot.
After years as a major star in most of the rest of the world, Jackie Chan finally broke through to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 83.528%
Critics Consensus: A nonstop thrill ride, District B13's dizzying action sequences more than make up for any expository flaws.
A nuclear weapon has been stolen by the most powerful gang in Paris' treacherous, walled-in ghetto, and it's up to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 85.751%
Critics Consensus: The buddy cop movie continues its evolution unabated with this Eddie Murphy vehicle that's fast, furious, and funny.
What's that wisecracking young black guy (Eddie Murphy) in that beat-up Chevy Nova doing in lily-white Beverly Hills? He's Axel... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88.152%
Critics Consensus: While Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior may be no great shakes as a movie, critics are hailing the emergence of a new star in Tony Jaa, whose athletic performance is drawing comparisons with Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li.
Exhilarating fight sequences highlight this action-packed martial-arts adventure about an orphan (Tony Jaa) who embarks on a quest to recover... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92.721%
Critics Consensus: Driven by director Michael Mann's trademark visuals and a lean, villainous performance from Tom Cruise, Collateral is a stylish and compelling noir thriller.
A taxi driver is unexpectedly taken on the ride of his life in this stylish thriller from acclaimed director Michael... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93.661%
Critics Consensus: Iron Monkey may not have the poetic lyricism of Crouching Tiger, it makes up for it in fun and energy.
This kung fu classic weaving fact and myth earned a theatrical release in the U.S. from Miramax eight years after... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90.956%
Critics Consensus: Featuring an atmospherically grimy futuristic metropolis, Escape from New York is a strange, entertaining jumble of thrilling action and oddball weirdness.
It's 1997 and Manhattan has been turned into a maximum security prison. When the United States president crash lands into... [More]
Adjusted Score: 89.008%
Critics Consensus: Battle Royale is a controversial and violent parable of adolescence, heightening teenage melodrama with life-or-death stakes.
A long-unavailable underground hit that anticipated The Hunger Games novels by eight years, veteran director Fukasaku's epically violent, still-controversial and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101.008%
Critics Consensus: Boasting an entertaining villain and deeper emotional focus, this is a nimble sequel that improves upon the original.
Stan Lee's all-too-human superhero returns to the screen in this highly anticipated sequel to 2002's blockbuster hit Spider-Man. Peter Parker... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98.627%
Critics Consensus: Takashi Miike's electric remake of Eiichi Kudo's 1963 period action film is a wild spectacle executed with killer, dizzying panache.
Cult director Takeshi Miike (Ichi the Killer, Audition) delivers a bravado period action film set at the end of Japan's... [More]
Adjusted Score: 60.946%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Another entry into the "cheer for the most likeable bad guy" series of Hong Kong action flicks, Full Contact tells... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93.515%
Critics Consensus: Lighter and more comedic than its predecessor, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade returns the series to the brisk serial adventure of Raiders, while adding a dynamite double act between Harrison Ford and Sean Connery.
The third installment in the Spielberg/Lucas Indiana Jones saga, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade evokes many of the thrills... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96.227%
Critics Consensus: Kung Fu Hustle blends special effects, martial arts, and the Looney Toons to hilarious effect.
The work of international superstar Stephen Chow, Kung Fu Hustle is a humorous, special-effects-filled, action-packed martial arts epic set in... [More]
Adjusted Score: 44.878%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
John Woo established himself as one of Hong Kong's premiere action directors with this ultra-hip, ultra-violent action classic. The film... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104.836%
Critics Consensus: Powered by Robert Downey Jr.'s vibrant charm, Iron Man turbo-charges the superhero genre with a deft intelligence and infectious sense of fun.
Billionaire industrialist and genius inventor Tony Stark is kidnapped and forced to build a devastating weapon. Instead, using his intelligence... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90.44%
Critics Consensus: A bloody thrill ride designed to test the limits of more squeamish viewers, The Night Comes for Us wields a stylishly violent, action-packed punch.
The Night Comes For Us follows Ito (played by Joe Taslim), a former triad enforcer, and his mission to protect... [More]
Adjusted Score: 110.971%
Critics Consensus: Hugh Jackman makes the most of his final outing as Wolverine with a gritty, nuanced performance in a violent but surprisingly thoughtful superhero action film that defies genre conventions.
It's 2029. Mutants are gone--or very nearly so. An isolated, despondent Logan is drinking his days away in a hideout... [More]
Adjusted Score: 105.627%
Critics Consensus: Goldfinger is where James Bond as we know him comes into focus - it features one of 007's most famous lines ("A martini. Shaken, not stirred") and a wide range of gadgets that would become the series' trademark.
To many, the quintessential Bond film and a brilliant third entry in the series. Here Bond gets his Aston Martin,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.274%
Critics Consensus: Lean, taut and compellingly gritty, John Carpenter's loose update of Rio Bravo ranks as a cult action classic and one of the filmmaker's best.
Cops, secretaries, and prisoners stuck in a soon-to-be-shuttered L.A. police station fight off a horde of murderous gang members in... [More]
Adjusted Score: 112.946%
Critics Consensus: Thrilling, earnest, and buoyed by Gal Gadot's charismatic performance, Wonder Woman succeeds in spectacular fashion.
An Amazon princess (Gal Gadot) finds her idyllic life on an island occupied only by female warriors interrupted when a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 82.338%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Bruce Lee stars as a martial arts expert who vows vengeance when his kung fu master is murdered. He discovers... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.198%
Critics Consensus: Suspenseful and politically astute, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a superior entry in the Avengers canon and is sure to thrill Marvel diehards.
After being deemed unfit for military service, Steve Rogers volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into... [More]
Adjusted Score: 86.69%
Critics Consensus: Violent and definitely not for the squeamish, Park Chan-Wook's visceral Oldboy is a strange, powerful tale of revenge.
South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook directed this violent and offbeat story of punishment and vengeance. Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) is... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104.448%
Critics Consensus: Realistic, fast-paced and uncommonly smart, The French Connection is bolstered by stellar performances by Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider, not to mention William Friedkin's thrilling production.
This gritty, fast-paced, and innovative police drama earned five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay (written by Ernest... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92.518%
Critics Consensus: Serving up a fresh round of over-the-top thrills while adding unexpected dramatic heft, Furious 7 keeps the franchise moving in more ways than one.
Continuing the global exploits in the unstoppable franchise built on speed, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne Johnson lead the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90.602%
Critics Consensus: A zany out-of-control thriller that gives lead Anne Parillaud a big character arc and plenty of emotional room to work within.
The serpentine plotline of Luc Besson's La Femme Nikita begins its 117-minute slither when punkish, psychotic, and drug-ridden Nikita (Anne... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98.233%
Critics Consensus: Blending hand-to-hand combat with breathtaking stunts and slapstick comedy, Supercop reminds us why Jackie Chan is one of the world's great entertainers.
A Hong Kong detective fights to stop a Chinese drug czar.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93.71%
Critics Consensus: As tough and taciturn as its no-nonsense hero, Dirty Harry delivers a deceptively layered message without sacrificing an ounce of its solid action impact.
"You've got to ask yourself a question: 'do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?" Dirty Harry provoked a critical... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104.166%
Critics Consensus: Gripping, well-acted, funny, and clever, Edge of Tomorrow offers entertaining proof that Tom Cruise is still more than capable of shouldering the weight of a blockbuster action thriller.
The epic action of "Edge of Tomorrow" unfolds in a near future in which an alien race has hit the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92.185%
Critics Consensus: Tightly scripted, solidly acted, and impressively ambitious, X2: X-Men United is bigger and better than its predecessor -- and a benchmark for comic sequels in general.
When a failed assassination attempt occurs on the President's (Cotter Smith) life by the teleporting mutant Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming), it's... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.048%
Critics Consensus: Exhilarating and intense, this high-impact chase thriller is a model of taut and efficient formula filmmaking, and it features Harrison Ford at his frantic best.
This 1993 box-office smash partly adheres to the 1960s TV series on which it is based and partly goes off... [More]
Adjusted Score: 118.686%
Critics Consensus: Black Panther elevates superhero cinema to thrilling new heights while telling one of the MCU's most absorbing stories -- and introducing some of its most fully realized characters.
"Black Panther" follows T'Challa who, after the events of "Captain America: Civil War," returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98.305%
Critics Consensus: Smart, innovative, and thrilling, Inception is that rare summer blockbuster that succeeds viscerally as well as intellectually.
Visionary filmmaker Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight) writes and directs this psychological sci-fi action film about a thief who... [More]
Adjusted Score: 83.285%
Critics Consensus: Distractingly violent and historically dodgy, Mel Gibson's Braveheart justifies its epic length by delivering enough sweeping action, drama, and romance to match its ambition.
Mel Gibson, long-time heartthrob of the silver screen, came into his own as a director with Braveheart, an account of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97.387%
Critics Consensus: Thought-provoking and visceral, Steven Spielberg successfully combines high concept ideas and high octane action in this fast and febrile sci-fi thriller.
Based on a short story by the late Philip K. Dick, this science fiction-thriller reflects the writer's familiar preoccupation with... [More]
Adjusted Score: 117.99%
Critics Consensus: Exciting, entertaining, and emotionally impactful, Avengers: Endgame does whatever it takes to deliver a satisfying finale to Marvel's epic Infinity Saga.
The grave course of events set in motion by Thanos that wiped out half the universe and fractured the Avengers... [More]
Adjusted Score: 84.835%
Critics Consensus: Fueled by bombastic violence and impressive special effects, rooted in self-satire and deadpan humor, Dredd 3D does a remarkable job of capturing its source material's gritty spirit.
The future America is an irradiated waste land. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies Mega... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88.324%
Critics Consensus: Expertly blending genre formula with bursts of unexpected wit, The Bourne Identity is an action thriller that delivers -- and then some.
The best-selling suspense novel by late author Robert Ludlum comes to the screen for a second time, following a 1988... [More]
Adjusted Score: 79.105%
Critics Consensus: At once beholden to the established conventions of the genre and delightfully subversive of them, Ip Man is one of the most exciting -- and refreshingly character-driven -- martial arts films in years.
Wing Chun grandmaster Ip has an amazing wife, plenty of money, the most beautiful house in town, and a blossoming... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97.257%
Critics Consensus: John Travolta and Nicolas Cage play cat-and-mouse (and literally play each other) against a beautifully stylized backdrop of typically elegant, over-the-top John Woo violence.
The third of John Woo's American-made feature films, Face/Off stars John Travolta as Sean Archer, an FBI agent obsessed with... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93.083%
Critics Consensus: With coke fiends, car chases, and Wang Chung galore, To Live and Die in L.A. is perhaps the ultimate '80s action/thriller.
William Friedkin's crime thriller, based on a book by U.S. Secret Service agent Gerald Petievich, concerns an arrogant Secret Service... [More]
Adjusted Score: 107.423%
Critics Consensus: Dark, complex, and unforgettable, The Dark Knight succeeds not just as an entertaining comic book film, but as a richly thrilling crime saga.
Christopher Nolan steps back into the director's chair for this sequel to Batman Begins, which finds the titular superhero coming... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101.862%
Critics Consensus: Stylish, fast-paced, and loaded with gripping set pieces, the fourth Mission: Impossible is big-budget popcorn entertainment that really works.
This is not just another mission. The IMF is shut down when it's implicated in a global terrorist bombing plot.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 83.154%
Critics Consensus: Sleek, loud, and over the top, Fast Five proudly embraces its brainless action thrills and injects new life into the franchise.
Former cop Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) partners with ex-con Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) on the opposite side of the law.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 85.362%
Critics Consensus: The most successful installment in a phenomenally successful series, Lethal Weapon helped redefine action movies for the 1980s and 1990s.
L.A. cop Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson), whose wife has recently died, is a loose cannon with a seeming death wish.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 69.31%
Critics Consensus: For visceral thrills, it can't be beat. Just don't expect The Rock to engage your brain.
The sophomore film from former music video and commercial director Michael Bay, this fast-paced action yarn featured rapid-fire editing, a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95.397%
Critics Consensus: While over-the-top and gory, Robocop is also a surprisingly smart sci-fi flick that uses ultraviolence to disguise its satire of American culture.
In near-future Detroit, a murdered police officer is resurrected as an experimental crime-fighting cyborg named Robocop. Tormented by memories of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100.54%
Critics Consensus: John Wick: Chapter 2 does what a sequel should -- which in this case means doubling down on the non-stop, thrillingly choreographed action that made its predecessor so much fun.
In this next chapter following the 2014 hit, legendary hitman John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is forced back out of retirement... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104.031%
Critics Consensus: Casino Royale disposes of the silliness and gadgetry that plagued recent James Bond outings, and Daniel Craig delivers what fans and critics have been waiting for: a caustic, haunted, intense reinvention of 007.
James Bond's first 007 mission takes him to Madagascar, where he is to spy on a terrorist Mollaka. Not everything... [More]
Adjusted Score: 108.593%
Critics Consensus: Stylish, exciting, and fueled by a killer soundtrack, Baby Driver hits the road and it's gone -- proving fast-paced action movies can be smartly written without sacrificing thrills.
A talented, young getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) relies on the beat of his personal soundtrack to be the best in... [More]
Adjusted Score: 76.36%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Jet Li stars in this historical Hong Kong action film, as Chen Zhen, a Chinese student in Japan in the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100.619%
Critics Consensus: The Killer is another hard-boiled action flick from John Woo featuring eye-popping balletic violence and philosophical underpinnings.
Chow Yun-Fat, director John Woo's favorite actor, stars as a professional assassin. The moral outrages of his employers lead Yun-Fat,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87.655%
Critics Consensus: Although its high-energy plot and over-the-top violence may play better with genre aficionados, The Raid 2 definitely delivers more of everything audiences loved about its predecessor.
He thought it was over. After fighting his way out of a building filled with gangsters and madmen - a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 99.192%
Critics Consensus: Badass to the max, Enter the Dragon is the ultimate kung-fu movie and fitting (if untimely) Bruce Lee swan song.
One of the most popular kung fu films ever, and perhaps the peak of the famed Bruce Lee's career, Enter... [More]
Adjusted Score: 73.083%
Critics Consensus: The ultimate '80s Schwarzenegger movie, replete with a threadbare plot, outsized action, and endless one-liners.
Colonel Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is retired and living peaceably with his 10-year-old daughter (Alyssa Milano) when she is kidnapped by... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88.957%
Critics Consensus: Much darker and more sensitive than the sequels it spawned, First Blood is a thrilling survival adventure that takes full advantage of Sylvester Stallone's acting skills.
A former Green Beret must use all of the guerrilla tactics he learned in Vietnam to save himself after he... [More]
Adjusted Score: 105.636%
Critics Consensus: Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation continues the franchise's thrilling resurgence -- and proves that Tom Cruise remains an action star without equal.
With the IMF disbanded, and Ethan (Tom Cruise) out in the cold, the team now faces off against a network... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104.962%
Critics Consensus: With its impressive action sequences, taut economic direction, and relentlessly fast pace, it's clear why The Terminator continues to be an influence on sci-fi and action flicks.
A Cyborg has been sent from the future on a deadly mission, it has been programmed to kill a young... [More]
Adjusted Score: 84.281%
Critics Consensus: Ridley Scott and an excellent cast successfully convey the intensity of Roman gladitorial combat as well as the political intrigue brewing beneath.
A man robbed of his name and his dignity strives to win them back, and gain the freedom of his... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.916%
Critics Consensus: Kill Bill is admittedly little more than a stylish revenge thriller -- albeit one that benefits from a wildly inventive surfeit of style.
An entire wedding party is slaughtered during a dress rehearsal in a rural chapel: the pregnant woman in the blood-splattered... [More]
Adjusted Score: 77.963%
Critics Consensus: Pivoting on the unusual relationship between seasoned hitman and his 12-year-old apprentice -- a breakout turn by young Natalie Portman -- Luc Besson's Léon is a stylish and oddly affecting thriller.
As visually stylish as it is graphically violent, this thriller directed by Luc Besson concerns Mathilda (Natalie Portman), a 12-year-old... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97.963%
Critics Consensus: A terrific popcorn thriller, Speed is taut, tense, and energetic, with outstanding performances from Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, and Sandra Bullock.
If you don't think Speed is the fastest-moving adventure film ever made, we challenge you to find a faster one.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87.88%
Critics Consensus: Jackie Chan sends up some amazing and entertaining fight sequences in The Legend of Drunken Master.
Jackie Chan returns in one of his greatest roles in this action-comedy sequel to his 1978 Hong Kong blockbuster Drunken... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95.459%
Critics Consensus: Stylish, thrilling, and giddily kinetic, John Wick serves as a satisfying return to action for Keanu Reeves -- and what looks like it could be the first of a franchise.
An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him. With New York City... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.051%
Critics Consensus: The movie that catapulted Ang Lee into the ranks of upper echelon Hollywood filmmakers, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon features a deft mix of amazing martial arts battles, beautiful scenery, and tasteful drama.
Taiwanese filmmaker Ang Lee took a break from making Western period dramas to fashion this wild and woolly martial arts... [More]
Adjusted Score: 84.515%
Critics Consensus: Predator: Part sci-fi, part horror, part action -- all muscle.
Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has a code of honor which he will not violate, even when his life depends on it.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101.127%
Critics Consensus: The Bourne Ultimatum is an intelligent, finely tuned non-stop thrill ride. Another strong performance from Matt Damon and sharp camerawork from Paul Greengrass make this the finest installment of the Bourne trilogy.
Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) races to solve the mystery of his past while being hunted by members of the very... [More]
Adjusted Score: 85.864%
Critics Consensus: Under Paul Verhoeven's frenetic direction, Total Recall is a fast-paced rush of violence, gore, and humor that never slacks.
In Paul Verhoeven's wild sci-fi action movie Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a 21st-century construction worker who discovers that his... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96.852%
Critics Consensus: The Road Warrior is everything a bigger-budgeted Mad Max sequel with should be: bigger, faster, louder, but definitely not dumber.
Director George Miller's follow-up to his own 1979 hit Mad Max is proof that not all sequels are inferior to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92.362%
Critics Consensus: Though Al Pacino and Robert De Niro share but a handful of screen minutes together, Heat is an engrossing crime drama that draws compelling performances from its stars -- and confirms Michael Mann's mastery of the genre.
A successful career criminal considers getting out of the business after one last score, while an obsessive cop desperately tries... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.918%
Critics Consensus: No frills and all thrills, The Raid: Redemption is an inventive action film expertly paced and edited for maximum entertainment.
As a rookie member of an elite special-forces team, Rama (Iko Uwais) is instructed to hang back during a covert... [More]
Adjusted Score: 115.831%
Critics Consensus: Fast, sleek, and fun, Mission: Impossible - Fallout lives up to the "impossible" part of its name by setting yet another high mark for insane set pieces in a franchise full of them.
The best intentions often come back to haunt you. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT finds Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101.445%
Critics Consensus: Featuring bravura set pieces, sly humor, and white-knuckle action, Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the most consummately entertaining adventure pictures of all time.
Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is no ordinary archeologist. When we first see him, he is somewhere in the Peruvian jungle... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104.131%
Critics Consensus: While Alien was a marvel of slow-building, atmospheric tension, Aliens packs a much more visceral punch, and features a typically strong performance from Sigourney Weaver.
Big-budget special effects, swiftly paced action, and a distinct feminist subtext from writer/director James Cameron turned what should have been... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96.117%
Critics Consensus: Boasting impactful action as well as surprising emotional resonance, Hard Boiled is a powerful thriller that hits hard in more ways than one.
Yun-Fat portrays a maverick, clarinet-playing cop nicknamed "Tequila" whose partner is killed in the dizzying chaos of a restaurant gunfight... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94.903%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to the Wachowskis' imaginative vision, The Matrix is a smartly crafted combination of spectacular action and groundbreaking special effects.
What if virtual reality wasn't just for fun, but was being used to imprison you? That's the dilemma that faces... [More]
Adjusted Score: 99.109%
Critics Consensus: T2 features thrilling action sequences and eye-popping visual effects, but what takes this sci-fi/ action landmark to the next level is the depth of the human (and cyborg) characters.
A sequel to the sci-fi action thriller that made him and star Arnold Schwarzenegger A-list Hollywood names, writer/director James Cameron... [More]
Adjusted Score: 99.761%
Critics Consensus: Its many imitators (and sequels) have never come close to matching the taut thrills of the definitive holiday action classic.
It's Christmas time in L.A., and there's an employee party in progress on the 30th floor of the Nakatomi Corporation... [More]
Adjusted Score: 113.743%
Critics Consensus: With exhilarating action and a surprising amount of narrative heft, Mad Max: Fury Road brings George Miller's post-apocalyptic franchise roaring vigorously back to life.
Filmmaker George Miller gears up for another post-apocalyptic action adventure with Fury Road, the fourth outing in the Mad Max... [More]