There’s nothing that can suck an audience into a movie quite like a thrilling action sequence. Whether it be a shootout, car chase, or fist fight, an action scene can quickly establish the good guys from the bad. As a result, the movie can have the audience rooting for the hero long before the story has even begun.
This is just one of the many reasons why action movies are always some of the biggest movies of the year. After all, many people go to the theater for a much-needed escape, and action movies often provide the right amount of spectacle and adventure to do so.
Last year alone, the top five highest-grossing movies all fell into the action genre. These included Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Incredibles 2, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and Deadpool 2. In other words, superhero movies continue to reign supreme. But they’re far from the only action movies worth watching.
It’s been a few years since we’ve gotten a new James Bond film, but each installment usually ends up being a massive hit. And while 007 may be the star of this long-running action franchise, we certainly can't forget about the long list of Bond Girls who have helped (and hindered) 007 throughout his missions.
So let's pick or pass on these action movies to match with a Bond Girl!
Mad Max: Fury Road:
Often ranked amongst the greatest action movies ever made, Mad Max: Fury Road was released in 2015, where it would go on to be one of the best-reviewed pictures of the year. The film served as a reboot to the original Mad Max series starring Mel Gibson. Once again, George Miller served as a director on the film. Fury Road follows the titular character as he attempts to survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where water and other resources are extremely scarce (Wikipedia).
Mission: Impossible — Fallout:
The latest installment of this popular action series, Mission: Impossible — Fallout was released in July of 2018. It’s the sixth film in the franchise to date, which once again follows IMF Agent Ethan Hunt, this time, as he attempts to track something down while being carefully watched by the CIA. Fallout featured a number of series regulars, including Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, and Michelle Monaghan, as well as newcomer Henry Cavill. The film managed to achieve an impressive 97% on Rotten Tomatoes (Wikipedia). So would you watch it?
Though she is largely known as a dramatic actor, Charlize Theron is quickly becoming one of the biggest female actions stars of today thanks to her roles in movies like Mad Max: Fury Road, The Fate of the Furious, and Atomic Blonde. This 2017 film finds Theron tackling the role of Lorraine Broughton, an MI6 agent on an undercover mission. The film received praise for its dazzling action sequences, many of which found the actress performing her own stunts. A sequel is currently in the works (Wikipedia).
Terminator 2: Judgement Day:
Often considered the best installment of the Terminator series, T2: Judgement Day was released back in July of 1991. James Cameron once again served as a writer and director on the film after he helped bring the series to life with the 1984 original. The film centers around the T-800 from the first film, who is once again sent back in time. But this time around, he’s actually tasked with protecting Sarah Conner and her son, which really throws the family for a loop (Wikipedia).
Released in June of 2018, Baby Driver follows a getaway driver and his attempt to escape his life of crime after falling in love with a waitress. The film featured Ansel Elgort in the title role, and the remainder of the cast had no shortage of stars, including John Hamm, Jaime Foxx, and Jon Bernthal. The film was written and directed by Edgar Wright, who is probably best known for his Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy. Baby Driver was a critical and commercial success, grossing over a quarter billion dollars against a $34 million budget (Wikipedia).
Released in 1999, The Matrix managed to massively shake up the action genre, which was largely thanks to the films cutting edge effects — which have managed to hold up remarkably well by today’s standards. The film stars Keanu Reeves as Thomas Anderson, AKA Neo, a computer programmer and hacker who learns that our reality is a simulation. The film was directed by the Wachowskis, who have gone on to direct a number of sci-fi films, including Cloud Atlas and Jupiter Ascending (Wikipedia).
Captain America: Civil War:
Falling into the action subcategory of a superhero movie, Captain America: Civil War was the third installment of the Captain America series and the thirteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film was praised for its story and acting, and once again, the action sequences were also well regarded. Many were particularly fond of the airport battle scene, which found the Avengers fracturing off into two sides and fighting against each other. This was also the first MCU film to feature both Spider-Man and Black Panther (Wikipedia).
The premise of Speed is exceedingly simple, which involves a public transportation bus that’s rigged to detonate should it drop below 55 miles per hour. But the success of this action movie really came in the execution — which had critics and audiences alike sitting on the edge of their seat during this two-hour thrill ride. Speed stars Keanu Reeves as an LAPD cop who willingly boards the bus to try and save the passengers, one of whom is played by Sandra Bullock in her breakout role (Wikipedia).
Based on the limited comic book series by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley, 300 is inspired by the true story of a small army of Spartan troops who made a stand against the advancing Persian forces. The film was co-written and directed by Zack Snyder, who heavily employed the use of blue screens and computer-generated imagery to make the film look like its source material. The film was made on a budget of $65 million, but went on to earn over $456 million worldwide, making it a massive success among audiences (Wikipedia).
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl:
There have been so many Pirates of the Caribbean movies released to date that it’s easy to forget just how big The Curse of the Black Pearl was upon original release. Despite the film’s unusual theme park ride premise, this action-adventure was a massive critical and commercial success, which grossed over $654 million worldwide while earning a 79% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Johnny Depp was even nominated for an Academy Award thanks to his performance as the now iconic Captain Jack Sparrow (Wikipedia).
Raiders of the Lost Ark:
The first film in the Indiana Jones series, Raiders of the Lost Ark was released in June of 1981. The film stars Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, an archaeologist who is on a quest to discover the Ark of the Covenant, which the enemy forces of World War II are also seeking out. The film was a massive critical and commercial success, which has spawned three sequels to date — all directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Ford. A fifth film is currently in the works (Wikipedia).
It’s been almost a decade since Avatar was originally released, and this sci-fi action film remains the highest-grossing movie of all time by far. The film was written and directed by James Cameron, who beat out his previous box office record held by Titanic. The film follows a disabled Marine who is able to inhabit the body of one of the Na’vi — a race of aliens living on the moon Pandora. Four sequels to the film are currently in the works, with the first expected out in 2020 (Wikipedia).
One of the first films to find Tom Cruise as an action hero, Top Gun was released back in May of 1986. The film follows a group of Navy pilots training at a prestigious base in Southern California. The film was directed by Tony Scott, who went on to direct a number of other successful action films, including Enemy of the State, Man on Fire, and Deja Vu. Cruise plays the lead character of LT Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a role which he is expected to reprise in the long-awaited sequel (Wikipedia).
The third James Bond film to star Daniel Craig, Skyfall was released in 2012 to critical acclaim. The film went on to gross over a billion dollars at the worldwide box office, along with earning a 92% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film found James Bond finally cracking under the pressure of being a super spy, this time while he’s forced to face off against a former MI6 operative names Raoul Silva. The film was directed by Sam Mendes, who would go on to direct another Bond film with 2015’s Spectre (Wikipedia).
The first live-action film to feature this iconic team of DC heroes, Justice League was released in November of 2017. The film features no shortage of action, as the heroes Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg, and the Flash attempt to save the world from the villain Steppenwolf. These action sequences were amongst one of the most praised aspects of the film, as Justice League also had its fair share of shortcoming according to many critics. The film grossed only $657.9 million against a production budget of $300 million, likely resulting in a major loss for the studio (Wikipedia).
Though it may not be particularly well-known to mainstream audiences, Point Break has become somewhat of a cult classic for action movie buffs. The film was released back in 1991 and stars Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze as the two lead characters. Here, Reeves plays the rookie FBI Agent Johnny Utah, who decided to go undercover to infiltrate a group of surfers and adrenaline junkies who he believes may be the culprits of a string of bank robberies (Wikipedia). So would you watch it?
After completing work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson immediately went to work on this 2005 film. King Kong is based on the 1993 classic, which was one of the movies that inspired Jackson to be a filmmaker from the very beginning. The updated version had no shortage of action and impressive special effects, especially Andy Serkis’ motion caption performance of the eponymous ape. King Kong became one of the highest-grossing films during the year of its release (Wikipedia).
Serving as a homage to the action genre, Hot Fuzz once again found actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost teaming up — this time to play a pair of mismatched cops in this buddy comedy. The film was directed by Edgar Wright, and Hot Fuzz would go on to become the second installment of the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy. The film featured no shortages of references to other action movies, making it a favorite amongst many action buffs. But that’s not to say that Hot Fuzz didn’t turn out to be an original movie in its own right (Wikipedia).
Loosely based on the short story by Philip K. Dick, this 2002 sci-fi action film follows Tom Cruise as John Anderton, a cop who is in charge of arresting criminals before they even commit the crime. But things grow exponentially complicated when Anderton’s name pops up as a future offender. The film was directed by Steven Spielberg, who would go on to team up with Cruise again for the 2005 science fiction film War of the Worlds. Minority Report currently holds a 91% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (Wikipedia).
Thanks to the release of this 2008 film, Liam Neeson enjoyed a bit of a career revitalization, which resulting in him popping up in a number of action movies since. The film followed a former CIA agent who must spring into action when his daughter is taken while visiting a foreign country. The Pierre Morel-directed film ended up being a surprise hit, resulting in a worldwide gross of over $226 million. Taken would also go on to spawn two sequels, both starring Neeson (Wikipedia).
Men in Black:
One of the biggest movies of 1997, this sci-fi action comedy starred Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as two secret agents working to hide the existence of alien life from the human population. The film was made on a $90 million budget and went on to gross a very impressive $589 million at the worldwide box office. The film was also a favorite amongst critics, who praised the chemistry between the two leads as well as the film’s humor and action sequences. Two sequels were made, with a spin-off currently in the works (Wikipedia).
Yet another massive sci-fi action film, this 2010 picture found Leonardo DiCaprio teaming up with writer/ director Christopher Nolan for what was one of the most hotly anticipated movies of the decade. The film follows a team of dream thieves who are tasked with infiltrating their target’s brain and implanting an idea— which proves far harder than simply extracting information. The film grossed over $828 million against a $160 million budget, making it the fourth highest-grossing film of that year (Wikipedia).
Kingsman: The Secret Service:
Based on the Marvel comic book series, Kingsman: The Secret Service is a 2014 action-comedy starring Colin Firth and Taron Egerton. The film follows a young man who is recruited into a spy agency stationed in the United Kingdom. The film was co-written and directed by Matthew Vaughn, who has made his fair share of other action films with X-Men: First Class and Layer Cake. A sequel, titled Kingsman: The Gold Circle, was released in 2017, with a third installment currently in development (Wikipedia).
Based on the comic book series by Frank Miller, Sin City is a 2005 crime/ action movie directed by both Robert Rodriguez and Miller. The duo heavily employed the use of green screen to better capture the look of the film, which paid off in spades when Sin City went on to gross over $150 million against a $40 million budget. Most critics received the film positively as well, praising its overall look and neo-noir tone, resulting in Sin City currently holding a 77% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (Wikipedia).
One of the biggest movies of 2017, Thor: Ragnarok is the third installment of the Thor series and the seventeenth film overall of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film managed to give the God of Thunder a much-needed makeover, which resulted in a more colorful and humorous film than the previous two installments. The film was directed by Taika Waititi, who had previously directed the comedies What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Wikipedia). So would you watch it?
Gladiator is a 2000 film which centers around a Roman general who is captured and forced to fight for his life as a gladiator. Russell Crowe plays the lead character of Maximus Decimus Meridius in a performance which would win him the Oscar for Best Actor of the Year. Gladiator also ended up winning a number of other Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Visual Effects. The thrilling gladiator fights are what kept many people glued to the screen, as the film went on to gross over $460 against a $103 million budget (Wikipedia).
The fourth installment of the Predator film series was released in September of last year, where it would go on to gross over $160 million against an $88 million production budget. The film was co-written and directed by Shane Black, who appeared in the original 1987 film as the character Rick Hawkins. Unfortunately, on the critical side, The Predator did not perform as well as many would have hoped, resulting in this action movie earning only a 33% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (Wikipedia).
Based on the 1990 novel of the same name by Michael Crichton, this blockbuster film was brought to life on the big screen thanks to director Steven Spielberg. The film is set on a remote island, where dinosaurs have been successfully brought back to life under the hopes that they will be the main attraction at a new theme park. Inevitably, things go way off the rails in this sci-fi adventure film. Jurassic Park has spawned four sequels to date (Wikipedia).
The Bourne Identity:
The first installment of the Bourne action series was released back in 2002. It starred Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, an undercover operative whose memory has been wiped clean at the start of the story. The film was both a critical and commercial success, grossing $214 million worldwide and earning an 83% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Damon has reprised his role in numerous sequels since, while Jeremy Renner appeared in the 2012 spin-off The Bourne Legacy (Wikipedia). So would you watch the film that started it all?
Coming off the success of the buddy cop film Bad Boys, Will Smith starred in this 1996 film, which centered around a large scale alien invasion of Earth. The film was a massive hit, as Independence Day became the second highest-grossing movie ever released at that time with a worldwide box office over $817 million. The film also solidified Smith as leading man material, and he would go on to star in numerous big-budget action and sci-fi movies ever since (Wikipedia).
Set in the southern United States, Django Unchained tells the story of a former slave turned bounty hunter who’s on a mission to rescue his wife from the plantation owner, Calvin Candie. The film stars Jaime Foxx as the title character, while Leonardo DiCaprio serves as the story’s antagonist. The film was written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, who ended up winning the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the film. Meanwhile, Christopher Waltz won Best Supporting Actor for the film (Wikipedia).
Despite the onslaught of superhero movies in the last few decades, few of them have found a woman serving as the title character. And when they did — in movies such as Catwoman and Elektra — the films often ended up being a critical and commercial flop. That is until Wonder Woman was released in 2017. The film found Gal Gadot reprising her role as the iconic DC character after making her debut the year before in Batman v Superman. Wonder Woman went on to be one of the biggest movies of the year (Wikipedia).
One of the most renowned big screen martial artists of all-time, Jackie Chan played one of the two leads in this buddy cop film. He starred alongside Chris Tucker, and the two played police detectives from opposite ends of the world who are forced to work together to track down a girl. Rush Hour had no shortage of laughs and thrilling action scenes, many of which found Chan performing his own stunts. The film went on to spawn two successful sequels (Wikipedia).
Star Wars: The Force Awakens:
Released in 2015, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is one of only a few movies which has broken the $2 billion mark at the worldwide box office. The film served as a sequel to 1983’s Return of the Jedi and found series veterans Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill returning to portray their iconic roles. At the same time, an entirely new cast of characters was introduced to audiences, including Daisy Ridley’s Rey and John Boyega’s Finn. A sequel was released in 2017, with the third film in the trilogy set for 2019 release (Wikipedia).
The Fate of the Furious:
The eighth installment of the massively successful action series, The Fate of the Furious was released in April of 2017. The film featured the large cast of series regulars, including Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto and Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs. Meanwhile, Charlize Theron joined the cast to play the latest villain with her portrayal of the cybercriminal known as Cipher. The film was directed by F. Gary Gray, and The Fate of the Furious went on to gross over $1.2 billion at the worldwide box office (Wikipedia).