The 10 Best Action Movies Ever Made
Admit it, you like action movies.
Yes, there's plenty of trash—the Fast & Furious franchise does exist after all—but when done right, there's no genre that can deliver quite the same level of visceral, boiling-point joy as a quality action flick.
Here we present unto you the seminal list of the all-time great action movies; the sweatiest, sweariest, downright f*****g maddest blockbusters to ever grace the big screen.
In this unapologetically insane film, it's 2084 and a New York construction worker—played by Arnie with an untouched Austrian accent—begins having wild dreams of Mars. He ultimately decides to have false memories of the red planet implanted in his brain by a shady corporation...but something goes wrong, and before you know it he's scrapping for his life in a series of to-the-death encounters, each one more outlandish than the last, all while searching for his true identity.
Pithy lines, three-breasted prostitutes and existential chaos; what more could you possibly want?
Mad Max: Fury Road
Yeah, the new one: Mad Max: Fury Road is a chest-thumping, hyper-stylized 120 minute car chase of the highest order. Featuring a mute Tom Hardy, who still somehow kills it in the role of Max; as well as Charlize Theron as the hard-as-nails central protagonist Furiosa, on the run from a tyrannical slave master in a post-apocalyptic desert kingdom.
Just remember to breath.
Arguably the best Christmas movie of all time, too (but that's another discussion for another day), Die Hard sees Bruce Willis and his fading hairline (R.I.P), take down a terrorist organisation almost single-handedly.
Also features one of the genre's defining ventilation duct scenes.
The high watermark of the Hong Kong cop flick, Hard Boiled is a tightly-woven, neon-drenched descent into a world of police shootouts, gun smuggling and double-crossing. It's two hours long, but flies by—the true sign of a great action film.
It can also be credited with much of the martial arts elements later adopted by western action films, which is cool.
In all of his modern slapstick insanity, it's easy to forget that there was once a time when Nic Cage made undeniably unique and entertaining films, of which Con Air was one...even if it is totally ridiculous.
Trapped aboard a U.S. Military plane with some of the world's worst criminals, our man Nic must survive a violent escape plot, hatched by bloody John Malkovich of all people, if he wants to return to his wife in one piece.
*single tear rolls down face.
The mach daddy of all action films (just edging the second in the series for us), Arnie was born to play the eponymous cyborg with a cold disregard for any and all human life, sent back from the future to kill the unborn son of Sarah Connor.
That leather trench, too.
Liam Neeson's daughter is kidnapped in Paris, and you better believe he's angry about it.
Yeah, all those riffs on that "I will find you monologue" were pretty annoying, but it's hard to argue agains the impact that Taken had on the genre; spawning as it did 1,000 even cheaper knockoffs all trying to capture its frenetic formula.
Rambo: First Blood
Playing a PTSD-ridden 'Nam vet with a quick temper and an even quicker trigger finger, Sly's later efforts as John Rambo may have devolved into the absurd, but the first in the series was a`hyper-violent, claustrophobic winner that employed a masterful use of the flashback.
Flashbacks to Sly, in the jungle, with his shirt off; blood in his eyes and Commies to kill.
Oft-forgotten in the Harrison Ford canon, creaking as it is beneath the weight of Solo, Indy and Blade Runner, Fugitive is, nevertheless, a classic action movie that takes you, dear viewer, on one hell of a ride.
Wrongly accused of killing his wife (Harrison wouldn't do that, man!), Ford must escape the law and find the TRUE killer if he wishes to clear his good name.
There are some hurdles, obviously.
One. Last. Big. Heist...at least that was the plan for Robert De Niro's master criminal in Heat.
The only time De Niro and Pacino—who plays the detective tasked with bringing Bobby D down—have (properly) met on screen, Heat stands out from the pack thanks to its ability to balance the human minutiae of Pacino's unravelling home life, while also delivering some of the wildest, explodiest gun fights and set-pieces in the history of the genre.
It's worth watching for that diner scene alone.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.