“I remember being on film sets when I was younger, and only men got to do the cool action movies. So I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll get to produce one day and get to do cool stuff too,’ which is what happened when we did ‘Charlie’s Angels.’ Starting my production company was a big turning point for me.”

-Drew Barrymore

“Whether I’m acting or making it, at the end of the day it’s telling the story; action, drama. You want the audience to feel it – the story, the action, the scene, or a particular shot. I just keep working on crafting my art, on how to make action movies.”
-Donnie Yen

Action films usually involve a very simple story, like bad guys against good guys, where most disagreements in the movie are resolved by physical force. What makes action movies so popular that it contains many martial arts moves, big explosions and cool gadgets. There are many stories of action movies, which were inspired by thriller movies and crime movies. The type of the “good guys” is different from movie to movie, but most Hollywood films are usually quite conservative and patriotic, and the bad guys used to be usually criminals or agents from foreign countries.

Actual trends in action film include a development toward more complex fight scenes in Western films. This trend is influenced by the huge success of Hong Kong action cinema in Asia and in Europe. Asian martial arts elements, as kung-fu and karate can now be found in a lot of non-Asian action films.

Take a look into the world of Hong Kong action cinema by reading this article by Film Inquiry

Now you can make a difference between the films that incline to physical, nippy fighting, such as The Transporter, and those that lean toward other common action film conventions (explosions, gunfire), such as Lethal Weapon, although most action movies are working with both elements, thus becoming a mix of the two genres.

Since we’re talking about genres, these are the sub-genres of action movies: Action drama, Buddy cop, Action comedy, Action thriller, Caper/heist, Die Hard, Science fiction action, Action horror.

Let’s check the top 6 action movies (according to our point of view):

6. White House Down

This film really should be fully appreciated by those who grew up on the vacuous Hollywood action movies of the 90’s, it is simply amazing that Roland Emmerich is still able to do a silly movie similar to the ones that were so successful in those days.

We can say that this movie is so stupid that it is brilliant. There’s a hero who turns from an average cop into a professional commando (Channing Tatum), who has to rescue the US president (Jamie Foxx), there is a World War provoking evil, enough explosions, a little girl swinging the presidential flag in slow motion, while Abraham Lincoln’s pocket watch saves a life!

Find more action and disaster films by Roland Emmerich on this list by Fandango

It is not entirely clear how seriously the creators meant all this, but when the boss asks the pillar of the secret services (Maggie Gyllenhaal) after a long shift:  how come that she is still awake, and she answers him with a pokerface  that “caffeine and patriotism, sir” then we start to understand that they may have even laugh a lot  during the film session.

5. Casino Royale

The Casino Royale is a great movie, which  introduced cleverly Daniel Craig‘s rough, tough, 21st-century James Bond, which is radically different from its predecessors. After the beginning we soon get the first ten-minute, frantic action orgy, a chase scene stitched with acrobatic elements in which Bond tries to catch his rival in Madagascar.

When the subject elegantly jumps over a window, the pursuer Bond crosses the wall, breaks down the concrete with a grasper and simply throws the empty gun at the guy’s head. So even though we have not heard a word yet from him, it is already clear that this Bond does not care about vodka martini, and does not mince, but always chooses the most effective means to achieve his goals.

It is therefore absurd when the unreasonably long film with it’s two and a half hours of play time will turn into a sniveling lover, but relax, at the end our zippy Bond is born with his carved face.

4. Kill Bill

In five minutes we meet more dead bodies in Kill Bill as a smaller city’s population. We may notch up the extraordinary brutality, the simplicity of the characters and the lack of sophisticated dialogues (event though the second part will compensate us in this regard, convincing those with higher expectations).

The point is that Kill Bill is an exceptional movie, a persuasive scintillation of a crazy director, since Quentin Tarantino is a film gobbler who is very enthusiastic about any motion picture.

Find out more about the Quentin Tarantino films by visiting this Genius.com page where you can find all the references in his films

He surfs easily between different genres to mix them into one single film. Thus became the first act of Kill Bill a visually impressive action, which is partly western, samurai movie, kung-fu movie and an anime which is based on a story of vengeance.

3. Premium Rush

One of the common dramaturgic solutions of action movies is the hero whose opponent is time – if he does not disarm in time the actual or metaphorical bomb, then he has to look out for squalls! And if the director’s clever, this countdown itself creates the basic tension.

In Premium Rush a New York bike messenger has to forward an envelope to a certain place until a certain moment, in addition the bad guys are always trying to take the carriage en route.

David Koepp (who was a co-writer of such films as Mission: Impossible and Jurassic Park) puts the countdown in the world of bike messengers who defy space and time ex officio anyway, and enhances the thrill with a nonlinear storytelling and a “what if” scenario.

Check out the full filmography of David Koepp on Metacritic if you want to learn more about him

We get a movie which shoots our adrenaline to the sky and which cheers us up and motivates us to bring out again our long time ago used bicycle for a ride. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is not an usual muscle colossus, which makes him more likeable besides her flexible girlfriend, Dania Ramirez.

2. Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim -superficially viewed- may seem to be an attractive  but otherwise ordinary robotic-monstrous action sci-fi, but it is far more than that. Dumber critics and spectators complained about the illogicality in the mechanism where two people control a robot, but it would be nonsense to look for logic in a film which is about monsters emerging from the depth of the Pacific Ocean sent by aliens to destroy the human race.

The idea of climbing into each other’s brains (even in the monsters’) is  typically derived from Guillermo del Toro’s thoughts, his films always have a psychological dimension, even if basically the point is that big-ass monsters and big robots fight with each other (preferably in water).

Guillermo del Toro is an Oscar-winning director with many other awards and nominations, check out his IMDB page and maybe you recognize some of his movies

Del Toro could not even deny bizarre scenes as the visit at the Hong Kong based Kaiju-dealer, who is played by the director’s favorite actor Ron Perlman.  And the film’s ironic winks are adorable too, as the cheesy story with Rinko Kikuchi’s red shoe and Ron Perlman popping up after the ending theme, who is looking for his shoes. But while the film is a little laughing at himself, the sincere joy of the monster staring little child dominates in it.

1. Heat

In this film, Robert De Niro is a bank robber, while Al Pacino is the cop. You could not find a more perfect film for these two icons on the movie screen than this tasteful action thriller. You can almost feel the electricity coming from them, as they focus with all their nerve fibers on overcoming each other.  Therefore, I can not say anything else apart from the fact that Heat is an outstanding piece of popular cinema. Both hero’s figures is developed and nuanced.

Their conversation in the café, when it turns out how many things in common the two of them have from the different sides, that both are obsessed with what they do, is unforgettable, but their encounter at the end of the film also belongs to the decisive cinematic experiences of many people.

Pacino and De Niro are  almost like mythical heroes of a Western movie, director Michael Mann however  takes care of not falling overboard – the film remains realistic through.  The only serious error may be the length of the film which tests our bottoms,

164 minutes of playing time is a bit long, but at the same time slow construction is the substantial property of Heat, in addition the professionally choreographed actions filled with a special suspense compensate maximally the accidental impatiences. It can be viewed more than once, thus it does not undeservedly throne… at the first place!

Thank you for reading this article about the best action movies of all time. We hope that you appreciated our selection. Our next article will be about the top 6 Western movies of all time.

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