Carrying on from our mammoth list of action movie greats, here are the next 10 entries in our countdown of 100 Action Movies You Must See!
60 – ‘Hitman: Agent 47’ (2015) / Stars: Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto. Director: Aleksander Bach.
Action movies can often divide fans of the genre, with many opinions being heaped upon particular movies. Some love certain titles, some hate the same titles. ‘Hitman: Agent 47’ is one of those movies. Released eight years after the last ‘Hitman’ movie, based on the very popular video game series, ‘Hitman: Agent 47’ attempts to reignite the character onto the big screen. While the last movie was considered a failed attempt, as to was the newest reboot. Given poor reviews, making nowhere near the money it deserved, and leaving any hopes for a sequel dashed, the movie has mostly been met with negativity. However, while I’m not a fan of the 2007 movie, ‘Hitman: Agent 47’ will never have anything but my total adoration. Excelling in every field the last movie failed, delivering breathtaking action sequences and boasting some incredible special effects, this is the Hitman movie I longed for. Starring Rupert Friend as the mysterious and deadly Agent 47, the movie follows our violent hero on a dangerous personal mission to stop a corporation from using secrets of his existence to create a whole new line of killers. With the help of a woman on a mission of her own (Hannah Ware), 47 is bringing the war back to his creators and ending a global conspiracy of murder. While a little unoriginal in terms of story, ‘Hitman: Agent 47’ delivers on all other fronts, thanks to the constant dazzling display of action and effects, topped off with a chilling and awesome performance from Rupert Friend, along with the very beautiful Hannah Ware kicking ass, and Zachary Quinto on great form as the token “Is he good or bad?” character. A wonderful action movie, a perfect blend of many action franchises including ‘Bourne’, ‘Transporter’, ‘Taken’ and ‘Bond’, this is one of my favorite movies in a long time.
59 – ‘Act Of Valor’ (2012) / Stars: Roselyn Sanchez, Nestor Serano. Director: Mike McCoy, Scott Waugh.
War movies are a safe bet 99% of the time. We’re usually treated to stellar performances from big movie stars, massive blood-soaked battles directed by a top film maker, and a real emotional punch thanks to some in-demand screenwriters. But what if we took all of that away? What if we had a movie where the lead characters are played, not by big movie stars, but actual real-life soldiers? What if the story was based on real-life missions (Just as the Chuck Norris classic ‘The Delta Force’ was), actually fought by some of those soldiers? And what if the action scenes were directed by a former stuntman and the director of the crazy ‘Need For Speed’ movie (Which will feature in a later part of this countdown)? Well, ‘Act Of Valor’ is all of that. And so much more. When a group of US Navy Seals (Played by real-life Seals, not professional movie stars!) rescue a CIA agent from the clutches of terrorists, they uncover a major terrorist plot that is to be carried out against the USA. With no time to lose, the Seals head into battle to save their country from a deadly catastrophe that could result in the deaths of thousands of people. ‘Act Of ‘Valor’ may not feature blockbuster stars in the roles of the heroes, it may not be the best scripted movie you’ll see, and it may be a little heavy on the war movie cliches. But where this movie tops many others is the realism. The Seals hired for the movie deliver the best performances they can, considering they’re not actors, and they do a great job of portraying the lives of the brave men who fight terror on a daily basis. The real selling point of ‘Act Of Valor’, however, ‘has to be the battle sequences throughout. Death-defying, massively explosive and more exciting that most war movies you’ll ever see, the action is absolutely incredible here, ranging from gun battles to nerve-shredding car chases, with a booming action score pumping from the speakers, as the heroes put on a showcase of true bravery, as they fight till the very end to stop the horrific attacks that have been put into motion. I’ve written a lot about many action movies through this list, but ‘Act Of Valor’ is seriously a contender for the most wildly realistic and hair-raising of them all. ‘Rambo’ meets ‘The Delta Force’. A genuine must-see.
58 – ‘Tango And Cash’ (1989) / Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell. Director: Andrei Konchalovsky, Albert Magnoli.
Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell starring in the same movie together, regardless of what it is, will always be worth watching. But when it’s ‘Tango And Cash’, it’s not only worth seeing, but worth seeing many hundreds of times. Two of the biggest stars in action cinema play a pair of rival cops who are framed for murder by a drug lord (Played by the late great Jack Palance). When sentenced to time in prison, they believe they’re heading to a minimum security prison, where they’ll serve out their sentence in peace. But actually, they’re being jailed in a maximum security prison, where they become the targets of many violent criminals who they’ve sent down. The two cops must now put aside their rivalry and work together to escape and find the people responsible for setting them up. ‘Tango And Cash’ is 1980’s action at its best, with Sly and Kurt in wonderful form, as they smash their way through a series of insane action scenes and hysterical gags. It’s all massive cheesy fun, a great night in for anyone looking for some exciting and hilarious escapism.
57 – ‘San Andreas’ (2015) / Stars: Dwayne Johnson. Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Paul Giamatti. Director: Brad Peyton.
Once again, I find myself questioning why I would include a movie that made half a billion dollars worldwide at the cinema. But the answer remains simple: Far too many people were wrongly critical of ‘San Andreas’, perhaps leaving some people still undecided as to if they should see it or not. My opinion? You must see it. Channeling earlier disaster movie classics, ‘San Andreas’ focuses on a rescue helicopter pilot (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) trying to save his daughter and estranged wife from death in a series of massive earthquakes along the San Andreas fault line in California. As buildings crumble down and countless lives are lost, the family grow closer together in the face of doom. ‘San Andreas’ is very silly, there’s no denying it. From the convenient plot to the fact that Alexandra Daddario and Carla Gugino are two of the best looking women on the planet, and even the lead hero being an iconic wrestler and awesome action movie star, this is a movie all about fun and being Hollywood. Packed with wonderful action, a crowd-pleasing story and some of the best special effects to feature in a disaster movie, it’s baffling how more people didn’t love this movie as much as I did.
56 – ‘Dante’s Peak’ (1997) / Stars: Pierce Brosnan, Linda Hamilton. Director: Roger Donaldson.
Perhaps the only major movie without a Wikipedia page, ‘Dante’s Peak’ has long been criminally overlooked. Coming in 1997, alongside another movie centered on a volcano (Aptly titled ‘Volcano’. It will feature in a later part), this movie, like its competition, features a volcano disaster that plunges a many people into anarchy and a desperate fight for their lives. But where ‘Volcano’ is the big grand blockbuster set in the suburbs of Los Angeles, ‘Dante’s Peak’ goes for the more realistic approach of an actual volcano in a small town, a town that has been named one of America’s must visit places. But with people now fleeing for their lives, it’s up to the city’s Mayor (Played by Terminator’s Linda Hamilton) and a geological expert (Pierce Brosnan starring at the height of James Bond fame) to save the day. My teenage years were filled with the enjoyment of many disaster movies, they were my go-to genre for big entertainment. ‘Dante’s Peak’ was right up there as one of my most watched. It’s still a wonderful action adventure now, it hasn’t aged a bit in its near 20-year age. Now won’t someone give it a Wikipedia page?
55 – ‘RoboCop’ (2014) / Stars: Joel Kinnaman, Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson. Director: Joe Padhila.
I’ll come straight out with this… I didn’t want this movie. I’m not against remakes in general, but I do hate when people go near the untouchable classics. And the original ‘RoboCop’ from 1987 is one of those wonderful classics. However diluted the RC franchise has become over the years, with many sequels and TV shows, that original movie went untouched. Until this unwanted remake came along in 2014. As soon as I knew it wasn’t going to be a sequel, but a new retelling of the original, I said flatly “No!”. And even more so when I discovered they were abandoning the classic RoboCop design for a new generation cyborg. But as photos started to appear online, and more pieces started fitting together. I began to find myself getting more excited as the movie drew closer. The new design grew on me in a massive way, even before the release, and I was very impressed with the great cast that had been assembled. And when that first trailer hit, I was completely sold. I stopped complaining and started to embrace this new vision of one of my childhood favorites. And despite the negative response heaped upon it on its release, I absolutely loved 2014’s ‘RoboCop’. Following a huge amount of the original movie’s story, but with several major changes, the remake stars Joel Kinnaman as Alex Murphy, a Detroit cop who is left for dead and used by a corporation to create a new law enforcing cyborg. But when Murphy’s distant memories come flooding back, the man inside the machine takes control and sets out on a deadly quest for justice and vengeance. With the original 1987 movie, it is hard to draw a fair comparison, as that movie will always remain at a height unreachable by any sequel or remake. But ‘RoboCop’ 2014 carves its own path in the action genre, delivering stunning action, a brilliant new twist on a classic story, and some very decent performances from the cast, especially Kinnaman himself. While it does have some issues with its plotting, this is a movie which thought me that sometimes even the most stupid of ideas can actually come to something special. I love this movie, I’ll defend it greatly, even as a fan of the original movie.
54 – ‘End Of Days’ (1999) / Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne, Robin Tunney. Director: Peter Hyams.
OK. Let’s talk dream projects. The greatest action movie star, taking on Satan himself, in a movie directed by the man who also directed Jean-Claude Van Damme’s ‘Sudden Death’ (One of my 10 all-time favorite movies ever made) and ‘Timecop’, along with many other fantastic action and horror movies. Pure magic. ‘End Of Days’ may be about hell, but it’s my idea of absolute heaven, I’m a major fan. Schwarzenegger stars as a bodyguard haunted by a tragic past, who is called upon to protect a young woman who has been pre-selected to conceive a child with the Prince Of Darkness, on the eve of the new millennium. As time ticks, the world’s fate draws ever closer to it’s end, as good and evil face off in the ultimate battle for mankind. We all know Schwarzenegger is the biggest name in action cinema, even seeing that name on a movie poster fills every action fan’s body with tingles of joy. But rarely have I worshiped him more than I do for ‘End Of Days’. His character, Jericho Cane, is for me his best performance. Haunted, weary and extremely tough, Cane is the kind of character that brings levels of brilliance to a movie that could easily just be a straight-forward action horror movie. But everyone involved here breaks out the big guns, with director Peter Hyams delivering the goods yet again with his wonderful direction of the action and special effects scenes, while Gabriel Byrne as Satan is spectacular, by far the silver screen’s scariest and best portrayal of the Devil, in my opinion. Robin Tunney is a joy too, bring both beauty and frailty to her role, as evil’s conquest. To top it all off is a breathtaking score by one of cinema’s greatest composers John Debney (Who ironically also scored Mel Gibson’s incredible ‘Passion Of The Christ’, and Hyams’ ‘Sudden Death’ among many) and a stunning rock metal soundtrack featuring the likes of Guns N’ Roses (The end credits song ‘Oh My God’ is one of their most awesome!) and Rob Zombie (‘Superbeast’ belongs in every action movie ever!). ‘End Of Days’ is pure action and horror and its very finest, and one of Schwarzenegger’s 3 greatest movies, again in my opinion. One of his most quotable too… “Oh you think you’re bad? You’re a f**king choirboy compared to me!”. Only Arnie could say that to the Devil himself.
53 – ‘Tube’ (2003) / Stars: Seok-hun Kim, Sang-min Park, Doona Bae. Director: Woon-hak Baek.
Asian action movies are awesome. Regardless of how silly they may be, how bad the writing is, or the awful voice dubbing, the action sequences are always absolutely insane. ‘Tube’ is one of the best in the genre of Asian action cinema. Awful script (There’s a narrative involving hard candies that will make you cringe), silly characters and completely over the top, this movie boils down to its delight at throwing everything it can into its high octane action story. A terrorist hijacks a train and its passengers, plants a bomb on board and holds a city at ransom, while a detective gets on to the train and desperately tries to save the passengers. That’s the story. We’ve seen many movies with a similar plot, and equally badly written characters, although the hero is carries himself well. But wow, anyone who hasn’t seen this movie, you’re missing out on some of the best and most exciting action you’ll ever see. Constant gunfire, sword fights and a speeding train, and wrapped up with a stomping action score, Asian action movies don’t come much better and crazier than ‘Tube’.
52 – ‘London Has Fallen’ (2016) / Stars: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman. Director: Babak Najafi.
‘Olympus Has Fallen’ featured in this countdown previously. My love has been well expressed for that movie. But seeing ‘London Has Fallen’ this year proved that there’s more life here than just one movie. Handled correctly, this is a profitable franchise. While not on the scale of its predecessor, the second movie featuring Gerard Butler as Secret Service agent Mike Banning is a romping stomping old school action thriller. This time, Banning is accompanying the US president to London for the funeral of the British Prime Minister. With the world’s leaders in attendance, a horrific series of terror attacks rocks the capital city and claims the lives of thousands, including the visiting political leaders. With only the POTUS surviving, it’s now up to Banning to get him through London city and bring him home safely. With hoards of killers on their trail, they’re in for a brutal fight for survival. As the tagline states – “Prepare For Bloody Hell!”. ‘London Has Fallen’, like many movies featured in these pieces, was met with extremely responses, with many critics absolutely missing the whole point of it being an action movie and instead trying to incite a racial backlash against it. But for me, while nowhere near the glory of ‘Olympus Has Fallen’, ‘London Has Fallen’ never fails to excite me, thanks to its action-packed and extremely violent battles, including a wonderful one-shot shootout that looks like it came from an awesome video game. Total fun, total excitement, and opening the door for a future third adventure for Butler’s terrific kick-ass hero. Another major must-see.
51 – ‘Piranha’ (2010) / Stars: Elizabeth Shue, Jerry O’Connell, Adam Scott, Christopher Lloyd, Kelly Brook. Director: Alexandre Aja.
Action horror movies are always fun. But there’s no funnier and wilder than this reboot of the classic B-movie series ‘Piranha’. The plot is actually hard to sum up in a short space, so to make it a little simpler… A sheriff (Elizabeth Shue), a diver (Adam Scott) and a seedy film director (Jerry O’Connell) fight to survive a massive piranha attack during spring break, with massive crowds of people being horribly injured and/or eaten. ‘Piranha’ is an absolute blast from start to finish. Lots of brilliant action, lots of nasty gore, lots of big laughs and lots of flawless sexy women (Kelly Brook is just wonderful! And naked! Fanboy alert!), this is one of the rare movies that not only has everything, but in which all of it works together. I’ve rarely had more fun watching a movie. ‘That’ scene with Jerry O’Connell surely must be one of the funniest things ever. Beware the sequel though, ‘Piranha 3DD’, so awful I can never sit through it again, and such a shame, as a proper sequel handled right could have been so brilliant. But alas, sometimes people just don’t know how to cook with great ingredients. But we will always have ‘Piranha 2010’!
I hope you check out those movies. Be sure to come back for Part 6 in this massive collection of awesomeness! To see the last part, click here.