Special Report

50 Best Action Movies of All Time

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

The highly anticipated release of “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” on December 20 marks yet another action movie projected to do well with audiences nationwide and abroad. It’s the high energy of action films – with their high speed chases, exciting fights, and often mesmerizing violence – that keeps audiences glued to their seats.

Viewers have loved action films for nearly as long as movies have been made. Perhaps this is because of the genre taking advantage of what may be cinema’s greatest strength: the representation of motion. Action films take advantage of this aspect to the fullest, constantly pushing the boundaries and capturing increasingly gripping sequences of motion.

To identify the best action movies, 24/7 Wall St. has created an index based on user and critic ratings from IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes. The films included span from 1924 to this year.

Click here to see the best action movies of all time.

Action films frequently blend with other genres. Therefore a movie such as “Jumanji” can be considered to be an action, adventure, or comedy film. Our list of best action movies includes films that bleed into the comedy, sci-fi, horror, drama, and even animation genres. These movies find wide appeal because of their ability to tap into various audiences.

Another reason for their widespread appeal is the fact that international distribution favors action movies – action sequences require no subtitles to enjoy. Audiences worldwide can similarly enjoy a car chase or an exceptional bout of kung fu.

To determine the best action movies of all time, 24/7 Wall St. created an index based on each film’s Rotten Tomatoes average critic rating, Rotten Tomatoes average audience rating, and Internet Movie Database average user rating. To be considered, each film needed to have at least 10,000 total user ratings between IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, 10 approved Tomatometer critic reviews, and be classified as a action film by IMDb.

Items included on this list were selected based exclusively on this methodology. This article includes affiliate links, and 24/7 Wall St. may get a share of the revenue from sales.

50. Forbidden Planet
> Year released: 1956
> Director: Fred M. Wilcox
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen

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49. War for the Planet of the Apes
> Year released: 2017
> Director: Matt Reeves
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn

48. X-Men: Days of Future Past
> Year released: 2014
> Director: Bryan Singer
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman

47. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
> Year released: 2014
> Director: Matt Reeves
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis

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46. Dawn of the Dead
> Year released: 1978
> Director: George A. Romero
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger

45. Thor: Ragnarok
> Year released: 2017
> Director: Taika Waititi
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett

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44. Heat
> Year released: 1995
> Director: Michael Mann
> Secondary genre: Crime
> Top actors: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer

43. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
> Year released: 1974
> Director: Joseph Sargent
> Secondary genre: Crime
> Top actors: Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam

42. Fort Apache
> Year released: 1948
> Director: John Ford
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Shirley Temple

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41. Bonnie and Clyde
> Year released: 1967
> Director: Arthur Penn
> Secondary genre: Biography
> Top actors: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard

 

40. Baby Driver
> Year released: 2017
> Director: Edgar Wright
> Secondary genre: Crime
> Top actors: Ansel Elgort, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm

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39. Key Largo
> Year released: 1948
> Director: John Huston
> Secondary genre: Crime
> Top actors: Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Lauren Bacall

 

38. How to Train Your Dragon 2
> Year released: 2014
> Director: Dean DeBlois
> Secondary genre: Animation
> Top actors: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler

37. Iron Man
> Year released: 2008
> Director: Jon Favreau
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard

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36. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
> Year released: 1989
> Director: Steven Spielberg
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Alison Doody

 

35. Guardians of the Galaxy
> Year released: 2014
> Director: James Gunn
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper

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34. Winchester ’73
> Year released: 1950
> Director: Anthony Mann
> Secondary genre: Drama
> Top actors: James Stewart, Shelley Winters, Dan Duryea

33. Skyfall
> Year released: 2012
> Director: Sam Mendes
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris

 

32. The Terminator
> Year released: 1984
> Director: James Cameron
> Secondary genre: Sci-Fi
> Top actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn

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31. Logan
> Year released: 2017
> Director: James Mangold
> Secondary genre: Drama
> Top actors: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen

30. The Bourne Ultimatum
> Year released: 2007
> Director: Paul Greengrass
> Secondary genre: Mystery
> Top actors: Matt Damon, Edgar Ramírez, Joan Allen

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29. Star Trek
> Year released: 2009
> Director: J.J. Abrams
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg

28. Captain Blood
> Year released: 1935
> Director: Michael Curtiz
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Lionel Atwill

27. The Sea Hawk
> Year released: 1940
> Director: Michael Curtiz
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: Errol Flynn, Brenda Marshall, Claude Rains

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26. Scarface
> Year released: 1932
> Director: Howard Hawks, Richard Rosson
> Secondary genre: Crime
> Top actors: Paul Muni, Ann Dvorak, Karen Morley

25. Die Hard
> Year released: 1988
> Director: John McTiernan
> Secondary genre: Thriller
> Top actors: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia

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24. Terminator 2
> Year released: 1991
> Director: James Cameron
> Secondary genre: Sci-Fi
> Top actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong

23. The French Connection
> Year released: 1971
> Director: William Friedkin
> Secondary genre: Crime
> Top actors: Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider, Fernando Rey

 

22. The Lego Movie
> Year released: 2014
> Director: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
> Secondary genre: Animation
> Top actors: Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks

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21. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
> Year released: 2015
> Director: J.J. Abrams
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac

20. Rio Bravo
> Year released: 1959
> Director: Howard Hawks
> Secondary genre: Drama
> Top actors: John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson

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19. The Adventures of Robin Hood
> Year released: 1938
> Director: Michael Curtiz, William Keighley
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone

18. Red River
> Year released: 1948
> Director: Howard Hawks, Arthur Rosson
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, Joanne Dru

17. The Avengers
> Year released: 2012
> Director: Joss Whedon
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson

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16. The Dark Knight Rises
> Year released: 2012
> Director: Christopher Nolan
> Secondary genre: Thriller
> Top actors: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway

15. Mad Max: Fury Road
> Year released: 2015
> Director: George Miller
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult

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14. Dunkirk
> Year released: 2017
> Director: Christopher Nolan
> Secondary genre: Drama
> Top actors: Fionn Whitehead, Barry Keoghan, Mark Rylance

13. The Wild Bunch
> Year released: 1969
> Director: Sam Peckinpah
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan

12. High Noon
> Year released: 1952
> Director: Fred Zinnemann
> Secondary genre: Drama
> Top actors: Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Thomas Mitchell

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11. White Heat
> Year released: 1949
> Director: Raoul Walsh
> Secondary genre: Crime
> Top actors: James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O’Brien

10. Inception
> Year released: 2010
> Director: Christopher Nolan
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page

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9. Aliens
> Year released: 1986
> Director: James Cameron
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn

8. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
> Year released: 1977
> Director: George Lucas
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher

7. Steamboat Bill, Jr.
> Year released: 1928
> Director: Charles Reisner, Buster Keaton
> Secondary genre: Comedy
> Top actors: Buster Keaton, Tom McGuire, Ernest Torrence

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6. The General
> Year released: 1926
> Director: Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: Buster Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavender

5. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
> Year released: 1980
> Director: Irvin Kershner
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher

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4. North by Northwest
> Year released: 1959
> Director: Alfred Hitchcock
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason

3. Raiders of the Lost Ark
> Year released: 1981
> Director: Steven Spielberg
> Secondary genre: Adventure
> Top actors: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman

2. The Dark Knight
> Year released: 2008
> Director: Christopher Nolan
> Secondary genre: Crime
> Top actors: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart

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1. Sherlock Jr.
> Year released: 1924
> Director: Buster Keaton
> Secondary genre: Comedy
> Top actors: Buster Keaton, Kathryn McGuire, Joe Keaton

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