Action movies historically have not relied on strong acting, subtle plot development, period costumes, or memorable songs to keep their audiences engaged. Action films usually lean on a riveting plot, a charismatic hero, a despised villain, and plenty of action. That’s why good action films such as “Die Hard” with Bruce Willis or the early “Rocky” movies with Sylvester Stallone commanded such large audiences.
Many action movies are released in the summer because studios know that’s the time of year audiences are most receptive to escapist films. Long after their release, many of these films remain among the most-watched movies of all time, as evidenced by the huge following for the Indiana Jones and Star Wars series.
Action movies don’t get much respect from critics, so it’s not surprising that critics’ reviews diverge from the opinion of moviegoers. Critics disliked the Rambo series starring Sylvester Stallone, but the movies have been box office gold, pulling in $691.7 million, adjusted for inflation, according to Box Office Mojo.
Because action movies are difficult to film, they are often expensive productions, with many films depending on computer-generated imagery to create convincing action. Action scenes rely on a director’s understanding of spatial relationships – between the actors themselves and between the actors and the scenery – and on how long a scene should last.
Of course, a bad action movie can be cringeworthy, perhaps more so than any other genre, if the plot isn’t believable, the special effects are lacking, or the characters are miscast.
To determine the worst 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 an 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.