On the surface, action movies are all about the adrenaline pumping fights, explosive shootouts, unkillable warriors and hopeless causes, with a little romance and comedy sprinkled in.
Some follow classic battles between good and evil with larger-than-life personas taking on entire armies to fight for what’s right. Others portray a sea of grey characters trying to get their way in cruel and brutal environments.
Many of the greatest action movies ever made dive far deeper than simple fast and flashy violence and create complex characters, vibrant worlds, and engrossing stories, while also pushing the envelope with amazingly choreographed action scenes and special effects.
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 an action film by IMDb.
Many of the films on this list are in the conversation for best movies ever made and they come from a wide variety of genres. Movies that made the cut include science fiction and fantasy behemoths like Star Wars, Aliens, and Lord of the Rings, and classic adventure franchises like Indiana Jones and Die Hard.
There are also several films from India and East Asia, a few of which were remade (some with permission and some without) into popular westernized versions. Further, there are some classic silent and black-and-white era films that make the list, many written and directed by Buster Keaton, who is best known for his silent films. (These are the greatest movie heroes of all time.)
Action films are often the biggest movie events of the year, raking in astronomical figures at the box office and beyond. Huge budgets have allowed action filmmakers to take their art to another level and create truly incredible worlds with massive casts and cutting-edge special effects. Of course, money isn’t everything and there are plenty of big-budget busts — these are the biggest movie flops in Hollywood history.