16 Action Films You Need To Watch Before You Die

Thrills, spills, chills, and kills: this is
why we go to the movies, to see big, amazing, improbable and/or impossible stuff happen
on the big screen. It gets the blood pumping to see impressive
feats of stunt work and death defiance—which is why tons of action movies come out every
year. While many are certainly satisfying, only
a few contain that elusive combination of a great story, unforgettable characters, and
the unmatched technical mastery necessary to transcend genre thrills and achieve great
cinema. Here are Looper’s picks for the best action
movies ever made. Die Hard Part of the reason 1988’s Die Hard works so
well is its cinematic context. Action movies at the time all tended to feature
stoic dudes with huge muscles laying waste with boulder-sized fists and machine guns,
never doubting their utter alpha maleness and barely cracking a smile. Contrast that with Die Hard, in which Bruce
Willis is a relatively normal-sized, normal looking guy who cracks wise and expresses
fear and self-doubt as he almost single-handedly beats back terrorists to literally save Christmas. Die Hard also gave us a breakout performance
from the beloved Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber, one of the all-time great movie villains … “Efficient, adult, cooperative — not a lot
to ask. Alas, your Mr. Takagi did not see it that
way, so he won’t be joining us for the rest of his life.” The Dark Knight Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy
is really more like one long movie, but the middle part is definitely the best chapter,
showing the result of Bruce Wayne’s training in Batman Begins, and the start of what will
play out in The Dark Knight Rises. 2008’s The Dark Knight is arguably the best-made
superhero movie of all time, with a tone that reflects the character and shows utter faithfulness
to the comics it’s based on … “What would I do without you? Go back to ripping off mob dealers? No, no, no, no. no, you…You — you complete me.” The French Connection Gene Hackman’s tough guy cop Jimmy “Popeye”
Doyle just never stops running. Or driving. Or roughing up criminals in the pursuit of
justice, even if he has to don a Santa suit while doing so … “All winter long I gotta listen to him gripe
about his bowling scores. Now I’m gonna bust your ass for those three
bags and I’m going to nail you for picking your feet in Poughkeepsie!” Despite being so frenetic, so tough, so new,
and so very violent, 1971’s The French Connection won Best Picture at the Academy Awards — the
first R-rated flick ever to do so. The Bourne Identity In 2002, as the James Bond franchise was slumping
its way through an era of stale, lazily delivered clichés, The Bourne Identity hit theaters
— a refreshingly modern, wholly American spy movie that reflected a more modern environment
of geopolitics. Matt Damon’s ultra-trained super warrior doesn’t
know who he is…but he’s definitely aware of his own incredible fighting abilities. Thanks to the paranoid, shaky camerawork and
urgent pace, the audience rarely knows more than Jason Bourne does, and as a result they
never quite get to take a breath, either. Raiders of the Lost Ark It’s supposed to be an homage to the action-adventure
serials that director Steven Spielberg and producer George Lucas grew up watching in
the 1950s. But the thing is, those often weren’t very
good movies—1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, however, completely overshadows its source
material and is nearly a perfect film. Every scene is crowd-pleasing, particularly
the iconic action sequences … Raiders is pure fun, beginning to end. RoboCop 1987’s RoboCop is a violent, action-packed,
futuristic cop movie…or is it a violent, action-packed, futuristic cop movie that satirizes
violent, action-packed movies from the ’80s? “You have the right to remain silent.” “F— you!” Like any good work of satire, it works on
both levels. RoboCop has a lot to say about the value of
human life in the crime-ridden future world of New Detroit. After all, it’s about a cop struck down by
some pretty intense violence…and then resurrected as a cyborg designed to execute as many criminals
as humanly possible. The Matrix A college-level philosophy class was never
so eye-popping. 1999’s The Matrix kind of blew everybody’s
minds with its central conceit: that there’s no point to human life beyond their bodies
being bags of energy. Neo gets to decide if he’s cool with that,
or if he wants to try to exist on a higher plane with his own free will. Pretty heady stuff for the multiplex, but
The Matrix features a lot of bells and whistles, such as the insane fight between Neo and Agent
Smith, and that innovative “bullet time” effect, which seemed to bend time itself. Speed By the mid-’90s, action movies were dying
under their own weight: huge budgets meant lots of explosions but not a lot of depth
or character. Then came 1994’s Speed, an all-killer-no-filler
thrill ride couched in a simple premise: If a Los Angeles city bus slows to under 50 miles
per hour, a bomb planted on board explodes. It breaks with form to make for lots of surprises,
and the plot necessitates absolutely non-stop action. “We just got a ransom demand from your dead
terrorist. Says he’s rigged a city bus. Where’s Jack?” “Where do you think?” “I gotta get on that bus.” “You gotta get on … Yeah. Yeah! You get on the bus.” But there’s also a lot of humanity in Speed:
Everyday people from many different walks of life are thrust together onto the city
bus, and they come together as a team to rise up and meet the challenge. Terminator 2: Judgment Day The original Terminator from 1984 is pretty
fantastic in its own right—dark, gritty, weird, and menacing, all with a charming,
low-budget air. The 1992 follow-up Terminator 2 was one of
the most expensive movies of all time—but the money is all up there on the screen. Especially well executed is the iconic motorcycles
vs. semi-truck chase scene … And every time a puddle of liquid metal reshaped
itself into that evil Terminator? Still cool, and still looking state of the
art after more than 25 years. Bullitt Steve McQueen was one of the first action
stars, and a pioneer of the form. He even did as many of his own stunts as film
studios would let him—for example, he did some of the driving for the landmark, on-location
car chase scene in 1968’s Bullitt. The plot is loaded with twists and intrigue,
and it all culminates as Lt. Frank Bullitt chases the bad guys in their 1968 Dodge Charger
through the very real, very hilly streets of San Francisco. No standard issue police cruiser for Bullitt—he’s
got a sweet 1968 Ford Mustang GT. The high-speed pursuit ends in the best possible
way: Mad Max: Fury Road Reboots generally don’t work—and even if
they do, they’re still doomed to pale in comparison to the original thing. Not so with Mad Max: Fury Road, which expands
and improves on the Mad Max universe with a nonstop ride through the familiar, harrowing,
post-apocalyptic wasteland on modified cars piloted by crazed, survival-driven nomadic
warriors. Mad Max creator George Miller returned to
direct Fury Road, and his 35-plus years of experience as a filmmaker are up there on
the screen with an action movie that’s both endlessly thrilling and emotionally compelling. Plus there’s a character called “Doof Warrior”
who plays a fire-spewing electric guitar, if you’re still not convinced. Gladiator “Swords and sandals” movies hadn’t been popular
for decades when director Ridley Scott and star Russell Crowe brought them back in a
big way with 2000’s Gladiator. The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture,
and Crowe won Best Actor for his performance as Roman general-turned-slave Maximus … “Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered
wife. And I will have my vengeance.” Against a classical Roman backdrop, audiences
root for Maximus’s quest to avenge the misdeeds of the evil emperor, win his freedom, and
survive the brutal arena — and Scott stages some of the most thrilling action sequences
ever put to film. Jurassic Park The original Jurassic Park was a revelation
in 1993, popularizing a subgenre known as the “techno-thriller.” Pioneered by author Michael Crichton, these
fables inevitably involve technology run amok to the shock and horror of the humans that
created it. “Before you even knew what you had, you patented
it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunch box, and now (*pounds table*) you’re
selling it.” But of course, that’s all a lot of fun to
watch, especially when the technology is realistic dinosaurs hunting humans under a majestic,
unforgettable score by John Williams, all brought to life with masterful direction by
Steven Spielberg. Add it all up, and you’ve got a modern masterpiece
of popcorn cinema. Lethal Weapon Detectives Riggs and Murtaugh are mismatched
cops — one a loose cannon who doesn’t play by the rules, and the other a by-the-books
guy who is … “I’m too old for this s—.” 1987’s Lethal Weapon makes this formula work
because the chemistry between Mel Gibson and Danny Glover is so charming. That, and the plot—largely couched in dark
comedy—never goes where the audience thinks it will. “You wanna see crazy? I’ll tell ya.” “Now that’s a real badge, I’m a real cop,
and this is a real f—— gun.” Even thirty years later, this s— never gets
old. The Avengers The superhero genre really got going when
Marvel Studios started laying the groundwork for its vast cinematic universe, setting the
stage for arguably the single greatest superhero team-up possible. For the Avengers’ long-awaited big-screen
debut, Marvel hired a director who really understood comic books—Joss Whedon—and
assembled a cast of acclaimed actors who really understood how to deliver Whedon’s witty dialogue… “Alright, yay. Alright, good job, guys. Let’s just not come in tomorrow. Let’s just take a day.” No expense was spared making a movie that
was limitless in terms of superpowers, earth-shattering fights, things from space—like a comic book
come to life. The Avengers is now the standard by which
all other big, fun superhero movies are judged. Kill Bill Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill is an epic tale
of revenge, centered on a hero of near-superhuman abilities and unrelenting focus, but with
enough vulnerabilities and human motivation to make audiences root for her. Uma Thurman’s Bride goes on a quest to locate
and murder every member of the squad that left her for dead years earlier—and find
the baby she was pregnant with at the time of the attack. The trail ultimately leads to the gang’s leader,
and her baby’s father, David Carradine’s Bill, but along the way, the Bride must subdue each
of her enemies in insanely choreographed fight sequences, any number of which would be the
centerpiece of any semi-decent action movie. Thanks for watching! Click the Looper icon to subscribe to our
YouTube channel. Plus check out all this cool stuff we know
you’ll love, too!

100 thoughts on “16 Action Films You Need To Watch Before You Die

  1. I'm sorry. Did you say Joss Whedon understood comic books? After what he did to Batman and the Justice League?

  2. At least half of the list is a bunch of crap!
    Who writs this nonesense and were doe they get their infos from. Not from knowing about cinema or watching movies!
    Here's a couple of remarkeble action films one should watch before doing some afterlive action:
    Dragon Inn
    Dog Bite Dog
    Yakuza Papers (5 film saga)
    Ghost in the Shell
    The Raid
    Harry Brown
    Get Carter (Michael Caine)
    Assaullt on Precint 13 (no! there is just one)
    Dawn of the Dead
    The Wild Bunch

    Just to get strated.

  3. I was going to phrase this as a question. But Indiana Jones is not an action movie. Never will be.

    EDIT: Apparently there is more than that. You even called Jurassic Park a "Techno Thriller". Where is Dredd? Where is The Raid? Where is John Wick? And well… The Avengers is not the best Avengers-movie. IMO Captain America: Civil War is, but most of them is better.

    Second EDIT: I wanted to add a recommendation to probably the funniest action-comedy ever created. SPY. Watch it, it does not disappoint.

  4. Reboots usually are crap as hell but Robocoop and Judjde Dred were awesome 🙂
    Especially Judge Dredd for simple reason he weared helmeth trough the whole movie like master chief in Halo and never got to see his face. Like in any other superhero movie they just can t stand wearing mask revela how handsome they are.

  5. IMO Avengers was the worst of them. Too artificial. Kids love it but not too sure about their parents 🙂

  6. Nice list. But have u ever considered, in times of 4K, not using downgraded age old trailer material from 16mm Film?

  7. U missed out on Rambo 1&3 , Commando , The Expendibles 3 , Beverly hill cop 2 , Top gun & Mission Impossible 4&5

  8. Ok, not a bad list. Here's a few honorable mentions:
    "Predator"(1987) John McTiernan's OTHER great action film
    "Enter the Dragon"(1973) Bruce Lee at his best
    "Total Recall"(1990) Paul Verhoeven at his best

  9. I think the second lethal weapon is way better then the first. The crazy South Africans, the house on the cliff that goes crashing down and the ending on the boat. Oh I loved the hot blonde South African lady too.

  10. You got Speed wrong. The scene with the bus was the second act. The finale was on a subway but everyone forgets about it because of the bus.

  11. Personally I'd also include a TON of other movies like Watchmen, Casino Royale, Mission Impossible Fallout, 300, Edge of Tomorrow, Pulp Fiction, John Wick, Batman 89, Ip Man fuck i could go on and on and on.

  12. plplplplplplplplpl!! Batman Sucks! "Speed" is crap. Fury Road=another waayy overdone piece of ugly crap. Mission Impossible=Best Action Franchise. Jackie Chan =best Action Actor.😖

  13. Mad Max2: The Road Warrior. This second film is so pure and focused on action and chase that it is one of the very best of all time. Not being on this list is troubling.

  14. So the list was pretty good. Bourne Identity didn’t need to be on it because all the Bourne movies are almost as plotless as John Wick. There are several must-see movies missing from this list including but not limited too: Aliens, Predator, Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan, Star Wars and Big Trouble in Little China.

  15. You disliked the video because you didn't see:

    John Wick.




    The Magnificent Seven.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *