Originally written by Zoe Rosensweig for Screen Rant
With the advancement in technology and the scope of blockbuster productions, the 2010s led to some truly amazing action movies. As one of the highest grossing movie genres in Hollywood, it seems like fans can’t get enough action, vicariously living through and fighting alongside favorite action superstars.
10 years is an entire lifetime in the Hollywood movie cycle, and that has allowed several action movies to make it onto the big screen. Whether the story is set in the past, present, or future, a good action movie always has intense fight sequences and nail-biting tension. Not to mention, the only limit is the depth of imagination.
An action film can take place in just about any setting, focused on any topic, and portrayed by any actor. It's safe to say these movies do not disappoint. In this list, there are action movies with female leads, stories set in an apocalyptic future, and special effects that could make James Cameron sigh.
15. Elysium (2013)
Elysium is an interesting blend of a clean utopic society mixed with a gritty post-apocalyptic one, and the tension between its people is palpable. In the year 2154, society is divided into two classes: the poor who live on Earth in squalor and the rich who live in paradise on a space station. Max da Costa (Matt Damon), who is on parole for stealing cars, works in a factory that creates soldier androids. In a catastrophic accident, Max is bombarded with lethal radiation and only has days to live. In a bid to save his life, he devises a plan to break into the space station, use one of the med-pods to fix his body, and upend the two-party class system. The audience empathizes with each of the characters' struggles, making us question how far away we are from falling into the same political traps in real life.
14. Hanna (2011)
Young protagonists leading action movies are always hit or miss, but Hanna passes with flying colors. Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) is an innocent-looking teenager who, in reality, was trained to be a deadly assassin. Her father (Eric Bana), an ex-CIA agent with a compromising secret, has trained her all her life to complete one mission. When she tells him she is ready, she turns on a tracker that alerts the CIA to her whereabouts. This begins a cat-and-mouse game across the world, where Hanna hunts a corrupt CIA agent (Cate Blanchett) while the agents hunts them. Not only is the audience captivated by Ronan's otherworldly look, we see that she can also hold her own against the other actors with poise and remarkable ease.
13. Jack Reacher (2012)
It seems like Tom Cruise can't really make a bad action movie. When five people are shot and killed, all evidence points to a former army sniper with a history of shooting people in the street during the war. Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise), a former Army Criminal Investigator, is called in to help clear the sniper’s name. Reacher initially refuses, thinking that he was indeed guilty, but slowly realizes the man was framed for the murders. He must then partner with the former sniper’s lawyer to figure out who the real culprit is. Jack Reacher is full of tension and intrigue that keeps you guessing. Not to mention, Cruise is also known for doing his own stunts. It's a win all the way around.
12. Inception (2010)
Even though this movie was released a decade ago, we are still trying to figure what actually happened at the end. The mark of a good movie is one that gets people talking and Inception does that and more. Dominic Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is able to dive into people’s subconscious and steal valuable secrets for corporate entities. His espionage and thievery lands him on the international list of fugitives, and in an effort to get his life back, Cobb decides to take on one last job. Except this job entails planting information into a man’s subconscious instead of extracting it. Along with his team, Cobb travels through different levels of the subconscious, bending the laws of reality. At the time, this movie was groundbreaking in terms of special effects and it's not hard to see why.
11. The Raid: Redemption (2011)
The Raid: Redemption wasn't called the"best action movie of the year" for nothing. A SWAT team in Jakarta, Indonesia, plans a mission to capture a mob boss in a high-rise apartment building, which doubles as his safe house. When the team’s cover is blown, they get trapped on the seventh floor. Sergeant Jaka (Joe Taslim) never alerted his superiors about the covert mission, and now the team must fight their way out of the building with limited ammunition. It's a wild ride from start to finish and leaves on the edge of your seat till the very end.
10. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Action star Tom Cruise teaming up with master actress Emily Blunt? While it sounds like an odd partnership, it actually works. Aliens have attacked the earth in Edge of Tomorrow, forcing humanity into a war that threatens the existence of everything on the planet. Without any training, Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is thrust into the fighting and dies shortly after his entrance, only to wake up and start the war all over again. He is trapped in a time-loop, fighting and dying countless times alongside Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt). The two learn valuable information with every encounter, though and every loop brings them closer to defeating the enemy. Blunt is arguably more of a badass than Cruise in this movie, and there is no doubt there are more action flicks in her future. That coupled with the incredible special effects, begs the audience to watch this more than once.
9. Fast Five (2011)
Is there anyone that doesn't like the Fast & Furious movies? The fifth installment of the Fast & Furious franchise, Fast Five, picks up immediately after the previous movie, where Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) and Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) plan a rescue mission for Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) before he is transported to prison. The crew hides out in Rio de Janeiro, evading law enforcement, and must do one last job if they want their freedom back. Meanwhile, federal agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) arrives in Rio, searching for Dom and his team. This franchise has stood the test of time and for good reason. The car chases and fight sequences are so well choreographed it makes even the most straight-laced moviegoer want to be the characters, if only for a moment.
8. Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)
As Taron Egerton's breakout role, it couldn't be better. He shows serious acting capabilities and has the presence necessary to carry an action film. Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton) lives in a troubled home and is soon arrested for stealing a car in Kingsman: The Secret Service. He calls a number given to him in case of an emergency, and is bailed out by a man named Harry Hart (Colin Firth). He finds out that Hart is part of a secret government organization known as the Kingsman, and proceeds to offer him a position. After finishing grueling training, Eggsy and Hart investigate a lead about a tech billionaire with deadly plans. When you overshadow Firth in a movie, you know you can act. We will definitely be seeing plenty of Egerton in years to come. Also Sam Jackson as the film's villain? Resoundingly hilarious and fun.
7. Baby Driver (2017)
Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a getaway driver for crime boss, Doc (Kevin Spacey), in Baby Driver. While he suffers from tinnitus, Baby is an extremely talented driver when he listens to the right music. After Baby completes his last job, ready to start a life with his girlfriend, Doc manages to pull him back into the fold. But the next job proves to not only be dangerous for baby but his girlfriend as well. Baby Driver is wholly original and just plain fun, along with being expertly choreographed all throughout. The soundtrack is fantastic and adds to the overall uniqueness of the movie.
6. Dredd (2012)
With so many films about dystopic futures, sometimes its difficult to stand out. But Dredd doesn't have this issue. In a violent metropolis known as Mega City takes up the entire east coast. This crime-ridden track of land is filled with 800 million residents and a new drug is taking over the population. Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is one of the best law enforcers in the city, acting as judge, jury, and executioner. He is tasked with training a new Judge, but when they go after the infamous drug lord Ma-Ma, they become trapped in a 200-floor slum and must fight their way to freedom. Suffice to say, this movie does the comics justice. It is action-packed, incredibly entertaining, and Urban is a legend.
5. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)
Another Tom Cruise movie? Absolutely. With the fifth installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) learns that the IMF has been disbanded after escaping the Syndicate. Hunt is still focused on the mission though, regardless that he is now a fugitive of the CIA. After months of covert intelligence operations, Hunt summons his old team together to follow one of his leads about the Syndicate. With this franchise being around for so long, it's hard not to feel like the characters are part of the family. There is no shortage of action and suspense here, and the door is left wide open for another movie to come. It's safe to say fans are more than happy.
4. Atomic Blonde (2017)
As an undercover MI6 agent in Atomic Blonde, Lorraine Boughton (Charlize Theron) travels to Cold War Germany after the murder of a fellow undercover agent. She meets with her contact, David Percival (James McAvoy) in Berlin, and begins her covert investigation. She must recover The List, a microfilm containing the names of every British spy. But the closer she gets to obtaining the package, the deadlier her surroundings become. Theron is a tour-de-force in this movie and steals the spotlight every time she's on screen. Throughout the film, the audience questions what situation she'll be in next but we all know she can kick some you-know-what.
3. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)
Tom Cruise is essentially the king of action. Two years have gone by for Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) in Mission: Impossible - Fallout. Soloman Lane (Sean Harris) escapes capture and the CIA blames Hunt and his team, questioning their loyalty. While they track Lane in the hopes of recapturing him, they must deal with their new CIA watchdog on their team who has a secret mission of his own. As the Syndicate slowly comes back to life, Hunt must stop them before they’re able to acquire plutonium cores and launch bombs across the world. Somehow these characters always get wrapped up in something crazy with no hope of escape, yet miraculously manage to do just that. Only this time feels a little different. The bad guys seem a little tougher that the other films and it leaves audience with a sincere feeling of dread. But don't worry, our favorite MI characters always know what to do.
2. John Wick (2014)
In John Wick, after the recent death of his wife, Keanu Reeves' eponymous character, a skilled former assassin, tries to move on with his life. When the arrogant mob prince Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen) steals his car and kills his dog, John Wick unleashes a limitless whirlwind of destruction against the entire mob family. This movie feels like one, elongated fight sequence that never gets old or boring. The audience is constantly waiting for some crazy new thing to happen and is never disappointed. Plus, it's one of the few movies that has accurate gunfighting. With two sequels after this, it's safe to say fans will never be tired of this series.
1. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
In the recent adaptation of the 1980s classic series, Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) is caught by a band of scavengers known as the War Boys in Max Max: Fury Road. He then finds himself unwittingly caught in the middle of a secret civil uprising, led by the fierce warrior, Furiosa (Charlize Theron). With humanity driven to the brink, Furiosa disobeys her leader and his War Boys, in the hopes of saving her people. Max must decide if he should help Furiosa and her people or escape while he has the chance. As a franchise reboot, this movie is fantastic. It feels more alternate universe than it does remake, and that's what makes it so fun. Fans know the story, know the characters, but now we get a fresh take in a fresh world. On top of all that, George Miller's visceral directing makes for a heart-pumping experience that doesn't let up - for good reason.
You can catch one of the first action movies of 2020 when Bad Boys for Life opens at Regal on Friday, January 17th.