All time favorite ACTION movies!
10. SPEED- 1994, Keanu Reeves re-established himself as a guy who could play the action hero in the well-crafted film, directed with tremendous energy by Jon de Bont. The film’s story about a madman (Dennis Hopper) who plants a bomb on a city bus that will explode if it goes under 50 miles an hour is exciting throughout. Sandra Bullock became a star playing the character of Annie, a passenger who is forced to drive the bus. Her chemistry with Reeves is terrific.
9. THE ROAD WARRIOR- 1981, George Miller’s sequel to Mad Max (Mel Gibson) features the most astonishing stunt work ever put on film. This post apocalyptic story, which plays out like a wild over the top road movie, is both visionary and truly unique!
8. TERMINATOR 2 JUDGEMENT DAY- 1991, Truly groundbreaking in its visual effects, this James Cameron sequel was a muscular piece of action filmmaking that saw Arnold Schwarzenegger return as the good Cyborg whose mission is to protect John Conner (Edward Furlong). Linda Hamilton also returned as a pumped up Sarah Conner and unknown actor at the time, Robert Patrick, was terrific as the movies Nemesis, the shape shifting cyborg bent on destroying what Arnold must protect. It really changed the way action movies are made!
7. JURASSIC PARK- 1993, One of the truly great movie-going experiences of my life. I saw this film twice the day it opened at the famed Ziegfeld movie theater in NYC and still remember the crowd of 1300 people roaring with applause throughout. Sam Neil, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough and Laura Dern were all well cast and the CGI was as good as it gets. I love Neil’s line: “But that’s NOT what I’m gonna do”! You really believed dinosaurs were alive! Perhaps Spielberg’s last great popcorn movie!
6. THE ROCK- 1996, Anyone who says Michael Bay hasn’t made a great film hasn’t seen The Rock, an adrenaline fueled movie loaded with great action and characters. Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery make for a great screen team. Their chemistry is terrific in this story about terrorists who take over Alcatraz prison and threaten to launch a nuclear warhead. Ed Harris makes for a really interesting villain as his ex-military character is extremely complicated. I wish Cage would return to reprise his role of Stanley Goodspeed in a sequel! Connery is just terrific!
5. DEATH WISH 3- 1985, a total guilty pleasure. The third go-round by Charles Bronson as Architect/ Vigilante Paul Kersey is so over the top that it plays like a cartoon, but as a pumped up revenge B-film the movie is an absolute BLAST. Bronson was 63 years old when he did the film but still looked great. The film’s last 30 minutes when Bronson goes on a one man killing spree, mowing down dozens of gang members in a run down neighborhood in Brooklyn NY, has to be seen to be believed. This film has developed a strong cult following over the years. Trailer
4. RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART 2- 1985, Stallone took the character of Rambo from the film, First Blood, and turned him into a full blown action hero that was bigger than life, putting him close to comic book territory. The story, which was co-written by James Cameron, hit a nerve with audiences as its hope of rescuing POW’s from Vietnam equated into great escapism that was really inspirational. The second biggest hit that year behind Back to the Future!
3. TOTAL RECALL- 1990, The first half of this film is perhaps the quickest paced film this genre has ever seen. Arnold Schwarzenegger has never been more likeable on screen playing Doug Quaid, a man of the future who may or may not have had a memory implantation. Paul Verhoven directs the film with an intensity that rarely lets up and his violent style is evident throughout. Michael Ironside (the poor man’s Jack Nicholson) is fun hamming it up as one of the villains who continually chases Arnold throughout the fast moving movie. Arnold’s “Consider that a divorce” line is classic! In an interesting footnote, both Patrick Swayze and Richard Dreyfuss were considered for the film’s lead.
2. ALIENS- 1986, James Cameron took Ridley Scott’s horror film and re-invented the concept into one of the greatest pure action films ever made. Sigourney Weaver’s, Ellen Ripley, became the greatest female action hero in the history of movies. Her character’s relationship with the little girl, Newt (Carrie Henn), is the film’s heart, and it elevated the story into something quite powerful. Director Cameron upped the anti with multiple endings that kept topping one another, creating one of the most pulse pounding conclusions ever put on screen. The effects by Stan Winston were top notch, and Bill Paxton is a blast as the film’s comic relief! Truly a great film!
1. DIE HARD- 1988, A textbook example of a perfect action adventure film as the movie works on every level. In an era where action hero’s were mostly invincible, Bruce Willis’ John McClain showed a vulnerability that movie going audiences could relate to, giving us a real rooting interest. Based on a novel titled “Nothing Lasts Forever”, the story has a great concept: a NYC cop comes to LA to visit his estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia) on Christmas Eve and gets trapped in a high rise office building (filmed at the Fox Plaza in LA) that has been taken over by terrorists. Willis, who was mostly known as the star of the ABC hit TV show, Moonlighting, proved to be a great hero and Alan Rickman was equally good as the film’s villain, Hans Gruber. Great story, great direction, great characters and pulse pounding action (the film’s highlight has Willis’ McClain jumping off the roof of the building with a fire hose tied around his waist) make Die Hard my all time favorite action film. An incredible crowd pleaser! I saw this ten times in a theater!
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