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10 “Rotten” Action Movies With a High Rating on IMDb

December 30, 20239 Mins Read

The action genre has a unique charm that has, for many years, made it one of the most popular with audiences. Characterized by grand setpieces, eye-popping visual spectacle, and elaborate stunts, action films are very easy to be entertained by and very rarely boring. Most of the time, critics and audiences mostly agree on whether a certain action movie is good or bad, but when they don’t, it’s very interesting to see.

On the movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, there are plenty of action films with a “rotten” rating of 59% or less, meaning that less than 60% of the accounted critics gave the movie their seal of approval. Viewers typically agree that these are all-out failures, but a few have excellent ratings from users on IMDb. From modern blockbusters like Bullet Train to older cult classics like The Boondock Saints, these are extravaganzas that quenched audiences’ thirst for thrills, even if they didn’t live up to critics’ standards.

10 ‘Bullet Train’ (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 54% vs. IMDb rating: 7.3/10

Brad Pitt and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Ladybug and Tangerine fighting in 'Bullet Train'
Image via Sony Pictures Releasing

Though he made his name as a stunt performer and coordinator at first, David Leitch has quickly become one of the most promising directors in the action genre. Bullet Train is one of his most idiosyncratic movies, a high-octane, non-stop comedy about five assassins aboard a swiftly moving train, trying to find out what their missions have in common.

With an impressively stacked cast, a twisted sense of humor, and some visually striking set pieces throughout its runtime, Bullet Train is perfect for those who enjoy relentless action thrillers that never cease to excite. Audiences found it funny and entertaining enough for what it was, while critics thought that all the noisy spectacle detracted from what could have been a really effective and mysterious story had it had a little more of a sense of direction.

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9 ‘The Accountant’ (2016)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 52% vs. IMDb rating: 7.3/10

Ben Affleck as Christian Wolff taking cover while turning back in the Accountant
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

One of the most underrated action movies of the last few years is Gavin O’Connor‘s The Accountant. A conspiracy thriller, the film centers on Christian Wolff, a math savant who uncooks the books for a new client while the Treasury Department closes in on his activities as the body count starts to rise. With an exciting story and one of Ben Affleck‘s strongest performances in the genre, it’s a perfect fit for fans of bloody set pieces.

On Rotten Tomatoes, critics were let down by The Accountant‘s messy narrative, ludicrous plot twists, and what they deemed to be a questionable depiction of autism in the titular action hero. However, audiences were much more forgiving, finding Affleck’s character and his arc engaging and the action surprisingly entertaining and well-choreographed. It may not be any kind of arthouse masterpiece, but The Accountant sure is an awful lot of explosive fun.

Watch on Hulu

8 ’13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi’ (2016)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 51% vs. IMDb rating: 7.3/10

John Krasinski as Jack Silva keenling beside a falle soldier while looking ahead in 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.
Image via Paramount Pictures 

Though he’s not exactly known for the high quality of his work, Michael Bay is certainly one of the most popular directors in the action genre. He has made multiple films that split the opinions of critics and audiences, but few have been quite as visibly divisive as 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. It shows an attack on a U.S. compound in Libya, where a security team struggles to make sense of the chaos.

Those who enjoy explosive war thrillers will surely find 13 Hours to be one of the most underrated war films in recent years. Critics didn’t appreciate the cartoonish tone that Bay approached the harrowing subject matter with or its lack of subtlety and historical accuracy. However, viewers looked past that and found Bay’s deep focus on the characters and their personalities to be very effective, serving as the foundation for a technically impressive action spectacle.


13 Hours


Release Date
January 14, 2016

Watch on Netflix

7 ‘The Next Three Days’ (2010)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 50% vs. IMDb rating: 7.3/10

Elizabeth Banks as Lara Brennan wearing a prison uniform and talking to Russell Crowe as John Brennan in 'The Next Three Days'
Image via Lionsgate

In Paul Haggis‘s psychological thriller The Next Three Days, Elizabeth Banks and Russell Crowe play a married couple whose life is turned upside down when she is accused of murder. What follows is a tense thrillfest that’s fully aware of the ludicrousness of its far-fetched story and tries its damnedest to take full advantage of it.

Critics loved Banks and Crowe’s performances, praising how they almost managed to make suspension of disbelief at least somewhat plausible—keyword: almost. Audiences didn’t seem to mind nearly as much, though, creating a sharp divide between their opinions and critics’. Fans enjoyed the dramatization of the justice system’s flaws and thought that its story was full of compelling mysteries that were enough to get anyone’s heart racing.

Watch on Netflix

6 ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest’ (2006)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 53% vs. IMDb rating: 7.4/10

Bill Nighy as Davy Jones looking intently in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Image via Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

The popularity of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise may have decreased since it first took the world by storm, but it still holds some of the most underrated sequels Hollywood has produced recently. Gore Verbinski‘s Dead Man’s Chest, the first sequel to the 2003 original, took a darker and more epic approach to the material. It centers on Johnny Depp‘s Jack Sparrow in his race to recover the heart of an immortal villain to avoid enslaving his soul to the seafarer’s service.

Doubling down on the swashbuckling action that made Curse of the Black Pearl such a success, Dead Man’s Chest found in fans of pirate films and unconventional fantasy a strong niche. On IMDb, they love the movie for the strong character writing and fun combat sequences. On the other hand, Rotten Tomatoes’ critics missed the humor and originality of the first film and thought Depp’s performance as Jack Sparrow had already overstayed its welcome.

Watch on Disney+

5 ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ (2009)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 26% vs. IMDb rating: 7.4/10

Gerard Butler as Clyde Shelton in prison looking seriously at something off-camera in Law Abiding Citizen
Image via Overture Films

In F. Gary Gray‘s Law Abiding Citizen, a frustrated man takes justice into his own hands after a plea bargain sets one of his family’s killers free. With Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx delivering a pair of surprisingly solid performances for such a seemingly middle-of-the-road action flick, the movie isn’t afraid to deliver the kind of adrenaline-pumping and graphic action that fans of the genre typically enjoy.

Even though they agreed that the film’s story was nothing special and got progressively more absurd as it went along, culminating in a pretty terrible ending, reviewers on IMDb thought Law Abiding Citizen was more than entertaining enough to deliver a good time. On the opposite side of the coin, critics found its taste for bloodshed unnecessarily sadistic and thought that its abundance of plot holes and contrivances was far too much to tolerate.

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4 ‘Enemy at the Gates’ (2001)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 54% vs. IMDb rating: 7.5/10

Rachel Weisz as Tania smiles at Jude Law as Vassili in a bunker in Enemy at the Gates.
Image via Paramount Pictures

It may not be counted among the best World War II movies ever made, but Jean-Jacques Annaud‘s Enemy at the Gates is a suspenseful war drama about a Russian and a German sniper playing a deadly game of cat-and-mouse during the Battle of Stalingrad. With a compelling narrative centered on an ensemble of interesting characters, it has something for everyone, from history buffs to action addicts.

Rotten Tomatoes begged to differ, though. Though they called the film atmospheric and thrilling, critics thought Enemy at the Gates‘ collection of trite war movie tropes, including a rather misplaced romance, was uninspired and detrimental to the material. Those willing to watch any WWII film with a good depiction of the conflict should be satisfied by Enemy at the Gates, but those with a different taste might end up agreeing with critics.

Watch on Paramount+

3 ‘Die Hard: With a Vengeance’ (1995)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 58% vs. IMDb rating: 7.6/10

Zeus and John McClane tied to a metal pole, wounded in Die Hard with a Vengenance.
Image via 20th Century Studios

The original Die Hard is hard to beat, considering it’s widely regarded as one of the most perfect action movies ever made. The sequels that it inevitably spawned were of varying quality, with many feeling Die Hard 2 was too similar to the original for it to truly stand out. Thus, John McTiernan‘s Die Hard: With a Vengeance went in an exquisitely different direction, showing hero John McClane on a race against time, working with a Harlem store owner to stop a German terrorist from robbing the Federal Reserve Building.

Adding elements of mystery thrillers and even buddy comedies (with Samuel L. Jackson flawlessly playing the charming other side of Bruce Willis‘s coin), the third installment in the franchise has a story jampacked with exciting set pieces and one of the most underrated villains of 1990s movies. Though audiences on IMDb seemed to enjoy everything Die Hard did differently from its predecessors, critics thought it was shallow and too snappy.

Watch on Hulu

2 ‘The Boondock Saints’ (1999)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 26% vs. IMDb rating: 7.7/10

Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flannery as Murphy and Connor aiming their guns down in The Boondock Saints
Image via Franchise Pictures

Fans won’t hear its title in many people’s lists of the best crime movies ever, but The Boondock Saints has enough fans to warrant a reevaluation of its quality. It’s the story of two Irish Catholic brothers who become vigilantes and wipe out Boston’s criminal underworld in the name of God. The result is a rather unconventional dark comedy with brutal action and effective thriller elements.

On Rotten Tomatoes, critics considered The Boondock Saints a lesser Tarantino-esque crime movie. In their opinion, Troy Duffy‘s movie was a shoddy B-movie with no fresh ideas. On the other hand, viewers on IMDb thoughtit was a sharply written and very distinct take on the genre, with action dazzling enough to earn the film a loyal cult following.

Watch on Amazon Prime

1 ‘Elite Squad’ (2007)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 51% vs. IMDb rating: 8.0/10

Wagner Moura as Roberto Nascimento holding a gun and looking to the distance in Elite Squad
Image via Universal Pictures

Severely underrated, the Brazilian film industry has put out many phenomenal outinthroughout of its history. José Padilha‘s Elite Squad is one of the most popular Brazilian movies, a crime drama about a captain who has to find a substitute for his position in 1997 Rio de Janeiro while trying to take down dangerous criminals before the Pope visits.

Reviewers on IMDb commend Elite Squad‘s depiction of the underbelly of Brazil’s crime world, even drawing comparisons to the renowned Oscar-nominated masterpiece City of God. They love how the story’s bubbling with energy and brutal action, which is precisely something that Rotten Tomatoes didn’t connect with. Critics took issue with the voiceover’s pointlessness and called the over-the-top action senseless, showing that audiences and critics aren’t always looking for the same things when approaching an action film.

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NEXT: Every Action Movie That Won Best Picture at the Oscars, Ranked

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