Actions Movies

25 Best Action Movies of All Time, Ranked According to IMDb

March 18, 202416 Mins Read

Unsurprisingly, Dune: Part Two has managed to snag a spot on IMDb‘s top action movies, and all the buzz around it has undoubtedly inspired viewers to look for more well-made action flicks. It adds to an already-impressive collection of beloved films from the established genre.

Fans looking for similar exhilarating viewing experiences will be glad to know that IMDb users’ votes have made it possible to find the best action movies ever made. The highest-rated action movies on the platform are often award-winning and genre-defining masterpieces. The top 10 action movies on IMDb should be considered must-see action films for fans of the genre.

25 ‘North by Northwest’ (1959)

IMDb Rating: 8.3/10

Roger Thornhill running away from a plane in North by Northwest
Image via Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

One of the most beloved and iconic films from legendary director Alfred Hitchcock, North by Northwest follows advertising man Roger Thornhill, the furthest thing from an action hero. However, after being mistaken for a world-class spy, he is swept off his feet and forced into a wild and incredibly dangerous chase that will bring him across the entire country battling for his life. The film blends mystery, comedy, and action to create a perfect blending and one-of-a-kind experience that would prove to be highly influential for action movies as a whole.

North by Northwest proves the creativity and magic of action movies as a whole, showing that highly exhilarating setpieces and sequences don’t have to come from a standard hero storyline. The film’s implementation of comedy was also highly effective for the era, creating a distinct style that was incredibly ahead of its time when it came to action comedy filmmaking. It goes to show just how versatile of a filmmaker Hitchcock was, creating a landmark masterpiece of the action genre despite being primarily famous for thrillers and dramas. – Robert Lee

North By Northwest

Release Date
December 18, 1959

Cary Grant , Eva Marie Saint , James Mason , Jessie Royce Landis , Leo G. Carroll , Josephine Hutchinson

136 minutes

Main Genre

24 ‘Princess Mononoke’ (1997)

IMDb Rating: 8.3/10

San and Moro in the forest in Princess Mononoke
Image via Studio Ghibli

One of the very few animated action movies to be highly praised by IMDb, Princess Mononoke follows the story of Ashitaka, the prince of the disappearing Emishi people. After being cursed by a demonized boar god, Ashitaka is forced to travel west in search of a cure for his impending doom. In the west, he finds himself at the center of an ecological battle, with one side featuring San, a woman raised by wolves fighting to protect the forest, and the other side featuring Lady Eboshi, the leader of a local tribe looking to destroy the forest for the sake of her growing community.

Despite the preconceived notions of an animated film, Princess Mononoke makes the most of the medium to create one of the most enthralling and exciting action movie experiences possible. While Hayao Miyazaki has certainly delved into action with his filmmaking both before and since, Princess Mononoke is the peak of his action filmmaking as a visionary. The action is genuinely top-notch, when combined with the beautiful animation style and the film’s powerful story and themes of man vs nature make for a fulfilling viewing experience. – Robert Lee

Princess Mononoke (1997)

Release Date
July 12, 1997

Yôji Matsuda , Yuriko Ishida , Yûko Tanaka , Kaoru Kobayashi , Masahiko Nishimura , Tsunehiko Kamijô

134 minutes

23 ‘Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi’ (1983)

IMDb Rating: 8.3/10

Luke Skywalker about to unload on a skiff full of bad guys in Return of the Jedi
Image via Lucasfilm

The final chapter of the original sci-fi masterpiece trilogy, Return of the Jedi initially follows Luke Skywalker as he leads a mission to save his friend Han Solo from the clutches of the nefarious Jabba the Hutt. At the same time, however, the Emperor has been hatching up a dastardly scheme to destroy the rebellion once and for all with the creating and implementation of a second death star. Luke must find the honor and power within himself to stop the Emperor as well as confront his father, Darth Vader.

Capping off one of the most iconic and beloved science fiction franchises of all time is a tough task in itself, yet for the most part, Return of the Jedi acted as a highly satisfying finale for the franchise. There are individual sequences and moments in this film that still ring true in the eyes of fans as some of the most iconic and memorable moments in cinematic history. It has deservedly earned its keep alongside its predecessors, helping establish Star Wars as one of the most legendary trilogies of all time. – Robert Lee

22 ‘Oldboy’ (2003)

IMDb Rating: 8.3/10

A man holding a hammer in Oldboy
Image via Show East

Director Park Chan-wook has already established a reputation for producing unsettling films with unexpected turns, the most notable of which was Oldboy. The protagonist of the neo-noir action movie, Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik), has just been freed from prison when he finds himself caught up in a major conspiracy that is being controlled by unknown forces.

It is better to go into this Park Chan-wook movie with as little knowledge as possible of the twisted and controversial story that has made it so infamous. Viewers who are tired of Hollywood’s action movies can turn to Oldboy, a masterpiece of Asian cinema, and enjoy a seamless integration of heart-wrenching drama mixed with heart-pounding action sequences, all of which makes the movie a riveting one that no remake will ever be able to match.

Oldboy (2003)

Release Date
November 21, 2003

Park Chan-wook

Choi Min-sik , Yoo Ji-tae , Kang Hye-jung

120 minutes

21 ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ (2018)

IMDb Rating: 8.4/10

James Brolin as Thanos with a half-full Infinity Gauntlit in Avengers: Infinity War
Image via Marvel Studios

Acting as the beginning of the end for the Infinity Saga of the MCU, Avengers: Infinity War saw the Avengers finally facing off against the mad titan himself, Thanos. With a plan to wipe out half of all life in the universe, Thanos has been scouring the universe in search of the infinity stones, massively powerful gems that are capable of giving him near-infinite power. The Avengers are forced to split up across the universe, as well as meet up with new friends, to be able to stop the villain before it’s too late.

Infinity War is a film that from the outside shouldn’t work nearly as well as it does, balancing a massive cavalcade of heroes and bringing them all together with split focuses and attention between them. However, Thanos as a central and powerful villain is the key to making the film work as well as it does, as it massively increases the stakes and has the entire film built around him and his ominous power. The result is a film with still highly memorable action sequences, as well as perfectly setting the stage for one of the biggest films in cinematic history (one that will appear later in the list). – Robert Lee

Avengers: Infinity War

20 ‘Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark’ (1981)

IMDb Rating: 8.4/10


Raiders of the Lost Ark, directed by Steven Spielberg, brought a new cultural symbol to the world upon its first release in 1981. Indiana Jones has become synonymous with Harrison Ford, who performs some never-before-seen (or attempted) stunts in the film, including the sequence with the rolling boulder and his trick with the moving truck. These action sequences remain unforgettable to viewers decades after the film’s initial release.

The exhilarating movie offers its viewers jaw-dropping scenes without ever becoming too much. As the likable archeologist travels the world, fans will undoubtedly find themselves rooting for him to succeed despite facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles. It’s been nearly 40 years, yet this family-friendly action movie (and many of the Indiana Jones films) hasn’t lost any of its charm.

19 ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ (2012)

IMDb Rating: 8.4/10

Batman and Bane fighting in The Dark Knight Rises.
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

The final installment in Christopher Nolan‘s legendary Dark Knight trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises depicts the events eight years after Batman’s (Christian Bale) disappearance following the controversial death of Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). The anti-hero is soon coaxed out of the darkness by an unlikely alliance and a new terrifying villain.

The Dark Knight Rises gave audiences the incredible antagonist Bane (Tom Hardy), who, although often overlooked due to Heath Ledger‘s Joker, has rightly earned his spot in cinematic history and pop culture. The gritty superhero movie brings Christopher Nolan’s renowned trilogy to a satisfying end, cementing the three films as rewatchable masterpieces of the genre.

18 ‘Aliens’ (1986)

IMDb Rating: 8.4/10

Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley with a flamethrower in 'Aliens'
Image via 20th Century

A fantastic sequel to the 1979 classic, Aliens takes place more than half a decade after the horrifying events of Alien. This time, Lt. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) faces hundreds of xenomorphs who have invaded a colony of humans. She’s sent there to investigate with a team of arrogant and doubtful Colonial Marines, who soon learn the hard way that Ripley isn’t joking when she says they should be scared.

Embracing action sequences even more than its predecessor, Aliens thrusts Sigourney Weaver into the spotlight and cements her place as one of the most badass action heroes in cinematic history. Despite premiering in the ’80s, the film is still just as entertaining and worth watching again today.


Release Date
July 18, 1986

James Cameron

137 minutes

17 ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ (2018)

IMDb Rating: 8.4/10

Multiversal variants of Spider-heroes working as a team as the Spider-Verse collides
Image via Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse introduces Brooklyn-based Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), who struggles to juggle his responsibilities as a student and friendly neighborhood Spidey. When he encounters other versions of Spidey from across the multiverse, things get chaotic.

Known for its jaw-dropping visuals and already considered one of the best animated movies of all time, Into the Spider-Verse is a clear love letter to the comics, as it adapts the art style and storylines in an unprecedented way. Its frantic, chaotic, yet beautiful scenes capture the vast possibilities of the multiverse, while also highlighting Miles’ personal battle against the villainous Kingpin (Liev Schreiber).

Watch on Fubo

16 ‘Avengers: Endgame’ (2019)

IMDb Rating: 8.4/10

All the Avengers charging forward into battle
Image via Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The events of The Infinity Saga culminate in the blockbuster film Avengers: Endgame, in which the remaining Avengers and their allies attempt to undo the devastating consequences of the Mad Titan Thanos’ snap in Infinity War. Their heroic efforts only lead to additional doubts about the lasting impact of Earth’s mightiest heroes’ battles, which are still on full display in this action-packed movie.

Endgame shows the most difficult mission the Avengers have had to confront in the MCU so far, with a story arc spanning years and everything at risk. There is no simple answer to their dilemma, and viewers will remember the heartbreaking moments from Endgame long after they leave the cinema.

15 ‘Léon: The Professional’ (1994)

IMDb Rating: 8.5/10

Léon showing Mathilda a gun

Director Luc Besson’s Léon: The Professional is centered on the unique relationship that forms between a professional “cleaner” (hitman) and a 12-year-old girl, Mathilda (Natalie Portman). After her parents are murdered by a corrupt DEA agent, Mathilda relies on Léon (Jean Reno) for survival and, eventually, training to become a talented enough assassin who can seek revenge.

The fascinating and often controversial dynamic between the protagonists is the focus of the movie, but its action sequences are remarkable, too. Thanks to the emotional buildup and connection Léon and Mathilda form with audiences, the stakes feel higher with each new dangerous encounter they have.

Leon: The Professional

Release Date
November 18, 1994

Luc Besson

110 minutes

14 ‘Gladiator’ (2000)

IMDb Rating: 8.5/10

Russell Crowe in Gladiator
Image via Universal Pictures

Inspired by Daniel P. Mannix‘s 1958 book, Those About to Die, Gladiator is a box office hit that dramatizes Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius’ (Russell Crowe) experiences. When the ambitious traitor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) murders Maximus’ father (and family) and claims the throne for himself, the protagonist is forced into slavery and becomes a gladiator who fights through the ranks to exact revenge.

Director Ridley Scott’s beloved film is known for its engrossing portrayal of history, and it does an excellent job of depicting the life-or-death fights between gladiators. The risks only escalate as Maximus faces off against increasingly skilled foes and audiences may find themselves watching the more stressful battles with bated breath.


Release Date
May 5, 2000

155 minutes

13 ‘Harakiri’ (1962)

IMDb Rating: 8.6/10


Set during the Edo period in Japan, Harakiri is a legendary jidaigeki movie that follows the rōnin Hanshirō Tsugumo (Tatsuya Nakadai). He goes to the local feudal lord to request an honorable death by seppuku, but is ridiculed and questioned because of a recent incident involving a younger samurai who wanted the same thing.

Directed by Masaki Kobayashi, Harakiri is remembered for its powerful story full of twists and turns, which sends a hard-hitting message about corruption and honor. Plus, its flawlessly choreographed action sequences are a marvel to watch even today, as fans can expect to see the protagonist skillfully fight against several samurais at once.

Watch on Criterion

12 ‘Seven Samurai’ (1954)

IMDb Rating: 8.6/10

The Seven Samurai
Image via Toho

An essential samurai film for beginners, director Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai is centered on a group of rōnin who are hired by the inhabitants of a poor village to protect them from bandits. Starting with an older samurai, the seven fighters must find a way to work together to prevent the thieves from stealing the civilians’ crops.

Seven Samurai is an influential film and a genre-defining masterpiece that uses innovative techniques in both its narrative and technical aspects. Its complicated camerawork served as an important step in using multiple angles to capture the same action shot. The movie also began the trope of a group of heroes coming together to accomplish a goal or beat an antagonist, which is still used today.

Seven Samurai

Release Date
November 19, 1956

Akira Kurosawa

Toshiro Mifune , Takashi Shimura

207 minutes

11 ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’ (1991)

IMDb Rating: 8.6/10

Image via TriStar Pictures

Terminator 2: Judgment Day blends sci-fi and action perfectly with its exhilarating story that revolves around a model T-800 machine (Arnold Schwarzenegger) sent back to the past to protect John Connor (Edward Furlong), the future of the human resistance. Skynet sends its own Terminator, the shape-shifting T-1000 (Robert Patrick), whose only objective is to kill the young boy.

A great example of an impactful sequel done right, director James Cameron improves on the visuals, narrative, and action scenes from the 1984 blockbuster. T-1000’s fights against T-800 are especially impressive, as these moments showcased cutting-edge effects during its time.

10 ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope’ (1977)

IMDb Rating: 8.6/10

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) looking to the distance in the desert planet of Tatooine in Star Wars: A New Hope.
Image via 20th Century Studios

The film that would go on to transform cinema as we know it, A New Hope signaled the beginning of the Star Wars cinematic universe. Directed by George Lucas, the 1977 movie kicks off the Skywalker Saga by following Luke Skywalker’s (Mark Hamill) story, as he learns his role in the galaxy and teams up with Han Solo (Harrison Ford) to rescue Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), who’s being held hostage by the Imperial Forces.

With cutting-edge visuals and a gripping story, Star Wars became an instant hit and a cultural phenomenon that reminded wider audiences and critics that space operas can be award-winning masterpieces. Its portrayal of the intergalactic battles juxtaposed with more intimate stories of love and betrayal has gone on (and continues) to define an entire generation.

9 ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ (2023)

IMDb Rating: 8.6/10

Miles Morales Spidey fighting Spot in a colorful background in 'Across the Spider-Verse'
Image via Sony Pictures

Just when fans and critics thought creators couldn’t outdo the brilliance that is Into the Spider-Verse, Across the Spider-Verse premiered this year and blew everyone’s minds. Across the Spider-Verse expands Miles’ story in a mind-bending way, diving into the wild and vibrant multiverse as he learns about the Spider-Society that has been hidden from him this whole time.

If the first movie felt like a love letter to the comics, the sequel looks more like an exaggeration of the source material (in the best way possible). The sci-fi animated movie’s frantic visuals are totally in tune with the action sequences and even the more intimate and emotional moments, making each frame look like a work of art. Of course, there’s something to be said about the well-written story, too, which leaves viewers immediately craving the next installment in the promising film series.

Watch on Netflix

8 ‘Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back’ (1980)

IMDb Rating: 8.7/10

The Empire Strikes Back, Luke vs. Vader

Director Irvin Kershner’s continuation of the epic Skywalker Saga is set three years after the events in the 1977 film. The Empire Strikes Back depicts the ongoing battle between the Galactic Empire led by the Emperor (voiced by Clive Revill and portrayed physically by Elaine Baker), and the Rebel Alliance led by Princess Leia Organa. Somewhere else in the galaxy, Luke seeks out Jedi Master Yoda (Frank Oz) to prepare for his inevitable confrontation with the Sith lord, Darth Vader (David Prowse / James Earl Jones).

Most fans would agree that the 1980 movie is still the best from the original trilogy (and perhaps the Star Wars franchise). The Empire Strikes Back had plenty of opportunities for heart-stopping action, with its iconic scenes made better by the well-written arcs of characters fans were already growing to love.

7 ‘The Matrix’ (1999)

IMDb Rating: 8.7/10

the matrix 1999 image
Image via Warner Bros.

The Matrix is a film that needs no introduction. Directed by the Wachowskis, the rewatchable sci-fi action movie would go on to start a massively successful franchise that follows Neo’s (Keanu Reeves) experiences. In the first movie, Neo is an unassuming computer programmer and hacker (named Thomas Anderson) who soon learns that reality is not what it seems.

The Matrix is an action-packed blockbuster that portrays imaginative fight scenes that incorporate Neo’s new knowledge about his surroundings. No fan will ever forget seeing “bullet time” moments on the big screen, not to mention the numerous close calls Neo and his allies have whenever agents from the simulated reality pursue them.

The Matrix

Release Date
March 31, 1999

136 minutes

Watch on Max

6 ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’ (2002)

IMDb Rating: 8.8/10

Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) looking for the kidnapped hobbits in 'The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers' (2002)
Image via New Line Cinema

It’s hard to call any one of director Peter Jackson‘s The Lord of the Rings movies bad, but if there’s an entry that falls behind the other two in the acclaimed trilogy, it would be The Two Towers. The second installment in the LotR trilogy follows three distinct storylines: Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam’s (Sean Astin) challenging journey to Mordor, Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and Gimli’s (John Rhys-Davies) trek to Rohan, and Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin’s (Billy Boyd) encounter with Treebeard (voiced by Rhys-Davies).

And yet, despite often being the lowest-rated film among the three, The Two Towers is still a remarkable display of the fantasy, action, and adventure genres that undoubtedly holds a special place in fans’ hearts. No doubt viewers still remember lining up for the film when it first premiered and being stunned by the epic story and gorgeous visuals it offered fans.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Release Date
December 18, 2002

179 minutes

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