Adventure Movies

10 Best Action Adventure Movies of the 2010s, Ranked

May 27, 202411 Mins Read

Both the action and adventure genres are perfectly suited to the unique qualities of cinema as a storytelling medium. After all, moving pictures are all about, well, movement, and there are perhaps no two genres that are more closely tied to kinetic dynamism than action and adventure. While action films are characterized by loud explosions, epic chases, and grand set pieces, adventure films are all about characters traversing unknown territories in a quest for something.

Since the two genres are so similar, they very often go hand in hand. Just like some of the best action movies are full of intrepid adventures, so too are some of the best adventure films packed with thrilling action sequences. With the rising popularity of big IP-driven blockbusters, the 2010s saw the release of quite a few incredible action adventure movies. From artsier stuff like The Revenant to huge franchise events like Mission: Impossible — Fallout, these are films that prove that these two genres are made for each other.

10 ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ (2016)

Directed by Gareth Edwards

Cassian Andor and Jon Erso lay low in a market on the planet Jedha in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Image via Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The Disney era of Star Wars has been rather divisive since the House of Mouse took over Lucasfilm in 2012. There have been, however, a few glorious pieces of media that have earned nearly unanimous praise from fans and non-fans alike; Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is among them. It’s the tale of the unlikely heroes who band together on a suicide mission to steal the Death Star plans, giving the Rebel Alliance one last bit of hope in their struggle against the Galactic Empire.

Some would go as far as to argue that Rogue One is the best movie in the Star Wars franchise. With the many layers and nuances that Disney+’s Andor has been adding to the film, the praise is even more warranted. All the characters are profoundly compelling, despite there being over a dozen to keep track of; the story is dazzling, despite most viewers already knowing the outcome of the story; and the galactic chases and action set pieces are as entertaining as any Star Wars fan could possibly ask for.

9 ‘The Revenant’ (2015)

Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu

A man on a horse traversing a snowy field in The Revenant
Image via 20th Century Studios

The film that earned the outstanding Mexican filmmaker Alejandro G. Iñárritu his fourth Academy Award, The Revenant tells the harrowing true story of Hugh Glass, a frontiersman who, while on a fur-trading expedition in the 1820s, was mauled by a bear and left for dead by his team. What follows is a tense and gripping revenge tale seeing Glass, played by an Oscar-winning Leonardo DiCaprio, traverse the cold Dakotas to take justice into his own hands.

DiCaprio is impossible to look away from in the lead, and Emmanuel Lubezki‘s gorgeous, naturally-lit cinematography imbues Glass’s gut-wrenching adventure with an air of poignant beauty. Action scenes are scarce but absolutely brutal, with Iñárritu leaving nothing to the imagination in terms of how easily and horribly violence and revenge can destroy the soul. The Revenant is a ruthless and challenging yet undeniably rewarding adventure for those looking for something a bit more gritty.


The Revenant

Release Date
December 25, 2015

156 minutes

Mark L. Smith , Alejandro González Iñárritu , Michael Punke

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8 ‘Skyfall’ (2012)

Directed by Sam Mendes

James Bond and M stand together in the misty Scottish countryside with 007's famous Aston Martin behind them.
Image via Sony Pictures Releasing

Being that the 007 franchise is one of the most prolific action movie franchises in history, there are always sky-high expectations whenever a new installment comes out. Only rarely does a James Bond film exceed those expectations, Skyfall being one of the most noteworthy cases where it happened. In it, Bond’s loyalty to M is tested when her past comes back to haunt her. MI6 comes under attack, and 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter the personal cost.

With exciting and cleverly employed action, an adventure through the British countryside, and a delightfully camp yet terrifying villain played by the ever-exceptional Javier Bardem, Skyfall is the definitive highlight of the Daniel Craig era and one of the best outings in the franchise. It’s pure spy thriller excitement of the most elite quality, bringing a much-welcome amount of depth to both Daniel Craig’s Bond and Dame Judi Dench‘s M.



Release Date
October 25, 2012


Neal Purvis , Robert Wade , John Logan , Ian Fleming

7 ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ (2014)

Directed by Doug Liman

Rita & William, wearing mech-suits, kneeling and looking ahead in the film Edge of Tomorrow
Image via Warner Bros.

Loosely based on the Japanese novel All You Need Is Kill, Edge of Tomorrow has one of the most inventive and entertaining main premises of any 2010s action blockbuster. It’s a dystopian sci-fi extravaganza where a soldier fighting aliens must relive the same day over and over again every time he dies. This gimmick could have grown repetitive very quickly, but in the capable hands of director Doug Liman and screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie (director of the latest three Mission: Impossible movies), Edge of Tomorrow becomes a worthy spiritual successor to Groundhog Day… If Groundhog Day had murderous aliens and 90-pound exosuits.

Edge of Tomorrow is one of the best films about alien invasions, thanks to impressive visual effects and a fun spirit of sci-fi warlike adventure. All the smart uses of the time-loop trope result in action sequences that never stop being incredibly fun, adding an effective air of pathos to the story and the dynamic between the two main characters. As a result, Edge of Tomorrow is a must-see for fans of the genre and a true modern classic-in-the-making of the sci-fi genre.

6 ‘Inception’ (2010)

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Cobb holding a gun and looking at something off-camera in Inception
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

It isn’t the least bit controversial to state that Christopher Nolan is one of the greatest directors making films in Hollywood today. More than anything else, he has made plenty of action movies, one of his most popular and acclaimed being Inception. It’s the story of Dom Cobb, one of Nolan’s best characters and a thief who steals corporate secrets using a device that allows him to enter people’s dreams. Tasked with doing the inverse — planting an idea into the mind of a wealthy CEO — Cobb will have to set aside his tragic past not to endanger the mission and his team.

Thanks to Nolan’s love for practical effects and old-school filmmaking, Inception is visually stunning and incredibly fun in all of its showstopping action scenes. As the characters journey through the film’s mind-bending yet easy-to-follow world, audiences find it increasingly difficult to look away. No one could blame them: every second of Inception‘s runtime is packed with entertainment in its purest form, making it the perfect marriage between commercialism and art.



Release Date
July 15, 2010


5 ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ (2010)

Directed by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders

Hiccup riding Toothless in 'How To Train Your Dragon'
Image via Paramount Pictures

One of the best fantasy animated movies of all time, the beloved How to Train Your Dragon is the story of a timid young Viking from a dragon-hunting village called Berk. One day, he accidentally befriends one of the beasts, discovering that there’s a lot more to them than his people give them credit for. What follows is a moving tale of forbidden friendship, made all the more engrossing by the many draconic action sequences and visually striking adventures.

It’s hard to tell what exactly makes How to Train Your Dragon so irresistibly magical. Perhaps it’s the lovingly constructed world, with all its breathtaking locales and fun narrative rules. Perhaps it’s the fascinating characters and all the complex dynamics between them or John Powell‘s rousing score. Most likely, it’s all of those things and more. What can’t be denied is that How to Train Your Dragon is one of DreamWorks Animation’s most outstanding efforts, a delightful and visually stunning adventure that children and adults can appreciate.

How to Train Your Dragon Film Poster

How to Train Your Dragon

Release Date
March 26, 2010

98 minutes

Cressida Cowell , William Davies , Dean DeBlois , Chris Sanders

4 ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ (2017)

Directed by Matt Reeves

Caesar and his army of apes on horses in War of the Planet of the Apes.
Image via 20th Century Studios

The Planet of the Apes series was never one of the most acclaimed sci-fi movie franchises, exactly. After Tim Burton almost killed it in 2001, fans thought it was over for these talking primates — but nothing could have been further away from the truth. Rupert Wyatt breathed new life into the franchise in 2011 with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, with Matt Reeves taking over for 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. It was Reeves’s War for the Planet of the Apes, the momentous finale of the trilogy, that became the crown jewel of the entire franchise.

The film cements Caesar’s place as one of the best movie monkeys of all time, placing him on a path of revenge against the ruthless Colonel that caused him and his people to suffer unimaginable losses. Yes, War for the Planet of the Apes has plenty of breathtaking action and horseback adventure through a desolate, post-apocalyptic USA. However, its main strength is a powerful character study with a tremendous emotional punch, beautifully conveyed by Andy Serkis‘ impactful performance.

3 ‘Mission: Impossible — Fallout’ (2018)

Directed by Christopher McQuarrie

Walker, The White Widow, and Ethan Hunt running out of a club in Mission: Impossible - Fallout
Image via Paramount Pictures 

For decades, the Mission: Impossible franchise has proved to be one of the most consistent and high-quality action franchises in Hollywood. Fallout, the sixth installment, finds Ethan and his IMF team joining allies, both familiar and new, in a race against time to handle the messy aftermath of a mission gone wrong. It’s easily one of the best action films of the last 10 years, packed with globetrotting thrills and groundbreaking moments.

Like all the best Mission: Impossible movies, Fallout has a riveting narrative with an unstoppable sense of adventure and stakes that feel genuinely stratospheric. It also has some of the most impressive and suspenseful set pieces in the series, from Tom Cruise actually performing a HALO jump to a nail-biting final battle at the edge of a cliff. Its predecessors, 2011’s Ghost Protocol and 2015’s Rogue Nation, are two of the best action adventure movies of the decade, too, but there’s no beating Fallout, which raised the bar for every film in the series, past and future.

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

Directed by Rodney Rothman, Peter Ramsey, and Bob Persichetti

Miles dropping into New York City in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Image via Sony Pictures Releasing

The refreshingly creative Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is one of the best urban adventure movies ever and one of the most influential animated movies of all time, not even ten years after it was released. In it, teenager Miles Morales becomes the Spider-Man of his universe and must join five other Spider-People from other dimensions in a battle to save every reality from complete annihilation.

An exceptional adaptation of the Spider-Man mythos, the film perfectly understands everything that makes it a timeless story and him a timeless character. Most importantly, Spider-Man:Into the Spider-Verse is an action-packed and gorgeously animated coming-of-age tale. Its sense of humor helps make the Spider-People’s adventure through this unfamiliar universe all the more enjoyable, both for those who love superhero films and for those who don’t.

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1 ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ (2015)

Directed by George Miller

A figure with his back to the camera next to a car in a desert in Mad Max: Fury Road
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

Mad Max: Fury Road is two non-stop hours of unadulterated, high-octane, unapologetically demented, quintessentially Australian wasteland action. Part sequel, part soft reboot of George Miller‘s beloved Mad Max franchise, it sees a woman rebelling against a tyrant in search of her homeland. With the aid of a group of female prisoners, a twisted worshiper, and a drifter named Max, who doesn’t really talk much, she launches a small-scale revolt.

Fury Road is one of the very few action movies that are perfect from start to finish. Its explosive set pieces are full of delightfully weird and creative elements that are there only because Miller wanted to shoot them and no one told him no — and the modern blockbuster landscape is all the better for it. The world-building is great, the characters are surprisingly compelling, and their adventure through the mythical wasteland truly doesn’t give audiences a single second to catch their breath.

Mad Max Fury Road Poster

Mad Max: Fury Road

Release Date
May 13, 2015


George Miller , Brendan McCarthy , Nick Lathouris , Byron Kennedy

NEXT:The Best Adventure Movies of All Time, According to IMDb

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