Tuesday, September 03, 2013

My Ten Favorite Action Movies

So, I've decided I love too many "action/adventure" movies to lump them all together, and I'm going to do lists of my favorite superhero, sci-fi, fantasy, and war movies separately.  Which means these are all pure action movies about people without super powers or magical abilities that are battling other real people, not robots or supervillains or evil wizards.  Yes, such movies exist!

1.  The Fugitive (1993)

Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) is wrongly convicted of his wife's murder, escapes, and goes hunting for the real killer while U.S. Marshal Sammy Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) hunts for him.  My second-favorite movie of all time.

2.  The Bourne Identity (2002)

Amnesiac Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) races across Europe, evading unknown pursuers, seeking answers about his past, and falling in love with a quirky stranger (Franka Potente).  The movie that changed my mind about Matt Damon.  And based on one of my favorite books.

3.  A Knight's Tale (2001)

Poor William Thatcher (Heath Ledger) pretends to be a knight so he can win jousting tournaments and feed himself and his friends (Paul Bettany, Alan Tudyk, and Mark Addy).  Rollicking good fun, with a crazy soundtrack and some awesome jousting scenes.

4.  Conspiracy Theory (1997)

Paranoid cab driver Jerry Fletcher (Mel Gibson) convinces the woman he loves (Julia Roberts) to help him uncover a conspiracy.  I think this is the first thing I ever saw Patrick Stewart in other than Star Trek:  The Next Generation.  It manages to be twisty and tender, creepy and sweet, all at the same time.

5.  The Three Musketeers (1993)

Young d'Artagnan (Chris O'Donnell) just wants to be a Musketeer, but he ends up embroiled in unmasking a plot against the king.  His three Musketeer friends (Kiefer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen, and Oliver Platt) are hilarious and awesome too.  I actually like this better than Alexandre Dumas' book!

6.  GoldenEye (1995)

James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) battles his ex-partner (Sean Bean) to save Britain from an electronic meltdown.  The first thing I ever saw Brosnan, Bean, and Judi Dench in -- and I became a total fan of all three.

7.  Master and Commander:  The Far Side of the World (2003)

Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe) leads his best friend Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany) and his ship's crew on a quest to capture a dastardly French ship.  I'd read all of Patrick O'Brian's novels about Aubrey and Maturin before the movie came out, and I spent a lot of my time in the theater whispering to my brother about how perfectly everything matched the books.

8.  R.E.D. (2010)

Retired black-ops agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), his new girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), and a bunch of his old pals (Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren) and enemies (Brian Cox) team up to figure out who's trying to kill them, and why.  Hilarious from beginning to end.  You guys wanna get pancakes?

9.  The Hunt for Red October (1990)

CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) tries to convince his superiors that a Russian submarine captain (Sean Connery) wants to defect.  Still the best Jack Ryan movie, and since I love Harrison Ford but only like Alec Baldwin, that's saying something.

10.  Romancing the Stone (1984)

Romance novelist Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) goes to South America to rescue her kidnapped sister and ends up having a grand adventure with the help of a stranger (Michael Douglas).  Rollicking good fun, and all the parts that have to do with being a writer crack me up to no end.


  1. Love The Fugitive! Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones are just great.

    What made you dislike Matt Damon before Bourne? I'd only seen him in Ocean's 11 before that, which was a very different character, to be sure, but nothing I didn't like. Have you seen The Bourne Legacy with Jeremy Renner taking over the starring role?

    Conspiracy Theory and The Hunt for Red October are also very good movies, and R.E.D. is hilarious!

    1. Um, I kind of just disliked Matt Damon because I thought he was a cocky little twerp with good looks and no talent. Based on the trailers for a couple of his movies (particularly Stuck on You) and not much else. Now I've seen him in more than a dozen and liked him in all of them.

      I've seen The Bourne Legacy and it was okay -- basically just two hours of set-up for the next movie, I felt.

  2. My husband is totally converting me to action movies. I recently saw R.E.D. and The Bourne Identity, and I loved them both. And A Knight's Tale is just classic. :) I'm looking forward to watching one or two of your other suggestions, too.

    1. Your husband has good taste! Hee. Have fun with your action education :-D

  3. Very cool list, I really need to make a list going by those parameters, since my list would be entirely full of sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book movies, except for Indiana Jones.

    Of these, the only movie that I haven't seen is Conspiracy Theory and I haven't seen A Knight's Tale is a long time.

    The Fugitive is great movie, it is one of my favorite mystery thrillers, and one of Ford's many awesome movies.

    Although The Bourne Ultimatum is my favorite of the Bourne films, Identity was also very good. The "Pen vs. Knife" fight in that was awesome.

    If I remember correctly, my little brother made me watch this version of The Three Musketeers so many times. I haven't seen it in years though.

    Goldeneye isn't my favorite Bond movie, which are Skyfall, Casino Royale, and Goldfinger, but it is one of the better ones for sure.

    Master and Commander is one of my favorite Russell Crowe movies after Gladiator.

    R.E.D. was a lot of fun, it really surprised me when I first watched it.

    The Hunt for Red October is another good one, although I consider more of a thriller than an action film.

    Except for being kind of a rip-off of Indiana Jones, Romancing the Stone was also a lot of fun.

    My number one action/adventure has to be Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. I love that movie so much.

    Fun list, I am looking forward to your superhero, sci-fi, fantasy, and war movie lists.


    1. Raiders of the Lost Ark will be on my fantasy list because it involves supernatural stuff. Too many faces melting to put it on the list of strictly-realistic action movies, you see.

      I could agree with you that Red October has more thriller to it than action. But it has too much action for me to put it in Drama, and I don't like enough thrillers to do a post about them, I don't think.

      Master and Commander is my favorite Russell Crowe movie, though Jack Aubrey is only my third-favorite role of his. (My favorite is Cort in The Quick and the Dead, and my second-favorite is Bud White in LA Confidential.)

      I like Brosnan best as Bond, though I only own GoldenEye of his outings; and the only other Bond movies I own are Casino Royale and Skyfall.

      More lists coming... whenever I have time :-)

    2. You are right, Raiders is more of a fantasy film. In that case, my favorite realistic action movies are Skyfall, Die Hard, Casino Royale, Gladiator, and the Bounre Ultimatum. :)

      I need to watch the Quick and the Dead because a western with Crowe in it has to be cool! I also need to watch LA Confidential since I always love a good noir.



    3. TQ&TD is a bit cheesy here and there, but the acting redeems it. And oh, Russell Crowe is just... exactly the sort of character I love, lol.

      LA Confidential earns its R rating, just so you're aware. I was going to ask over on your blog if you've seen the RDJ/Val Kilmer neo-noir "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," but I hesitate to recommend it because it is very R-rated and I don't see how even a filter like Clearplay could make it work. It's funny, but very off-kilter and off-color.

  4. You know, given my love of Russell Crowe and seafaring adventures, I should probably give "Master and Commander" another viewing. I only saw it once, back when it came out, and now I'm not sure why. Clearly I didn't love it outright on first viewing, but I have very little memory of what I did think of it. And with what we've learned since this came out, I can now look at it in new light.

    1. Well, let's watch it together some week! I haven't seen it in a few years.

    2. Sounds like a plan! I think I'm also one of the only people on the planet who didn't really like "Romancing the Stone," but loved the sequel, "Jewel of the Nile." I think that's mostly cuz Michael Douglas was such a jerk in the first one, and I really liked him in the sequel. But it's been a very long time now since I've seen either movie. Who knows what I'd think now!

    3. And I still haven't seen Jewel of the Nile -- can never seem to cross paths with it. One of these days.

  5. I love R.E.D - hilarious and pretty much all of my favorite actors in one space. Such a wonderful surprise!

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE THE FUGITIVE. It deserves all caps, that's how much I love that movie. If it's on, just stop talking to me because that's all I'm going to watch. Tommy and Harrison. Love. I also feel this way about The Client. If they weren't packed up in boxes due to my upcoming move, I'd watch both right now :)

    1. The Fugitive is about as close to a perfect movie as you're going to get, I think. Not a person or line or moment out of place. I love it dearly. I see there's a 20th anniversary blu-ray coming out with new interviews and stuff... I may need to buy it, even tho I don't have a blu-ray player.

      I have never seen The Client, despite having a best friend who was obsessed with Brad Renfro when we were teens. Should I try to find it?

    2. I'm so buying the 20th anniversary blu ray. Yes!

      And heck yes! Watch The Client! For me it's right up there with The Fugitive. I totally had a teen crush on Mr. Renfro too (still makes me sad he died so young). :(

    3. I'll have to see if I can dig up a copy. I've only seen Refro in a couple things, mostly Tom and Huck over and over, but it was definitely a shame that he died so young -- right about the time Heath Ledger died, too.

  6. The Bourne Identity is probably my all-time favorite action film! Love all the Bourne films really (except the newest one). The Fugitive is SO good, I've seen it a few times and always enjoy Harrison Ford! The Three Musketeers has been a family favorite for years, not sure I'd like the book that much because the 1993 film is just such fun! I've seen A Knight's Tale but not in a while, the modern music was a little crazy for me. I tried watching Hunt For Red October was got bored quickly, should try again sometime.

    I really want to see Master & Commander, mostly because of the whole theme of Regency era Navy which I enjoy in Jane Austen's 'Persuasion'. R.E.D. sounds interesting as do the others, I'll have to check them out sometime! Don't think I've seen GoldenEye but how can you go wrong with Brosnan, Bean and Dench? ;)

    1. Yeah, I love all of the first three Bourne movies, and have watched them many times. But the first is my favorite. Just delicious. I remember the first time I watched it, seeing Jason Bourne climbing the outside of a building and me just thinking, "I have never seen anything like this before. Who IS this guy? This is amazing!"

      I think maybe the reason I don't like the original book of The Three Musketeers is because it's not nearly as fun as the 1993 movie, and d'Artagnan's kind of a jerk in it, and I don't want him to be a jerk! I want him to be sweet Chris O'Donnell.

      I got bored the first time I watched The Hunt for Red October too! But I tried it again, and it is wonderful if you can get through the first half an hour or so the first time. Like James the Reviewer said in a comment here, it's more of a thinky thriller than an action movie until the last 40 minutes or so.

      I think you could very possibly love Master and Commander. It's wonderful. You can easily imagine Wentworth being aboard just such a ship -- I think one of the reasons I love him so much is because he reminds me of the Aubrey & Maturin books.

      You might also really like Romancing the Stone -- it's quirky and funny and sweet.

      And as for GoldenEye -- you really, truly can't go wrong with Brosnan, Bean, and Dench. Seeing Brosnan square off against both of them -- oh man, it's just delicious. Toss in a very young Famke Janssen and Alan Cumming, plus Robbie Coltrane and Joe Don Baker... delightful, delightful, delightful.

  7. Good list, Hamlette! Though I'm not a big action movie fan, I do really like some of the ones you mentioned: A knight's tale and Master and commander (You see, as long as it's historical, I cán enjoy an action movie!)

    I thought Romancing the stone was a bit meh, but maybe I missed something....

    1. If you like historical action movies, try Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (has sci-fi elements and is set in the 1920s-ish), The Three Musketeers that I mentioned here, and Troy.

    2. I watched Sky Captain and Troy as well. I don't really remember much about Sky Captain, maybe I should rewatch it. I thought Troy was kind of brutal...

      When I think of other action movies that I really liked recently, I think they all fall under your other categories: war, sci-fi, some superhero. So I'm curious after those lists!

    3. Well, those other lists will be coming soon!

      A lot of people were just kind of so-so about Sky Captain, but I really liked it. And yes, Troy is very violent.

      More lists coming soon! Once I decide which of those genres to tackle first...

  8. Wow, I don't know any of these movies. I did see "Romancing the Stone," but that was way back when in first came out, and I don't remember a thing about it. I love the TV series "The Fugitive," and I do like Tommy Lee Jones (love him in "Lonesome Dove"), so I bet I would enjoy that film.

    I always enjoy your "lists" posts. Thanks so much for doing them.

    1. Ohhhhhhhhhhh, if you like Tommy Lee Jones and/or Harrison Ford at all, you must see The Fugitive. It is wonderful.

      Thanks for the encouragement! They take a while to assemble, but these posts are lots of fun too.


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