Readers' Poll: The 10 Best Action Movies of All Time - Rolling Stone
Home Movies Movie Lists

Readers’ Poll: The 10 Best Action Movies of All Time

Which action movie ranked above ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ ‘Terminator 2’ and ‘Rambo?’

First Blood/The Marix

Taken 3 exceeded even the most optimistic expectations this weekend by grossing nearly $40 million. That's pretty impressive considering it's the third Taken movie since 2008 and reviews were absolutely scathing. It's further evidence that audiences love a good action movie, and even a film that plays like a half-hearted remake of The Fugitive can rake in huge money. In honor of Taken 3's release, we asked our readers to vote for their favorite action movies of all time. Unsurprisingly, every single one of the Top 10 films came out of a franchise that arrived in theaters between 1979 and 2002. Here are the results.



The team that made 1987's Predator is filled to the brim with all stars. It features two future governors (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura), Carl "Apollo Creed" Weathers and it's directed by John McTiernan, the man who sent on to make Die Hard and Die Hard: With a Vengeance, clearly the two best of the saga. There was no way that team was gonna fail, and their movie about an elite group of soldiers that battle a killer alien while trying to free hostages in Central America is freakin' awesome. Not even a bad sequel and a cheapo mashup movie with Alien can minimize that.  

The Bourne Identity

‘The Bourne Identity’

When The Bourne Identity hit theaters back in the summer of 2002 Universal Studios, even in their wildest dreams, probably didn't think they were kicking off a franchise so massive it would eventually run on two parallel tracks and gross enough money to feed a small continent. It all started with this adaptation of Robert Ludlum's 1980 novel about a government agent whose memories have been erased. It grossed $214 million and generated two immediate sequels. Damon recently signed on for a fourth chapter, and Jeremy Renner also has his own Bourne movies going. That's a lot of Bourne, but if Universal thought it would be profitable they'd throw another three or four of them out there. 



The insane success of Star Wars in 1977 left studios scrambling to get their own science fiction films into the theater. That lead to the dreadful Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but also to the brilliant Alien by director Ridley Scott. The 1979 movie tells the story of a group of seven astronauts in the distant future that wake up prematurely from stasis and discover that a parasitic alien has wound up on their spacecraft. It's a greasy, ugly creature, but it's also incredibly smart and it picks them off one by one until Sigourney Weaver, playing the lone female crew member, blasts it out into open space. If she had any idea what horrors awaited her in the sequels she would have probably blast herself out too. 

Mad Max 2

‘Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior’

The second movie in a trilogy has the strong potential to be the strongest. The first movie, which often has a limited budget, has to establish the setting and backstory before it can dive into the main action. The third movie is often the work of an exhausted team quickly running out of steam, leaving number two as the best of the bunch. 

This is arguably the case with Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, George Miller's post-apocalyptic movies starring Mel Gibson as a former Main Force Patrol officer trying to survive in a dusty, hellish version of Australia. By this point, he's increasingly desperate, even losing his dog, but he agrees to help a besieged group of people defend their turf against a group of motorcyclists. The long-awaited fourth film is coming out this May, but with Tom Hardy taking over for Mel Gibson. 

Arrow Created with Sketch. Calendar Created with Sketch. Path Created with Sketch. Shape Created with Sketch. Plus Created with Sketch. minus Created with Sketch.