Action movies have continued to evolve and improve over the years, with the last decade being a particularly fascinating time for fans of the genre. Superhero movies have taken center stage as hits from the Marvel Cinematic Universe consistently wow audiences and critics alike.
Letterboxd fans – a social media platform for movie fans – makes it easy for viewers to choose which action movies to watch. The top-rated films from each of the past ten years represent the best the genre has to offer and should be considered essential viewing for audiences who enjoy heart-pounding action films.
Why don’t you play in hell? (2013) – 3.90
Director Sion Sono takes audiences on a mad dash with a group of wacky filmmakers called the “F**k Bombers” as they attempt to create a blockbuster movie starring Yakuza gangs. Unsurprisingly, things spiral out of control when they realize they may have gotten more than they bargained for.
It’s a fast-paced action flick that’s definitely not for everyone, but those who enjoy frenetic movies with just enough absurdity and surrealism should definitely check it out. Why don’t you play in hell? manages to combine the chaotic shootouts, comedic moments, and meta commentary in an entertaining way, which still makes it worth watching today.
Haider (2014) – 3.98
An award-winning modern adaptation of William Shakespeare Hamletby director Vishal Bhardwaj Haider follows the eponymous protagonist as he returns to Kashmir to investigate the disappearance of his father. What follows is a gripping tale of political turmoil, conspiracy and love as the young poet finds himself increasingly embroiled in the turmoil of the region.
It’s the third entry in the director’s Shakespearean stint, and arguably the most daring to date. It unabashedly serves as a political commentary on the conflicts in Kashmir and their harrowing effects on individuals, portrayed through a hard-hitting tale of tragedy and revenge.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) – 4.15
Set in a post-apocalyptic future where people compete for necessities such as water, food, and (most importantly) gasoline, Mad Max: Fury Road tells the story of Max Rockatansky. Director George Miller portrays the protagonist’s journey as he encounters Imperator Furiosa, and the two resolve to bravely escape cult leader Immortan Joe’s deep-rooted influence in the dystopian setting.
From Max’s best quotes to the gripping chase scenes, fans have more than one reason to revisit the 2015 action flick. It brought the franchise to a wider audience and viewers continue naturally to claim more epic entries that delve even deeper into the wasteland of the desert and its inhabitants.
Train to Busan (2016) – 3.93
Director Yeon Sang-ho Train to Busan continues to be one of the best South Korean zombie films ever made. It centers around Seok-woo’s terrifying experience on a bullet train as the zombie apocalypse begins and reaches its passengers.
The action horror flick is a well-made zombie movie, as it’s impossible not to cheer on the admirable protagonist as he’s forced to face the things that really matter to him in his life. The film soon becomes less about the admittedly creepy undead and more about the tough decisions survivors must make in the face of disheartening circumstances.
Logan (2017) – 4.06
Fans who have seen director James Mangold Logan know that this is not your typical superhero movie. The gritty final installment of the Wolverine The trilogy describes the experiences of the protagonist holder in 2029, while he takes care of a sick Professor X while fighting against the deterioration of his own abilities. Everything changes for both of them when the young mutant, Laura, arrived.
Viewers see the best traits of the latest X-Man, as his compassion and bravery see him through the toughest parts of his journey with Laura. Although he no longer has the same strength as before, he does whatever it takes to protect her and do the right thing.
Spider-Man in the Spider-Verse (2018) – 4.44
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is often (and deservedly) credited with reinvigorating the thirst for superhero movies, especially those featuring the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. The film features some of the best characters in the spider worms as Miles Morales meets his multiversal counterparts.
The film has been praised for its unique, comic book-inspired animation, which is striking to say the least. Its action sequences will have viewers on the edge of their seats as they watch the Spideys’ attempts to jump from one multiverse to another, battle enemies together, and attempt to defeat Kingpin.
Avengers: Endgame (2019) – 3.93
Director Anthony and Joe Russo Avengers: Endgame is a superhero action film that does not need any introduction. The direct sequel to Infinity War follows the story of the surviving Avengers after Thanos’ devastating snap, as they hatch a plan to reverse its terrible effects on the world.
With its incredible visual effects and thrilling story, the sequel is an instant classic that further cemented the MCU’s place in cinematic history. It brought together several beloved storylines and characters seamlessly, with its perfectly choreographed action sequences being the icing on the cake.
Horsemen of Justice (2020) – 3.81
horsemen of justice is a criminally underrated action movie that follows the tragic story of Markus Hansen, who loses his wife in a train accident. When a group of men approach her and say it wasn’t an accident at all, they work together to find the perpetrators.
Director Anders Thomas Jensen does a great job of nailing the beloved elements of the genre. It doesn’t over-complicate the sequences or the plot, which makes the whole movie easy to follow and entertaining to watch. The Danish film also features one of Mads Mikkelsen’s most overlooked performances, as he plays the protagonist in a memorable and badass way.
Spider-Man: No Homecoming (2021) – 4.18
With Marvel favorites like Doctor Strange and returning characters like Doctor Octopus, Spider-Man: No Coming Home is one of the best franchise entries to date. It focuses on the struggle of Peter Parker as he deals with the effects of the revelation of his identity. He asked Dr. Strange magical solution to their problems, and they unwittingly open the multiverse in the process.
It’s a wild ride from the intro to the credits, as Spider-Man faces threats like never before. He also has to juggle his relationships amid the chaos, which highlights all the traits fans have come to love about the superhero.
Everything everywhere at once (2022) – 4.36
Evelyn Wang says goodbye to her relatively normal life when exposed to her endless versions of other universes in Everything everywhere all at once. She finds it hard to believe that she is the version that can save all the universes, but she soon learns that she is capable of amazing things.
The recently released film by A24 has already received positive reviews, thanks to its witty comedy, fresh take on the multiverse concept, brilliant cast, and heartfelt story. It’s quickly becoming one of the must-watch films of the year, as it’s an audience-pleaser that fans of the action and sci-fi genres are sure to appreciate.
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