15 Blockbuster Action Movies With The Most Jaw-Dropping Stunts
Whether you love high-octane car chases, epic battle scenes, or martial arts fight sequences, action movies deliver those thrills and more.
15 of the most exhilarating, pulse-pounding action films that will leave you gripping your seat
From spy films to superhero flicks, these movies have some of the most stunning visual sequences, practical effects and edge-of-your-seat moments ever filmed.
These classics demonstrate the incredible craft involved in choreographing and filming action as well as the talents of dedicated actors who immerse themselves in exhausting physical roles.
1. Die Hard (1988)
Perhaps the greatest one-man-army action movie ever made, Die Hard catapulted Bruce Willis to blockbuster stardom as off-duty cop John McClane.
While visiting his estranged wife on Christmas Eve, McClane finds himself trapped in a Los Angeles skyscraper seized by a ruthless group of terrorists led by the cunning Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman).
Barefoot and armed with only his wits and a service pistol, McClane wages a one-man war to save the hostages.
Fun Fact: Alan Rickman’s sinister Hans Gruber ranked No. 46 villain in AFI’s top 100 heroes and villains list.
Standout Moment: McClane jumping off the exploding roof while tied to a fire hose.
2. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
With Raiders of the Lost Ark, director Steven Spielberg and George Lucas teamed up to create one of the greatest action-adventure films in cinema history.
Harrison Ford achieves icon status as archaeologist Indiana Jones, who is hired by the U.S. government to find the legendary Ark of the Covenant before it falls into Nazi hands.
Indy must follow clues spanning the globe, outsmarting belligerent foes along the way with his quick thinking and proficiency with a whip.
Fun Fact: The famous boulder escape scene was done in one take, with Ford outrunning a real rolling boulder!
Standout Moment: Indy nonchalantly shooting the showboating swordsman demonstrated his ruthless ingenuity.
3. Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018)
As the sixth installment in the Mission: Impossible series, Fallout proves star Tom Cruise only gets better with age when it comes to action.
Reprising his role as IMF agent Ethan Hunt, Cruise pulls off astonishing feats at 56 without any CGI trickery.
Fun Fact: Cruise actually jumped from one building to another and piloted a helicopter for the major stunts.
Standout Moment: The vertigo-inducing bathroom fight scene filmed in one continuous take.
4. Fury Road (2015)
For pure relentless action and exhilarating filmmaking, George Miller’s return to the Mad Max wasteland stands unmatched.
Tom Hardy takes over the role of renegade hero Max Rockatansky, who reluctantly teams up with renegade Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) to escape the clutches of a tyrant named Immortan Joe.
Their flight across the barren desert ignites nonstop road war mayhem between factions featuring mind-blowing practical effects and acrobatic stunt performers.
Fun Fact: Hardy and Theron did extensive fight and stunt training to perform without doubles for uncut action immersion.
Standout Moment: The explosive pole cat sequence standing out among nonstop vehicle mayhem.
5. The Matrix (1999)
The sci-fi classic from The Wachowskis still feels groundbreaking in its concept of simulated reality and through its “bullet time” visual effects.
Keanu Reeves plays reluctant prophet Neo, who discovers the world everyone accepts as real is just a computer program created by machines who harvested humans.
Only by becoming “The One” foretold to end the war can Neo save humanity, which leads to him mastering gravity-defying combat skills.
Fun Fact: The simulated reality concept and existential themes inspired countless philosophers and theorists beyond cinema.
Standout Moment: Neo dodging bullets in superhuman fashion during the lobby shootout scene.
6. Casino Royale (2006)
Rebooting James Bond with Daniel Craig meant redefining the British superspy as more of a rugged, brutal physical force. Casino Royale introduces a young Bond earning his 00 status through two key action sequences.
First, the black-and-white pre-title parkour chase sets up Craig’s athletic, raw intensity by having Bond pursue a bomb-maker across obstacles at full speed.
Fun Fact: It marked the first true Bond origin story, earning critical and commercial success.
Standout Moment: The brutal, intimate bathroom fight scene between Bond and a double agent.
7. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
No modern action franchise better revolutionized the genre’s aesthetics than The Bourne Identity films starring Matt Damon as amnesiac CIA assassin Jason Bourne.
Seeking his true identity while still evading spy agencies, Damon concludes the trilogy with more frenetic action and edgy immediacy courtesy of Paul Greengrass’ directing.
Fun Fact: It won three Oscars including Best Editing for its kinetic style.
Standout Moment: Bourne’s attack on a CIA office using everyday objects.
8. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
While Raiders of the Lost Ark always stands out as Indy’s best adventure, The Last Crusade comes close thanks to pairing Harrison Ford’s roguish archaeologist with Sean Connery as his estranged father.
Their quest involves coming to emotional terms while pursuing the mythical Holy Grail as the Nazis also seek the artifact’s powers.
Some of the franchise’s most clever action sequences stem from their antagonistic partnership, like when Connery accidentally causes a flying wing to go up in flames during their escape.
Fun Fact: The real-life Connery is only 12 years older than Ford.
Standout Moment: Indy escaping a surging river by riding a nazi tank.
9. Police Story (1985)
Before becoming a martial arts legend in America, Jackie Chan rose to international stardom with this Hong Kong action classic cementing his fearless comedic style.
Chan plays Ka Kui, a dedicated cop forced to go outside the law to clear his name after being framed for murder. The plot serves as a skeletal excuse for Chan to showcase insane death-defying stunt work mixed with his trademark slapstick skills.
Fun Fact: Chan performed all stunts himself including the three-story mall slide smash that nearly killed him.
Standout Moment: The destruction-filled fight inside and on top of a double decker bus.
10. Seven Samurai (1954)
Though best known for pioneering Eastern Westerns like Yojimbo and modern samurai epics like Ran, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai also stands as one of the most influential early action films.
During the Sengoku period of Japan, a village recruits seven masterless samurai to help defend against ruthless bandits intent on stealing their harvest.
With little time to prepare, the samurai train the peasants and construct fortifications before the enemy horde arrives.
Fun Fact: Its influence spans sci-fi classics, westerns like Magnificent Seven, and superhero teams like Guardians of the Galaxy.
Standout Moment: Kyuzo battling an adversarial samurai in the rain to prove his skill.
11. Titanic (1997)
James Cameron’s romantic disaster epic may be better known for launching Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet’s careers as doomed lovers, but it also excels at mixing action and spectacle.
For sheer intensity, it’s hard to top the extended sinking sequence after the Titanic collides with an iceberg. As the “unsinkable” ship begins to founder, Cameron captures the escalating panic and human desperation through breathtaking technical mastery.
Fun Fact: It used massive hydraulic gimbal sets and pioneering visual effects to depict the ship’s sinking.
Standout Moment: The flooding grand staircase as passengers scramble to survive.
12. Kill Bill (2003)
With Kill Bill, Quentin Tarantino paid stylistic homage to martial arts films and spaghetti westerns through Uma Thurman’s revenge-filled bloodbath.
As deadly assassin “The Bride”, she methodically hunts down former teammates comprising the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad who betrayed her, including Bill (David Carradine).
Each eccentric nemesis provides bloody showdowns on her path to Bill, from Lucy Liu’s sword-wielding yakuza leader to Daryl Hannah’s deranged Elle Driver.
Fun Fact: Uma Thurman was trained by martial arts legend Yuen Woo-Ping to perform action herself.
Standout Moment: The Bride’s deathmatch with legendary samurai swordsman Bill after battling the Crazy 88s.
13. Sicario (2015)
More of a suspenseful thriller than non-stop action, Sicario nevertheless balances tension with explosive moments thanks to director Denis Villeneuve’s grasp of violence.
Emily Blunt stars as an idealistic FBI agent who gets a harsh education on the morally murky tactics required in the war on drugs.
She eventually joins an interagency task force led by Josh Brolin’s mysterious operative on a mission into Mexico to take down a cartel kingpin.
Fun Fact: Roger Deakins’ cinematography contributed to the ominous, visceral mood with stunning visual contrasts.
Standout Moment: A bloody shootout between FBI agents and cartel hitmen.
14. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Tom Cruise finds himself in an action-packed sci-fi version of Groundhog Day as Major William Cage, a military PR officer demoted and forced onto the front lines of a battle against alien invaders.
Each time Cage dies, he immediately wakes up before the fight and retains skill memories. Teaming with Emily Blunt’s Rita Vrataski, the only other human sharing this time-loop ability, Cage must improve enough to destroy the aliens.
Fun Fact: It’s based on the Japanese novel All You Need Is Kill, adapted into a creative action movie premise.
Standout Moment: Rita’s stunning mech suit combat during the final battle.
15. Independence Day (1996)
Independence Day helped cement the popularity of CGI-driven disaster action movies through Roland Emmerich’s bombastic invasion spectacle.
When massive alien ships position themselves over major cities, Will Smith’s Marine Corps pilot becomes instrumental to humanity’s last stand.
Between fiery destruction raining down from the gigantic ships to the climactic aerial attack on the alien’s weak spot, Emmerich destroy cities with gleeful abandon.
Fun Fact: The White House explosion was a scale model with fireworks timed perfectly.
Standout Moment: The final aerial attack sequence against the alien ship’s weak spot.
Whether you seek nonstop combat thrills or memorable characters rising to heroic challenges, these 15 movies showcase the heights of achievement possible in action filmmaking.
Through dedication from stunt performers and actors along with visionary directors, action classics like these continue gripping audiences no matter how times change.
So grab a seat, brace for adrenaline overload, and enjoy the greatest, most exhilarating action sequences ever captured on film!