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A Decade of Action: 90's Best Action Films

Updated on June 12, 2017

Like the action films in the 80's, the 90's also produced some of the best films of that genre. Many films come to mind when talking about action flicks form the 90's. I feel that the 90's changed the formula for great action films. Plots became more intellectual and more clever. Action films dared to cast different action heroes rather than you type cast muscular characters. So, sit back and enjoy the list of what I believe to be the ten best action films for the 1990's. Now would be the time to get your popcorn ready.

10. Point Break (1991)

Surf's up in this one of kind action packed film. Two big stars collide in this action thriller that combines surfing and bank robbery's together for an unforgettable ride. Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze face off in this action film. Reeves plays an undercover F.B.I. agent who is trying to catch a group of bank robbers who seem to be getting better and better after each heist they pull. As Reeves gets deeper undercover he begins to realize that there may be a connection between these local talented surfers and the criminals who are pulling off these heists.

What makes this movie great, is the different stunts and action sequences that have never before been put in an action film. From skydiving, to catching the big wave, Point Break delivers action on many levels.

9. True Lies (1994)

Arnold Schwarzenegger is no stranger to action films. He has built his career on being the typical action hero. True Lies is a bit of a different action film with a lot more depth and great amount of killing bad guys. But it also adds some great humor and a pretty respectable plot. James Cameron steps away from his usual science fiction flicks to direct this outstanding action spy thriller. Schwarzenegger plays Harry Tasker, a secret agent who specializes in catching terrorists for the USA. But wait there is more. See not only does he have to battle a group of terrorists in this film, he also has to deal with the suspicion that his wife maybe having an affair. When both of Tasker's worlds come together, the recipe for disaster begins to be made.

With great action scenes, humorous dialogue and a great storyline, True Lies will not disappoint fellow action film buffs.

8. Bad Boys (1995)

Bad Boys bad boys, what ya gonna do? Most of us know the theme song from the reality show COPS. But do you know the Michael Bay action comedy film, Bad Boys? Well if not, you should get familiar with it because it is a great film and one of my favorite movies. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are partners who will stop at nothing to catch their bad guys. Part of the Miami police department of narcotics, Smith and Lawrence are two cops who must protect a witness while trying to solve the case of a large amount of heroin stole from police headquarters.

Loaded with laughs and a whole lot of action, Bad Boys is a great action film that is still a favorite for many today. It also helped launch Will Smith's movie career and made Michael Bay one of the best action directors in the business.

7. Speed (1994)

Pop quiz hot shot, there's a bomb on a bus, what do you do? Well, that's the plot for what many call the mobile Die Hard film. Speed is an action packed suspense thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat. Keanu Reeves plays Jack, a LAPD cop who tries to stop a serial bomber from blowing up a bus with hostages on it after his elevator bombing failed. The catch, once the bus goes over 50 miles per hour, the bomb is activated. If the bus slows down and goes under 50 miles per hour, the bus will explode. Jack must find out which bus it is and make sure that he can get the hostages to safety and make sure the bus does not explode in the city of Los Angeles. With many obstacles in the way, and the bomber keeping an eye on the whole situation, Speed is a one of kind action thriller.

The first time I saw this film, I was literally worn out when the film was over. Speed offers a different type of action thriller without having to shoot up everyone.

6. The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

Imagine that you got amnesia. That what you thought was your normal life was actually far from what you were really used to doing. Meet Samantha Caine, your typical mom and teacher who is a great homemaker. But, as soon as her past comes the haunt her, she realizes she use to be far more dangerous then what she remembers she hires a private detective to help uncover her past. Samuel L. Jackson costars in this action packed movie and also provides the comic relief throughout the film.

This movie offers a clever plot and is nothing short of action. This is one of my favorite Samuel L. Jackson films and it has some unique action scenes that put it a cut above the rest.

5. Die Hard: With A Vengeance (1995)

If a Die Hard movie is made within a decade, then it will most likely be on my action list. And at number 5, the third installment of the action franchise puts the not so typical action hero back in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bruce Willis is back as the iconic John McClane. This time he is in his own territory and must race against time to diffuse several bombs that have been placed throughout the city of New York. Along side McClane is a civilian, played by Samuel L. Jackson, who wants nothing to do with this situation has now become McClane's unofficial partner. While the two are out trying to unarm these bombs which are programmed with a riddle, the terrorist are seizing all the cold in many of the infamous banks of NYC.

Gun fights, car chases, subway bombings and a whole lot more make Die Hard: With a Vengeance a great and classic action film. Bruce Willis is at his best as the heroic cop John McClane.

4. The Rock (1996)

Michael Bay's follow up to Bad Boys take action movies to whole other level. He took Nicolas Cage and made him the unethical action hero in this hostage action film. Bay also took Sean Connery and made him an action stud as well. The Rock is about former military soldiers who go rouge and take 81 hostages on the former prison now tourist site Alcatraz. Not only do they have hostages, but they have many rockets pointed at the city of San Francisco loaded with a new type of chemical warfare substance that can create substantial problems for the city. Cage, the chemist, and Connery, the criminal, join forces to try to stop the terrorists from succeeding at citywide destruction.

This film stands out to me because not only does it have an almost perfect recipe for a terrific action film, it also takes an unordinary cast of talent and puts them in situations where they have never been before.

3. Face/Off (1997)

In order to catch, he must become him. The tag line for one of the greatest action films ever, Face/Off brings two juggernauts of talent to go head to head is this one of a kind movie. Now that Nicolas Cage has one action film under his belt, he returns to the genre with an even greater action flick. Cage costars with John Travolta who both deliver an epic performance that sometimes you forget you are watching an action film. Cage plays Caster Troy a terrorist for hire. He specializes in many forms of terrorism and makes a great deal of money doing it. Travolta plays Sean Archer, the vengeful F.B.I. agent who wants nothing more than to bring down Troy and his gang. In order to do so, Archer must transform physically into the one person he despises in order to learn the location of the latest bomb set to level the city of Los Angeles. John Woo directs a wonderful and talented cast and adds his suave action gun battles that are just flat out amazing.

Great and awesome action scenes with outstanding performances makes Face/Off a top notch for unique and kick ass action.

2. The Matrix (1999)

What if the world you knew was just all make believe and you were destined for pretty much the survival of the human race? Computer hacker Neo, played by Keanu Reeves thinks the world he lives in is the real deal. Until that one phone call sets his world spiraling out of control and he realizes that the reality he knew was not reality at all. Welcome to the Matrix. A science fiction action film that took fighting action scenes and added a visual creativeness like never before seen on the big screen. The Matrix revolutionized action scenes and paved the road for many films whose copy cat action sequences that do not hold a candle to this film. Martial arts, gun slinging battles, creative plot with plot twists and one collection of talented actors puts the Matrix towards the top for a reason.

I was blown away when I saw this film in theaters. I didn't really know to much about the film when I went to see it. I normally do not see films in the movies more than once but other than Jurassic Park, I saw the Matrix three times. Enough said. This film is amazing on so many levels.

1. Terminator 2: Judgement Day

He's back! Arnold Schwarzenegger is back as the cyborg from the future. James Cameron's second terminator film takes the franchise to a whole other level. This time, sent from the future to protect John Connor, the son of Sarah Connor, Schwarzenegger must battle against another, more advanced terminator known as the t-1000. The T-1000 can shape shift into most anything it would like causing much confusion and conflict for the Terminator and the Connors. An advanced cyborg made of liquid metal causes turmoil and makes protecting John and Sarah the biggest challenge yet in Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

I don't really think I have to go into detail on why this film made the number one spot on the list. It still today looks great on film and the special effects are still just as believable as they were when I first saw this film.

The End

Well, before I go, I just want to say that this list was definitely a lot harder to make than the 80's action film list. So many great action films not only came out in the 90's, but dared take a new stance on making action films more clever than just putting a huge muscular man with a bunch of guns shooting up bad guys. Action films became much more clever and unique in the 90's. They also took many talented actors and made them action stars that were more realistic and average. So, I am sure many of you would add a few different films here and there, but overall I am pretty satisfied with my list. Would you agree on this list? What would you add or subtract? What order would you do if you think it should be in a different order?

Do you agree with the order of this list of 90's action films?

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    • Fullerman5000 profile image

      Ryan Fuller 7 months ago from Louisiana, USA

      Both great films. The Matrix is a bit untouchable when it comes to action and science fiction.

    • Craypoe profile image

      Bob Craypoe 7 months ago from New Jersey

      All good movies. I probably like the Matrix and Die Hard movies the most though.

    • Fullerman5000 profile image

      Ryan Fuller 7 months ago from Louisiana, USA

      After I made this list I wanted to watch them all again

    • NBYomi profile image

      N B Yomi 7 months ago from Dallas, TX

      Impressive, if not nostalgic list... I feel old.