When you compile a list of the greatest action movies ever made, the first question you have to ask is: what's an action movie? An action movie should thrill, consistently, stringing together a combination of speed, stunts, shock-ya twists, and simple acts of heroism. Fights, shootouts, chases, and explosions are part of the DNA, but there's no quota. And size matters; Star Wars, The Avengers, and so many modern summer blockbusters are emphatically epic, deserving of their own classification: "spectacle." The pulsating truck robbery and bank heist sequences from Michael Mann's Heat are both legendary, but they're also a small fraction of the crime saga's three-hour runtime. To whittle down this list, we had to divide "movies with action" from "action movies."
Pickiness left us with plenty of classics and underrated gems to choose from. This was an impossible task. Hovering below the final cut are films like Bad Boys, Ong-Bak, Midnight Run, Mad Max: Fury Road, Pirates of the Caribbean, The General, Ronin, Run Lola Run, and Spider-Man 2. Which is nuts. So buckle up, blast a Hans Zimmer soundtrack, and dive into the 33 best action movies of all time.