When considering action films of the 2010s, one might think of three things: overuse of explosions, computer-generated special effects, and jump cuts. While that stereotype isn’t entirely false for this decade’s action cinema, there are some action films that managed to stand out and become some of the most memorable films of the decade, if not all time. This list features the top five of those films, the best action films from the last 10 years.
#5: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
While 2018’s M:I – Fallout may have been an action masterclass with 2015’s M:I – Rogue Nation trailing not far behind, let’s not forget Ghost Protocol‘s remarkable feat of taking the action franchise to new heights.
Featuring a new cast of characters (save for Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt) and a high-stakes story, Ghost Protocol injects new life into the M:I series. It does this with nailbiting stuntwork and hard-hitting fight scenes, all wrapped up with some of the most intense storytelling ever featured in action cinema.
#4: Hardcore Henry (2015)
Hardcore Henry is an action film based on one premise: first-person perspective. Shot entirely with GoPro cameras strapped to actors’ heads, Hardcore Henry is deceptively captivating with dark humor, playful violence, and an underrated comedic performance from South African actor Sharlto Copley.
Arguably the most unique film on this list, Hardcore Henry felt like a twisted love-child of Call of Duty, Kill Bill, and District 13. And that climactic final battle featuring Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now? It’s icing on the cake. A little warning: may cause motion sickness.
#3: Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Critics have said that Fury Road is one of the best action films ever made. And they may be right: it’s got insane stuntwork, action sequences, cinematography, special effects, musical score, performances (quite literally), and to top it all off, a rock-solid story. All in all, it’s the most complete action film on this list.
What’s not to love about it? From Max’s frantic escape through the War Boys’ hideout at the beginning to the epic 100-car convoy pursuit at the film’s climax, Fury Road is one entertainingly crazy ride from start to finish. Or to quote the film, “What a lovely day!”
#2: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019)
If this list was made last year, precisely before the third John Wick film was released, then this spot would have been taken by Chapter 3‘s predecessor, John Wick: Chapter 2. But here we are with Chapter 3 conveniently sitting on the #2 spot, all because of one reason: it’s simply an improvement from Chapter 2.
Masterfully directed gun battle scenes? Chapter 3 has more of that. A story that expands on the lore and mythos established in the first two films? Chapter 3 has you covered. Gritty and creative fight scenes rivalling that of the pencil scene from Chapter 2? Chapter 3‘s got that. More Keanu Reeves? Check. More dogs? Check. In conclusion, it’s always a pleasure to see John Wick in action, and Chapter 3 is no exception.
#1: The Raid 2 (2014)
2011’s The Raid: Redemption may have been the best action film of that year, but the 2014 sequel to the Indonesian film is the best action film that the decade has to offer so far. Directed by Welshman Gareth Evans, The Raid 2 showcased the Indonesian martial arts pencak silat at its best: beautifully choreographed, skilfully shot, and flawlessly executed.
However, the one factor that made The Raid 2 the winner is its vast improvement over its predecessor in every aspect, from its story to its cinematography. Extra credit should be given to the grittier action sequences, which managed to spice things up by putting in a gun battle and a car chase along with the stellar martial arts scenes. Coupled with the fact that it’s managed to accomplish so much with a minuscule budget of $4.5 million, there is little doubt that The Raid 2 is the best action film of the 2010s.
This decade has seen some masterpieces, and with only months left before the 2020s, there is little room for surprises that can make this list. Obviously, there is more to action cinema than the five flicks showcased above, so do kindly put your preference at the comments section below!