The Top 10 Action Movies of the Decade!

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Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Edge of Tomorrow.

This under appreciated Tom Cruise sci-fi film made decent money at the box office, but it wasn't a smashing hit.  It's my view that audiences under appreciated the cleverness of this film about a soldier in a future war against invading aliens, that re-lives the same battle over and over again (until he gets it perfect!)  With some of the most stunning battle scenes ever filmed - as the film attempts to re-create D-Day with a futuristic alien twist - and a mind bending plot, it's a film worth more than a few viewings.  It's one of the biggest (and best) sci-fi action films of the last ten years. 

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Lone Survivor (2013)

Lone Survivor. Universal Pictures

One of the best Afghanistan films, one of the best Navy SEAL films, and one of the best films about being overrun, this "sorta" true story about Navy SEALs being heavily outgunned in Afghanistan is essentially a two hour firefight.  It's a film that starts the action early on and doesn't let up until the last frame and it's thrilling.  Strange, I suppose that traumatic events for real-life soldiers should later become thrilling entertainment for Americans back home, but that's the way it is with action and war films.  They exist to simultaneously let us marvel at the heroes of the films, but to also vicariously experience a thrill through the cinematic interpretation of their real life trauma.  Like Blackhawk Down, this is a film that will be remembered for decades to come and hence, makes this list for top action films of the decade!

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John Wick (2014)

One of the best "gun" action movies ever made.  That's probably because the film was made by stunt instructors that seemingly saved up their best moves for their own film.  It's one of those combination martial art / gun battle films, this one where the protagonist, a hitman played by Keanu Reeves, inhabits a strange world where hitmen are a normal profession, and exist in a community where they all know one another.  If people getting karate chopped in the throat and shot in increasingly more creative ways is your idea of a good time, this is the film for you.

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Looper (2012)

Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star in this film written and directed by Rian Johnson (Star Wars Episode 8).  If you haven't heard of this film, which didn't draw huge crowds but has a sort of cult following, you're missing out on one of the most creative, deranged, and trip sci-fi action films of the last decade.  In short, the film starts with the intriguing premises that loopers are hitmen that are paid lucratively in the present to kill individuals who are sent back in time by crime lords of the future - with the catch that one day, the person who is sent back they are to kill, is their future selves.  This way there's no evidence of the crimes they committed.  All goes well until Joseh Gordon-Levitt's future self comes back as Bruce Willis and escapes.  It's worth noting that this mind bending set-up is just the beginning of a highly rewarding story.  Lots of violence, too.

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Crank (2006)

This perpetual motion action movie has one of the most ingenious (and outlandish) action film plots ever created:  Chev, the film's hero - played by Jason Stratham - is given some "magical Hollywood" injection poison at the film's start whereby he'll die - unless, that is, he can keep his heart rate up above a certain level.  It's sort of like the film Speed where Keanu had to keep the bus moving at a certain clip, except it's played out with the human body.  What follows is 90 minutes of Stratham having to get into car wrecks, start fights, and snort huge amounts of cocaine so that his heart never slows down, all the while he tries to find the villain who did this to him, that he hopes might also have an antidote.  It doesn't get much more wild than this.

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Inception (2010)

Inception, Leonardo DiCaprio's dream stealing caper, certainly makes the decade's list for the most creative action film.  With numerous action scenes set within the dream world, the filmmakers weren't restrained by the laws of physics or geography - which is how we got such mind bending scenes like the hallway fight, where the laws of gravity apparently don't apply.  

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Salt (2010)

Angelina Jolie's attempt at playing a female version of Mission Impossible's Ethan Hunt was a big hit both critically and at the box office.  Moreover, the film succeeds as an action film of outsized ambitions, with massive action set pieces taking place in the middle of Washington D.C. and with the stakes being no less than the life of the President of the United States, himself.  It's big, silly, fun and Angelina pulls it off smoothly.  Why did they never make a sequel to this?

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Sicario (2015)

Number nine on our list is Sicario.  If Salt represents outsized action film ambition and silly but fun action scenes, Sicario is this list's placeholder for somber realism and political intrigue played out along the U.S. / Mexican border as Federal agents make a series of illegal incursions into Mexico with Delta Force in tow.  The action scenes are modest, but only because they're constrained by what you imagine is actually possible in real life, and this realism gives them an intensity that films like Salt or Mission Impossible could only dream of.

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Skyfall (2012)

Skyfall was the biggest grossing James Bond film of all time, and for most critics and fans, one of the best James Bond films of all time, across all James Bond actors.  This is the Bond film that singularly re-energized the franchise, ensured the next few Bond films financially, and set the bar for both Bond and non-Bond action films.  (Unfortunately, it also made Spectre look relatively weak in comparison!)

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Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Mad Max
Mad Max. Mad Max

I've raved endlessly about Mad Max: Fury Road.  It wasn't just one of the most creative, well-made, and intense chase films of all time, but it was one of those rare action films that will be remembered as a benchmark film of importance.  Immediately upon viewing the film, I knew that it belonged alongside films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Terminator, Lethal Weapon, and other landmark action films of cinematic importance.  Years from now, filmmakers and fans will be looking back upon this film as the model for how it's done.