Adaptations The Best Action Movies Based on Books  

Ranker Film
148 votes 18 voters 32 items

List Rules Only action movies based on or inspired by literature.

Reading may seem like a peaceful activity, but many of the best action films have been adapted from books. The best action movies based on novels feature suspenseful stories and exciting sequences. Many action films based on fiction have spawned several sequels. Some of the best action films based off books have even won Academy Awards.

What action movies that are also books will you find on this list? Jurassic Park has to be near the top. Based on Michael Crichton's 1990 novel of the same name, Jurassic Park found its action in the form of Chaos Theory, T-Rex chases, and Dino DNA. John Carpenter's masterpiece The Thing was adapted from the 1938 novella What Goes There?.

Joseph Leland was the protagonist in the book Nothing Lasts Forever and his name was changed to John McClane in the film Die Hard. Other good action movies based on books include Casino Royale, The Bourne Identity, and The Running Man.

Did you know so many action movies were based off books? Vote up the best films to move them up the list and please add any good action adaptations we may have missed. Then check back to see what new movies have been included on this list.

list ordered by
1
9 1
Die Hard is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia
Die Hard is a 1988 American action film directed by John McTiernan and written by Steven E. de Souza and Jeb Stuart. It is based on the 1979 novel Nothing Lasts Forever, by Roderick Thorp. Die ...more
2
10 2
The Untouchables is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Robert De Niro, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner
The Untouchables is a 1987 American drama film directed by Brian De Palma and written by David Mamet. Based on the book The Untouchables, the film stars Kevin Costner as government agent Eliot ...more
3
7 2
Jurassic Park is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough
Jurassic Park is a 1993 American science fiction adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg. It is the first installment of the Jurassic Park franchise. It is based on the 1990 novel of the ...more
4
5 2
The Bourne Identity is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Matt Damon, Clive Owen, Julia Stiles
The Bourne Identity is a 2002 American-German action spy film adaptation of Robert Ludlum's novel of the same name. It stars Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, a man suffering from extreme memory loss ...more
5
4 1
First Blood is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Sylvester Stallone, Brian Dennehy, David Caruso
First Blood is a 1982 American psychological thriller and action film directed by Ted Kotcheff, co-written by and starring Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo, a troubled and misunderstood veteran. ...more
6
3 0
Black Hawk Down is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Ewan McGregor, Tom Hardy, Orlando Bloom
Black Hawk Down is a 2001 American-British war film directed by Ridley Scott. It is an adaptation of the 1999 book of the same name by Mark Bowden based on his series of articles published in ...more
7
3 1
The Town is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Blake Lively, Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm
The Town is a 2010 American drama film starring, co-written and directed by Ben Affleck. The film opened in theaters in the United States on September 17, 2010, at number one with more than $23 ...more
8
3 1
Starship Troopers is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Neil Patrick Harris, Denise Richards, Amy Smart
Starship Troopers is a 1997 American military science fiction action film directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Edward Neumeier. The story follows a young soldier named Johnny Rico and his ...more
9
4 3
The Thing is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Kurt Russell, Keith David, John Carpenter
The Thing is a 1982 American science fiction horror film directed by John Carpenter, written by Bill Lancaster, and starring Kurt Russell. The film's title refers to its primary antagonist: a ...more
10
4 3
Minority Report is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell
Minority Report is a 2002 American neo-noir science fiction mystery-thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and loosely based on the short story of the same name by Philip K. Dick. It is set ...more
11
3 2
Casino Royale is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Alessandra Ambrosio, Eva Green, Daniel Craig
Casino Royale is the twenty-first film in the Eon Productions James Bond film series and the first to star Daniel Craig as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. Directed by Martin Campbell and ...more
12
2 1
The Bourne Supremacy is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, Michelle Monaghan
The Bourne Supremacy is a 2004 American-German action and spy film starring Robert Ludlum's Jason Bourne character. Though it takes the name of the second Bourne novel, its plot is entirely ...more
13
2 1
Jack Reacher is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Tom Cruise, Robert Duvall, Rosamund Pike
Jack Reacher is a 2012 American thriller film. It is an adaptation of Lee Child's 2005 novel One Shot. Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, the film stars Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher. ...more
14
2 1
The Bourne Ultimatum is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, Brian Cox
The Bourne Ultimatum is a 2007 American-German action spy thriller film directed by Paul Greengrass loosely based on the Robert Ludlum novel of the same title. The screenplay was written by Tony ...more
15
2 1
Clear and Present Danger is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe, James Earl Jones
Clear and Present Danger is a 1994 spy action thriller film directed by Phillip Noyce, based on Tom Clancy's book of the same name. It was preceded by the 1990 film The Hunt for Red October and ...more
16
3 3
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Aldis Hodge
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is a 2016 American action thriller film directed by Edward Zwick. Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) goes on the run with an Army Major (Cobie Smulders) who has been framed ...more
17
3 3
Ready Player One is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn
Ready Player One is a 2018 American science fiction adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg, based on the novel by Ernest Cline. Teenager Wade Owen Watts (Tye Sheridan), who frequents the ...more
18
2 2
The Hunger Games is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
The Hunger Games is a 2012 American dystopian science fiction adventure film directed by Gary Ross, based on the novel by Suzanne Collins. In a dystopian post-apocalyptic future in the nation of ...more
19
2 2
The Maze Runner is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Kaya Scodelario, Dylan O'Brien, Patricia Clarkson
The Maze Runner is a 2014 American science fiction dystopian action thriller film directed by Wes Ball, based on James Dashner's 2009 novel of the same name. The film is the first installment in ...more
20
2 2
Annihilation is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez
Annihilation is a 2018 science fantasy action horror film directed by Alex Garland, based on the novel by Jeff VanderMeer. A biologist (Natalie Portman) signs up for a dangerous, secret ...more
21
2 2
The Running Man is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Brown, Jesse Ventura
The Running Man is a 1987 American science fiction action film loosely based on the 1982 novel The Running Man, written by Stephen King and published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. ...more
22
2 2
Total Recall is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside
Total Recall is a 1990 American science fiction action film directed by Paul Verhoeven, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, and Sharon Stone. The film is loosely based on the Philip ...more
23
1 1
Drive is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Christina Hendricks, Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan
Drive is a 2011 American neo noir arthouse action directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Oscar Isaac and Albert Brooks. It is adapted from the ...more
24
1 1
V for Vendetta is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Natalie Portman, John Hurt, Hugo Weaving
V for Vendetta is a 2006 American political thriller film directed by James McTeigue and written by the Wachowski Brothers, based on the 1988 Vertigo graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore ...more
25
1 1
Death Wish is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
Jeff Goldblum, Charles Bronson, Christopher Guest
This film is a 1974 American vigilante action film loosely based on the novel of the same name by Brian Garfield. The film was directed by Michael Winner and stars Charles Bronson as a man who ...more