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The Best Action Movies Based on Books

Updated August 8, 2019 846 votes 78 voters 4.7k views32 items

List RulesOnly 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.

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  • 1
    Jurassic Park is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
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    Jurassic Park

    Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum

    Released1993

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

    Jurassic Park is a 1993 American science fiction adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg.... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 2
    Die Hard is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
    29
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    Die Hard

    Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman

    Released1988

    Directed byJohn McTiernan

    Die Hard is a 1988 American action film directed by John McTiernan and written by Steven E. de... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 3
    The Untouchables is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
    27
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    The Untouchables

    Robert De Niro, Sean Connery

    Released1987

    Directed byBrian De Palma

    The Untouchables is a 1987 American drama film directed by Brian De Palma and written by David... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 4
    Casino Royale is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
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    Casino Royale

    Alessandra Ambrosio, Eva Green

    Released2006

    Directed byMartin Campbell

    Casino Royale is the twenty-first film in the Eon Productions James Bond film series and the... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 5
    First Blood is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
    21
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    First Blood

    Sylvester Stallone, Brian Dennehy

    Released1982

    Directed byTed Kotcheff

    First Blood is a 1982 American psychological thriller and action film directed by Ted... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 6
    The Hunger Games is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
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    The Hunger Games

    Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson

    Released2012

    Directed byGary Ross

    The Hunger Games is a 2012 American dystopian science fiction adventure film directed by Gary... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 7
    The Bourne Identity is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
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    The Bourne Identity

    Matt Damon, Clive Owen

    Released2002

    Directed byDoug Liman

    The Bourne Identity is a 2002 American-German action spy film adaptation of Robert Ludlum's... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 8
    The Bourne Ultimatum is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
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    The Bourne Ultimatum

    Matt Damon, Julia Stiles

    Released2007

    Directed byPaul Greengrass

    The Bourne Ultimatum is a 2007 American-German action spy thriller film directed by Paul... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 9
    Black Hawk Down is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
    20
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    Black Hawk Down

    Ewan McGregor, Tom Hardy

    Released2001

    Directed byRidley Scott

    Black Hawk Down is a 2001 American-British war film directed by Ridley Scott. It is an... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 10
    Patriot Games is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
    19
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    Patriot Games

    Harrison Ford, Samuel L. Jackson

    Released1992

    Directed byPhillip Noyce

    Patriot Games is a 1992 action-suspense film directed by Phillip Noyce and based on Tom... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 11
    The Bourne Supremacy is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
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    The Bourne Supremacy

    Matt Damon, Julia Stiles

    Released2004

    Directed byPaul Greengrass

    The Bourne Supremacy is a 2004 American-German action and spy film starring Robert Ludlum's... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 12
    Minority Report is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
    18
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    Minority Report

    Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise

    Released2002

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

    Minority Report is a 2002 American neo-noir science fiction mystery-thriller film directed by... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 13
    Clear and Present Danger is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
    16
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    Clear and Present Danger

    Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe

    Released1994

    Directed byPhillip Noyce

    Clear and Present Danger is a 1994 spy action thriller film directed by Phillip Noyce, based... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 14
    The Hunt for Red October is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
    19
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    The Hunt for Red October

    Alec Baldwin, Sean Connery

    Released1990

    Directed byJohn McTiernan

    The Hunt for Red October is a 1990 American submarine spy-thriller film directed by John... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 15
    V for Vendetta is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
    16
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    V for Vendetta

    Natalie Portman, John Hurt

    Released2005

    Directed byJames McTeigue

    V for Vendetta is a 2006 American political thriller film directed by James McTeigue and... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 16
    Total Recall is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
    16
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    Total Recall

    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone

    Released1990

    Directed byPaul Verhoeven

    Total Recall is a 1990 American science fiction action film directed by Paul Verhoeven. In... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 17
    Death Wish is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
    13
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    Death Wish

    Jeff Goldblum, Charles Bronson

    Released1974

    Directed byMichael Winner

    This film is a 1974 American vigilante action film loosely based on the novel of the same name... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 18
    Starship Troopers is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
    14
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    Starship Troopers

    Neil Patrick Harris, Denise Richards

    Released1997

    Directed byPaul Verhoeven

    Starship Troopers is a 1997 American military science fiction action film directed by Paul... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 19
    The Running Man is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
    13
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    The Running Man

    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Brown

    Released1987

    Directed byPaul Michael Glaser

    The Running Man is a 1987 American science fiction action film loosely based on the 1982 novel... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 20
    Planet of the Apes is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
    12
    12

    Planet of the Apes

    Mark Wahlberg, Helena Bonham Carter

    Released2001

    Directed byTim Burton

    Planet of the Apes is a 2001 American science fiction film directed by Tim Burton and starring... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 21
    Drive is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
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    Drive

    Christina Hendricks, Ryan Gosling

    Released2011

    Directed byNicolas Winding

    Drive is a 2011 American neo noir arthouse action directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, starring... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 22
    Jack Reacher is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
    11
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    Jack Reacher

    Tom Cruise, Robert Duvall

    Released2012

    Directed byChristopher McQuarrie

    Jack Reacher is a 2012 American thriller film. It is an adaptation of Lee Child's 2005 novel... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 23
    I, Robot is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
    10
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    I, Robot

    Will Smith, Shia LaBeouf

    Released2004

    Directed byAlex Proyas

    I, Robot is a 2004 American dystopian science fiction action film directed by Alex Proyas. The... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 24
    Ready Player One is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
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    Ready Player One

    Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke

    Released2018

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

    Ready Player One is a 2018 American science fiction adventure film directed by Steven... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 25
    The Thing is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Action Movies Based on Books
    11
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    The Thing

    Kurt Russell, Keith David

    Released1982

    Directed byJohn Carpenter

    The Thing is a 1982 American science fiction horror film directed by John Carpenter, written... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
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