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The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert

Updated March 3, 2020 657 votes 140 voters 9.2k views24 items

The hot sun. The drifting sand. The shimmering mirages. There's something inherently cinematic about the desert, and it continues to be a go-to location for action-packed movies. The best action and adventure desert movies feature life or death situations at every turn. This is a list of the top desert action movies including everything from The Mummy to Dune to The Jewel of the Nile.

What films will you find on this list of the best movies set in the desert? Maybe your number-one pick will be Mad Max: Fury Road. Following in the footsteps of previous films from the franchise, Fury Road takes place in a dystopian wasteland void of compassion and, crucially, water. Tremors is another good action movie set in the desert. The Way Back finds an international group of refugees crossing vast deserts and freezing mountains to escape a Soviet gulag during World War II. Other good projects featured here include Beyond the Reach and Three Kings.

Which desert adventure film is the best? Give your favorites a thumbs up and add any great features that are missing.

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  • 1
    Mad Max: Fury Road
    43
    12

    Mad Max: Fury Road

    Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron

    Released2015

    Directed byGeorge Miller

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  • 2
    Stargate
    28
    8

    Stargate

    Kurt Russell, James Spader

    Released1994

    Directed byRoland Emmerich

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  • 3
    Jarhead
    25
    9

    Jarhead

    Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx

    Released2005

    Directed bySam Mendes

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  • 4
    Mad Max 2
    24
    9

    Mad Max 2

    Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence

    Released1981

    Directed byGeorge Miller

    Mad Max 2 is a 1981 Australian post-apocalyptic action film directed by George Miller. The... more on Wikipedia
  • 5
    The Mummy
    35
    22

    The Mummy

    Rachel Weisz, Brendan Fraser

    Released1999

    Directed byStephen Sommers

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  • 6
    Tremors
    24
    11

    Tremors

    Kevin Bacon, Reba McEntire

    Released1990

    Directed byRon Underwood

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  • 7
    The Flight of the Phoenix
    20
    9

    The Flight of the Phoenix

    James Stewart, Richard Attenborough

    Released1965

    Directed byRobert Aldrich

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  • 8
    The Mummy Returns
    21
    11

    The Mummy Returns

    Dwayne Johnson, Rachel Weisz

    Released2001

    Directed byStephen Sommers

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  • 9
    Dune
    21
    11

    Dune

    Sting, Patrick Stewart

    Released1984

    Directed byDavid Lynch

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  • 10
    The Jewel of the Nile
    17
    7

    The Jewel of the Nile

    Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito

    Released1985

    Directed byLewis Teague, David Teague

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  • 11
    Sahara
    19
    15

    Sahara

    Penélope Cruz, Matthew McConaughey

    Released2005

    Directed byBreck Eisner

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  • 12
    Sahara
    1
    4

    Sahara

    Brooke Shields, John Mills

    Released1984

    Directed byAndrew V. McLaglen

    Sahara is a 1983 British-American adventure drama film directed by Andrew McLaglen and... more on Wikipedia
  • 13
    Sahara
    15
    11

    Sahara

    Jim Belushi, Michael Massee

    Released1995

    Directed byBrian Trenchard-Smith

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  • 14
    The Way Back
    14
    10

    The Way Back

    Colin Farrell, Saoirse Ronan

    Released2010

    Directed byPeter Weir

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  • 15
    Rabbit-Proof Fence
    12
    9

    Rabbit-Proof Fence

    Kenneth Branagh, Jason Clarke

    Released2002

    Directed byPhillip Noyce

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  • 16
    Three Kings
    13
    12

    Three Kings

    George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg

    Released1999

    Directed byDavid O. Russell

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  • 17
    Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
    13
    11

    Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

    Gemma Arterton, Jake Gyllenhaal

    Released2010

    Directed byMike Newell

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  • 18
    Flight of the Phoenix
    10
    8

    Flight of the Phoenix

    Hugh Laurie, Jared Padalecki

    Released2004

    Directed byJohn Moore

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  • 19
    Tank Girl
    11
    12

    Tank Girl

    Naomi Watts, Ice-T

    Released1995

    Directed byRachel Talalay

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  • 20
    Holes
    8
    12

    Holes

    Shia LaBeouf, Sigourney Weaver

    Released2003

    Directed byAndrew Davis

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  • 21
    The Scorpion King
    7
    13

    The Scorpion King

    Dwayne Johnson, Kelly Hu

    Released2002

    Directed byChuck Russell

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  • 22
    Inferno
    7
    13

    Inferno

    Alida Valli, Veronica Lazăr

    Released1980

    Directed byDario Argento

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  • 23
    Beyond the Reach
    6
    13

    Beyond the Reach

    Michael Douglas, Jeremy Irvine
  • 24
    Desert Saints
    0
    11

    Desert Saints

    Kiefer Sutherland, Rachel Ticotin

    Released2002

    Desert Saints is a 2002 crime thriller film starring Kiefer Sutherland as a hitman named... more on Wikipedia