Film The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert  

Ranker Film
138 votes 58 voters 3.2k views 23 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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Mad Max: Fury Road is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Mad Max: Fury Road Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Hugh Keays-Byrne Mad Max: Fury Road is a 2015 action film directed by George Miller. In a post apocalyptic desert wasteland where gasoline and water are scarce commodities, Max Rockatansky (Max Hardy) joins ...more

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The Mummy is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
The Mummy Rachel Weisz, Brendan Fraser, Patricia Velásquez The Mummy is a 1999 American fantasy adventure film written and directed by Stephen Sommers and starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, and Kevin J. O'Connor, with Arnold Vosloo in ...more

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Mad Max 2 is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Mad Max 2 Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Vernon Wells Mad Max 2 is a 1981 Australian post-apocalyptic action film directed by George Miller. The film is the second installment in the Mad Max film series, with Mel Gibson starring as Max Rockatansky. ...more

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The Mummy Returns is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
The Mummy Returns Dwayne Johnson, Rachel Weisz, Brendan Fraser The Mummy Returns, is a 2001 American fantasy adventure film written and directed by Stephen Sommers, starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Oded Fehr, Patricia ...more

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Stargate is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Stargate Kurt Russell, James Spader, Djimon Hounsou Stargate is a 1994 French-American adventure science fiction film released through Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Carolco Pictures. Created by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, the film is the first ...more

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The Flight of the Phoenix is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
The Flight of the Phoenix James Stewart, Richard Attenborough, Ernest Borgnine The Flight of the Phoenix is a 1965 American drama film starring James Stewart, produced and directed by Robert Aldrich, and based on the 1964 novel The Flight of the Phoenix by Elleston Trevor. ...more

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Holes is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Holes Shia LaBeouf, Sigourney Weaver, Patricia Arquette Holes is a 2003 American comedy-drama adventure film based on the 1998 novel of the same title by Louis Sachar, with Shia LaBeouf as the lead role of Stanley Yelnats IV and also starring Khleo ...more

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Sahara is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Sahara Penélope Cruz, Matthew McConaughey, William H. Macy Sahara, an American/Spanish 2005 action–comedy adventure film directed by Breck Eisner, is based on the best-selling book of the same name by Clive Cussler. It stars Matthew McConaughey, Steve ...more

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Tremors is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Tremors Kevin Bacon, Reba McEntire, Fred Ward Tremors is a 1990 American western monster film directed by Ron Underwood, written by Brent Maddock, S. S. Wilson and Underwood, and starring Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Finn Carter, Michael Gross, ...more

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Rabbit-Proof Fence is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Rabbit-Proof Fence Kenneth Branagh, Jason Clarke, Deborah Mailman Rabbit-Proof Fence is a 2002 Australian drama film directed by Phillip Noyce based on the book Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington Garimara. It is based on a true story concerning ...more

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Jarhead is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Jarhead Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx, John Krasinski Jarhead is a 2005 biographical drama war film based on U.S. Marine Anthony Swofford's 2003 memoir of the same name, directed by Sam Mendes, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Swofford with Jamie Foxx, ...more

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The Jewel of the Nile is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
The Jewel of the Nile Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito, Michael Douglas The Jewel of the Nile is a 1985 action-adventure romantic comedy and a sequel to the 1984 film Romancing the Stone, with Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, and Danny DeVito reprising their roles. ...more

The Best Horror Movies Set in the Woods

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The Way Back is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
The Way Back Colin Farrell, Saoirse Ronan, Ed Harris The Way Back is a 2010 epic drama film directed by Peter Weir, from a screenplay by Weir and Keith Clarke. The film is inspired by The Long Walk, the memoir by former Polish POW Sławomir Rawicz, ...more

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Three Kings is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Three Kings George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube Three Kings is a 1999 satirical war-comedy film written and directed by David O. Russell from a story by John Ridley about a gold heist that takes place during the 1991 Iraqi uprising against ...more

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Flight of the Phoenix is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Flight of the Phoenix Hugh Laurie, Jared Padalecki, Dennis Quaid Flight of the Phoenix is a 2004 survival drama film and a remake of a 1965 film of the same name, both based on the 1964 novel The Flight of the Phoenix, by Elleston Trevor, about a group of ...more

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Prince of Persia: The Sands of... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Gemma Arterton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ben Kingsley Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a 2010 American adventure action fantasy film written by Jordan Mechner, Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro, and Carlo Bernard; directed by Mike Newell; produced by ...more

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Beyond the Reach is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Beyond the Reach Michael Douglas, Jeremy Irvine, Martin Palmer

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Dune is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Dune Sting, Patrick Stewart, Alicia Witt Dune is a 1984 American science fiction film written and directed by David Lynch, based on the 1965 Frank Herbert novel of the same name. The film stars Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides and ...more

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The Scorpion King is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
The Scorpion King Dwayne Johnson, Kelly Hu, Michael Clarke Duncan The Scorpion King is a 2002 American action film directed by Chuck Russell, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Kelly Hu, Grant Heslov, and Michael Clarke Duncan. It is a ...more

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Sahara is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Chino Fernandez added Sahara Jim Belushi, Michael Massee, Simon Westaway Sahara is a 1995 American/Australian made-for-television action drama war film shot in Australia and directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith. The film stars James Belushi, Alan David Lee and Simon ...more

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Desert Saints is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Desert Saints Kiefer Sutherland, Rachel Ticotin, Beth Grant Desert Saints is a 2002 crime thriller film starring Kiefer Sutherland as a hitman named Arthur Banks, alongside Melora Walters as Agent Bennie Harper.

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Inferno is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Inferno Alida Valli, Veronica Lazăr, Eleonora Giorgi Inferno is a 1980 Italian supernatural horror film, written and directed by Dario Argento. The film stars Irene Miracle, Leigh McCloskey, Eleonora Giorgi, Daria Nicolodi and Alida Valli. The ...more

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Tank Girl is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Tank Girl Naomi Watts, Ice-T, Iggy Pop Tank Girl is a 1995 American science fiction action comedy film directed by Rachel Talalay, loosely based on Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett's comic series of the same name, which originated in ...more