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The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert 

Ranker Film
Updated March 3, 2020 475 votes 131 voters 8.7k views 24 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 is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Hugh Keays-Byrne

Released: 2015

Directed by: George Miller

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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2
The Mummy is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Rachel Weisz, Brendan Fraser, Patricia Velásquez

Released: 1999

Directed by: Stephen Sommers

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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3
Stargate is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Kurt Russell, James Spader, Djimon Hounsou

Released: 1994

Directed by: Roland Emmerich

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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4
Mad Max 2 is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Vernon Wells

Released: 1981

Directed by: George Miller

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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5
The Mummy Returns is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Dwayne Johnson, Rachel Weisz, Brendan Fraser

Released: 2001

Directed by: Stephen Sommers

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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6
Tremors is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Kevin Bacon, Reba McEntire, Fred Ward

Released: 1990

Directed by: Ron Underwood

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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7
Dune is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Sting, Patrick Stewart, Alicia Witt

Released: 1984

Directed by: David Lynch

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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8
The Flight of the Phoeni... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
James Stewart, Richard Attenborough, Ernest Borgnine

Released: 1965

Directed by: Robert Aldrich

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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9
The Jewel of the Nile is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito, Michael Douglas

Released: 1985

Directed by: Lewis Teague, David Teague

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

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10
Sahara is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Penélope Cruz, Matthew McConaughey, William H. Macy

Released: 2005

Directed by: Breck Eisner

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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11
Three Kings is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube

Released: 1999

Directed by: David O. Russell

Three Kings is a 1999 satirical comedy film written and directed by David O. Russell from a story by John Ridley about a men taking gold that takes place during the 1991 Iraqi uprising against ...more

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12
Jarhead is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx, John Krasinski

Released: 2005

Directed by: Sam Mendes

Jarhead is a 2005 biographical drama 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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13
Sahara is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Mick McKenzie added Brooke Shields, John Mills, John Rhys-Davies

Released: 1984

Directed by: Andrew V. McLaglen

Sahara is a 1983 British-American adventure drama film directed by Andrew McLaglen and starring Brooke Shields, Lambert Wilson, Horst Buchholz, John Rhys-Davies, and John Mills. The original ...more
14
Flight of the Phoenix is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Hugh Laurie, Jared Padalecki, Dennis Quaid

Released: 2004

Directed by: John Moore

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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15
Holes is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Shia LaBeouf, Sigourney Weaver, Patricia Arquette

Released: 2003

Directed by: Andrew Davis

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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16
Prince of Persia: The Sa... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Gemma Arterton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ben Kingsley

Released: 2010

Directed by: Mike Newell

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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17
Tank Girl is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Naomi Watts, Ice-T, Iggy Pop

Released: 1995

Directed by: Rachel Talalay

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

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18
Rabbit-Proof Fence is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Kenneth Branagh, Jason Clarke, Deborah Mailman

Released: 2002

Directed by: Phillip Noyce

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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19
Sahara is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Chino-Fernandez added Sahara Jim Belushi, Michael Massee, Simon Westaway

Released: 1995

Directed by: Brian Trenchard-Smith

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
20
The Way Back is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Colin Farrell, Saoirse Ronan, Ed Harris

Released: 2010

Directed by: Peter Weir

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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21
The Scorpion King is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Dwayne Johnson, Kelly Hu, Michael Clarke Duncan

Released: 2002

Directed by: Chuck Russell

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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22
Beyond the Reach is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Beyond the Reach Michael Douglas, Jeremy Irvine, Martin Palmer
23
Desert Saints is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Kiefer Sutherland, Rachel Ticotin, Beth Grant

Released: 2002

Desert Saints is a 2002 crime thriller film starring Kiefer Sutherland as a hitman named Arthur Banks, alongside Melora Walters as Agent Bennie Harper.
24
Inferno is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert
Alida Valli, Veronica Lazăr, Eleonora Giorgi

Released: 1980

Directed by: Dario Argento

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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