Entertainment

The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time 

Ranker Film
Updated August 12, 2019 2.1k votes 218 voters 3.9k views 27 items

List Rules Vote up the best intelligent movies, or those that are smart, clever, etc.

Action movies are always entertaining to say the least, but an intelligent action movie combines the best of both worlds: keeping the audience excited, as well as making them think. Even if you're just there to see some dudes fight and some cars crash, a thought-provoking action flick only makes the experience better. Think of it this way: you like these non-stop action films because they're so stimulating. Well, adding clever storylines or thought-provoking elements adds to that stimulation, and you leave the theater both entertained and a little smarter... maybe.

Whether a movie packs in good social commentary alongside explosions, features the top action stars, or simply creates the perfect setting for the film, plenty of aspects constitute an intelligent action movie. Take Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon for example. Aside from the incredible display of martial arts, the film is renown for its cinematography and story—putting it at the top of its class. The same could be said about many of these popular action films to follow.

Check out the intelligent and action-packed films below and vote up the ones you think are best. You can also vote down any that may have missed the mark, or at least deserve to be lower on the list. Feel free to add your own picks to the list as well.

list ordered by
1
Gladiator is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen

Released: 2000

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Gladiator is a 2000 American-British epic historical drama film directed by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Ralf Möller, Oliver Reed, Djimon Hounsou, ...more

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2
Star Wars Episode V: The... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

Released: 1980

Directed by: Irvin Kershner

The Empire Strikes Back is a 1980 American epic space opera film directed by Irvin Kershner. Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan wrote the screenplay, with George Lucas writing the film's story ...more

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3
The Terminator is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Paxton, Linda Hamilton

Released: 1984

Directed by: James Cameron

The Terminator is a 1984 American science fiction/horror action film directed by James Cameron, written by Cameron and the film's producer Gale Anne Hurd. Schwarzenegger plays the Terminator, a ...more

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4
Alita: Battle Angel is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
dontyouwish added Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly

Released: 2019

Directed by: Robert Rodriguez

Alita: Battle Angel is a 2019 American science fiction action film directed by Robert Rodriguez, based on the manga by Yukito Kishiro. After being revived by Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz), ...more

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5
Casino Royale is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Alessandra Ambrosio, Eva Green, Daniel Craig

Released: 2006

Directed by: Martin Campbell

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

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6
Inception is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard

Released: 2010

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

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7
Kill Bill Volume 1 is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Quentin Tarantino

Released: 2003

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

Kill Bill: Volume 1 is a 2003 American martial arts film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. the Bride, who swears revenge on a team of bad guys and their leader Bill after they try to ...more

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8
The Matrix is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Keanu Reeves, Hugo Weaving, Carrie-Anne Moss

Released: 1999

Directed by: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski

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9
Minority Report is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell

Released: 2002

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

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10
Starship Troopers is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Neil Patrick Harris, Denise Richards, Amy Smart

Released: 1997

Directed by: Paul Verhoeven

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11
The Dark Knight is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger

Released: 2008

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

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12
Aliens is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, Michael Biehn

Released: 1986

Directed by: James Cameron

Aliens is a 1986 American science-fiction action horror film written and directed by James Cameron, produced by his then-wife Gale Anne Hurd, and starring Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael ...more

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13
Crouching Tiger, Hidden ... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Zhang Ziyi, Michelle Yeoh, Chow Yun-Fat

Released: 2000

Directed by: Ang Lee

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a 2000 wuxia film. An American-Chinese-Hong Kong-Taiwanese co-production, the film was directed by Ang Lee and featured an international cast of Han actors, ...more

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14
The Fugitive is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Julianne Moore, Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones

Released: 1993

Directed by: Andrew Davis

This film is a 1993 American action film based on the 1960s television series of the same name created by Roy Huggins. The film was directed by Andrew Davis and stars Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee ...more

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15
Blade Runner is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Harrison Ford, Daryl Hannah, Sean Young

Released: 1982

Directed by: Ridley Scott

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16
Indiana Jones and the Ra... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Harrison Ford, Alfred Molina, Karen Allen

Released: 1981

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

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17
Die Hard is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia

Released: 1988

Directed by: John McTiernan

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

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18
Dirty Harry is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Clint Eastwood, Don Siegel, Andrew Robinson

Released: 1971

Directed by: Don Siegel

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19
In the Line of Fire is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Clint Eastwood, John Malkovich, Rene Russo

Released: 1993

Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen

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20
Mission: Impossible – Gh... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Jeremy Renner

Released: 2011

Directed by: Brad Bird

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21
Total Recall is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside

Released: 1990

Directed by: Paul Verhoeven

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22
Goldfinger is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Sean Connery, Honor Blackman, Garry Marshall

Released: 1964

Directed by: Guy Hamilton

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23
First Blood is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Sylvester Stallone, Brian Dennehy, David Caruso

Released: 1982

Directed by: Ted Kotcheff

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24
True Romance is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer, Samuel L. Jackson

Released: 1993

Directed by: Tony Scott

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25
Speed is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Sandra Bullock, Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper

Released: 1994

Directed by: Jan de Bont

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