Entertainment

The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time  

Ranker Film
2k votes 206 voters 3.5k 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
Star Wars Episode V: The Empir... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill
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
2
Gladiator is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen
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
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
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
4
Casino Royale is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Alessandra Ambrosio, Eva Green, Daniel Craig
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
5
Inception is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard
Inception is a 2010 science fiction thriller film written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan. The film stars a large ensemble cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph ...more
6
Kill Bill Volume 1 is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, 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
7
The Matrix is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Keanu Reeves, Hugo Weaving, Carrie-Anne Moss
The Matrix is a 1999 American-Australian science fiction action film written and directed by The Wachowskis, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, and Joe ...more
8
Alita: Battle Angel is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
dontyouwish added Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly
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
9
The Dark Knight is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger
The Dark Knight is a 2008 superhero film directed by Christopher Nolan, based on the DC Comics character, Batman. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), Police Lieutenant James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and ...more
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
Starship Troopers is a 1997 American military science fiction action film directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Edward Neumeier. The story follows a young soldier named Johnny Rico and his ...more
11
Minority Report is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell
Minority Report is a 2002 American neo-noir science fiction mystery-thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and loosely based on the short story of the same name by Philip K. Dick. It is set ...more
12
Aliens is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, Michael Biehn
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
13
Blade Runner is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Harrison Ford, Daryl Hannah, Sean Young
Blade Runner is a 1982 American neo-noir dystopian science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, and Edward James Olmos. The screenplay, ...more
14
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Zhang Ziyi, Michelle Yeoh, Chow Yun-Fat
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
15
Indiana Jones and the Raiders ... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Harrison Ford, Alfred Molina, Karen Allen
Raiders of the Lost Ark is a 1981 American adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg. The screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan was from a story by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman. It was produced by ...more
16
The Fugitive is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Julianne Moore, Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones
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
17
Dirty Harry is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Clint Eastwood, Don Siegel, Andrew Robinson
Dirty Harry is a 1971 American action film produced and directed by Don Siegel, the first in the Dirty Harry series. Clint Eastwood plays the title role, in his first outing as San Francisco ...more
18
In the Line of Fire is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Clint Eastwood, John Malkovich, Rene Russo
In the Line of Fire is a 1993 American action thriller film directed by Wolfgang Petersen, and starring Clint Eastwood and John Malkovich. Written by Jeff Maguire, the film is about a ...more
19
Die Hard is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia
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
20
True Romance is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer, Samuel L. Jackson
True Romance is a 1993 American film directed by Tony Scott and written by Quentin Tarantino. The film stars Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette with a supporting cast featuring Dennis ...more
21
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Pr... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Jeremy Renner
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is a 2011 American action spy film directed by Brad Bird, and the fourth film in the Mission: Impossible series. The IMF is shut down when it's implicated in ...more
22
Goldfinger is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Sean Connery, Honor Blackman, Garry Marshall
Goldfinger is the third film in the James Bond series and the third to star Sean Connery as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. It is based on the novel of the same name by Ian Fleming. The film ...more
23
Speed is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Sandra Bullock, Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper
Speed is a 1994 American action film directed by Jan de Bont in his feature film directorial debut. The film stars Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock, Joe Morton, and Jeff Daniels. A ...more
24
Total Recall is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside
Total Recall may refer to: Total recall (memory)
25
First Blood is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time
Sylvester Stallone, Brian Dennehy, David Caruso
First Blood is a 1982 American psychological thriller and action film directed by Ted Kotcheff, co-written by and starring Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo, a troubled and misunderstood veteran. ...more