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The Best Intelligent Action Movies of All Time

Updated August 12, 2019 3.0k votes 244 voters 5.7k views27 items

List RulesVote 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.

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  • 1
    Gladiator
    69
    64

    Gladiator

    Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix

    Released2000

    Directed byRidley Scott

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  • 2
    The Terminator
    70
    67

    The Terminator

    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Paxton

    Released1984

    Directed byJames Cameron

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  • 3
    Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
    75
    78

    Released1980

    Directed byIrvin Kershner

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  • 4
    Inception
    72
    77

    Inception

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy

    Released2010

    Directed byChristopher Nolan

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  • 5
    Casino Royale
    79
    87

    Casino Royale

    Alessandra Ambrosio, Eva Green

    Released2006

    Directed byMartin Campbell

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  • 6
    Alita: Battle Angel
    83
    99

    Alita: Battle Angel

    Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz

    Released2019

    Directed byRobert Rodriguez

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  • 7
    The Matrix
    83
    104

    The Matrix

    Keanu Reeves, Hugo Weaving

    Released1999

    Directed byAndy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski

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  • 8
    Kill Bill Volume 1
    69
    89

    Kill Bill Volume 1

    Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu

    Released2003

    Directed byQuentin Tarantino

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  • 9
    The Dark Knight
    69
    116

    The Dark Knight

    Christian Bale, Michael Caine

    Released2008

    Directed byChristopher Nolan

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  • 10
    Aliens
    34
    64

    Aliens

    Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton

    Released1986

    Directed byJames Cameron

    Aliens is a 1986 American science-fiction action horror film written and directed by James... more on Wikipedia
  • 11
    Minority Report
    30
    60

    Minority Report

    Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise

    Released2002

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

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  • 12
    Blade Runner
    55
    106

    Blade Runner

    Harrison Ford, Daryl Hannah

    Released1982

    Directed byRidley Scott

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  • 13
    Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
    40
    81

    Released1981

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

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  • 14
    Starship Troopers
    29
    66

    Starship Troopers

    Neil Patrick Harris, Denise Richards

    Released1997

    Directed byPaul Verhoeven

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  • 15
    The Fugitive
    25
    64

    The Fugitive

    Julianne Moore, Harrison Ford

    Released1993

    Directed byAndrew Davis

    This film is a 1993 American action film based on the 1960s television series of the same name... more on Wikipedia
  • 16
    In the Line of Fire
    18
    54

    In the Line of Fire

    Clint Eastwood, John Malkovich

    Released1993

    Directed byWolfgang Petersen

    In the Line of Fire is a 1993 American action thriller film directed by Wolfgang Petersen, and... more on Wikipedia
  • 17
    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
    25
    68

    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

    Zhang Ziyi, Michelle Yeoh

    Released2000

    Directed byAng Lee

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  • 18
    Die Hard
    31
    82

    Die Hard

    Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman

    Released1988

    Directed byJohn McTiernan

    Die Hard is a 1988 American action film directed by John McTiernan and written by Steven E. de... more on Wikipedia

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  • 19
    Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
    28
    81

    Released2011

    Directed byBrad Bird

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  • 20
    Total Recall
    21
    75

    Total Recall

    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone

    Released1990

    Directed byPaul Verhoeven

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  • 21
    Dirty Harry
    17
    55

    Dirty Harry

    Clint Eastwood, Don Siegel

    Released1971

    Directed byDon Siegel

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  • 22
    Goldfinger
    16
    59

    Goldfinger

    Sean Connery, Honor Blackman

    Released1964

    Directed byGuy Hamilton

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  • 23
    First Blood
    16
    70

    First Blood

    Sylvester Stallone, Brian Dennehy

    Released1982

    Directed byTed Kotcheff

    First Blood is a 1982 American psychological thriller and action film directed by Ted... more on Wikipedia
  • 24
    Speed
    13
    58

    Speed

    Sandra Bullock, Keanu Reeves

    Released1994

    Directed byJan de Bont

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  • 25
    True Romance
    9
    47

    True Romance

    Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer

    Released1993

    Directed byTony Scott

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