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The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies 

Ranker Film
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Updated July 11, 2020 25.6k votes 2.2k voters 25.6k views 96 items

Some of the best films depict a bleak future. Lucky for movie-goers, this type of dystopian despair has led to some of the best action movies of all time. The top dystopian action movies feature characters not only fighting for themselves, but also fighting for the future of mankind. This is a list of dystopian action films featuring everything from The Hunger Games to The Running Man to Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

What movies will you find on this list of the best post-apocalyptic action films? Maybe you'll vote The Matrix has to the top. This modern classic by the Wachowskis makes audiences rethink their very existence while watching Neo learn the truth, fight the machines, and discover that he is “The One.” Mad Max: Fury Road is another exciting dystopian action movie. Hope is all but lost when a pregnant woman joins a group of rebel refugees to save her unborn child and the species at large in Children of Men. Other good post-apocalyptic action movies include District 9, Demolition Man, and Snowpiercer.

Which thriller dystopian movie is your favorite? Give the best films a thumbs up and please add any good movies that are missing.

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1
The Matrix is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
Keanu Reeves, Hugo Weaving, Carrie-Anne Moss

Released: 1999

Directed by: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski

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

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2
The Fifth Element is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
Milla Jovovich, Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman

Released: 1997

Directed by: Luc Besson

The Fifth Element is a 1997 English-language French science fiction action film directed and co-written by Luc Besson. It stars Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman and Milla Jovovich. Mostly set in the ...more

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3
Terminator 2: Judgment D... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Edward Furlong, Linda Hamilton

Released: 1991

Directed by: James Cameron

Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a 1991 American science fiction action thriller film written, produced and directed by James Cameron. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert ...more

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4
The Terminator is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
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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5
Blade Runner is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
Jason Price added Harrison Ford, Daryl Hannah, Sean Young

Released: 1982

Directed by: Ridley Scott

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

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6
V for Vendetta is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
Natalie Portman, John Hurt, Hugo Weaving

Released: 2005

Directed by: James McTeigue

V for Vendetta is a 2006 American political thriller film directed by James McTeigue and written by the Wachowski Brothers, based on the 1988 Vertigo graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore ...more

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7
Mad Max: Fury Road is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
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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8
12 Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis, Christopher Plummer

Released: 1995

Directed by: Terry Gilliam

12 Monkeys, also known as Twelve Monkeys, is a 1995 American science fiction film directed by Terry Gilliam, inspired by Chris Marker's 1962 short film La Jetée, and starring Bruce ...more

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9
Total Recall is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside

Released: 1990

Directed by: Paul Verhoeven

Total Recall is a 1990 American science fiction action film directed by Paul Verhoeven. In 2084, a construction worker, Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger), suddenly finds himself embroiled in ...more

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10
Aliens is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
Jason Price added Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, Michael Biehn

Released: 1986

Directed by: James Cameron

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11
District 9 is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
Sharlto Copley, Jed Brophy, Vanessa Haywood

Released: 2009

Directed by: Neill Blomkamp

District 9 is a 2009 science fiction film directed by Neill Blomkamp, released August 13, 2009. It takes place in Johannesburg, South Africa. District 9 is based on Alive in Joburg, a short film ...more

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12
Mad Max is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
Mel Gibson, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Steve Bisley

Released: 1979

Directed by: George Miller

Mad Max is a 1979 Australian dystopian action film directed by George Miller, produced by Byron Kennedy and starring Mel Gibson. James McCausland and Miller wrote the screenplay from a story by ...more

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13
Children of Men is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
Julianne Moore, Clive Owen, Michael Caine

Released: 2006

Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón

Children of Men is a 2006 science fiction thriller film directed and co-written by Alfonso Cuarón. The screenplay, based on P. D. James's 1992 novel of the same name, was credited to five ...more

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14
Serenity is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
Summer Glau, Morena Baccarin, Nathan Fillion

Released: 2005

Directed by: Joss Whedon

Serenity is a 2005 American space western film written and directed by Joss Whedon. It is a continuation of Whedon's short-lived 2002 Fox science fiction television series Firefly and stars the ...more

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15
Escape from New York is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
Jamie Lee Curtis, Kurt Russell, Ernest Borgnine

Released: 1981

Directed by: John Carpenter

Escape from New York is a 1981 American science fiction action film co-written, co-scored, and directed by John Carpenter. The film is set in a then near-future 1997 in a distopian United States ...more

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16
Dredd is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
Lena Headey, Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby

Released: 2012

Directed by: Pete Travis

Dredd is a 2012 science fiction action film directed by Pete Travis and written and produced by Alex Garland. It is based on the 2000 AD comic strip Judge Dredd and its eponymous character ...more

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17
Edge of Tomorrow is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
pratiksharma added Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton

Released: 2014

Directed by: Doug Liman

Edge of Tomorrow is a 2014 American military science fiction thriller film directed by Doug Liman. A soldier (Tom Cruise) on the front lines of a civilization-ending alien threat finds himself ...more

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18
Snowpiercer is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
Chris Evans, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton

Released: 2013

Directed by: Bong Joon-ho

Snowpiercer is a 2013 South Korean-Czech dystopian science-fiction action film based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette. A new ...more

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19
RoboCop is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
Jason Price added Alex Van Halen, Peter Weller, Leeza Gibbons

Released: 1987

Directed by: Paul Verhoeven

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20
Alien is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, Ian Holm

Released: 1979

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Alien is a 1979 science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott. The crew of the commercial space tug Nostromo encounter the eponymous Alien, a deadly and aggressive extraterrestrial set ...more

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Logan is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
Christian William Frates added Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant

Directed by: James Mangold

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22
The Running Man is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Brown, Jesse Ventura

Released: 1987

Directed by: Paul Michael Glaser

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23
Equilibrium is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
Christian Bale, Sean Bean, Taye Diggs

Released: 2002

Directed by: Kurt Wimmer

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24
The Hunger Games is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth

Released: 2012

Directed by: Gary Ross

The Hunger Games is a 2012 American dystopian science fiction adventure film directed by Gary Ross, based on the novel by Suzanne Collins. In a dystopian post-apocalyptic future in the nation of ...more

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25
Starship Troopers is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The 35+ Greatest Dystopian Action Movies
Jason Price added Neil Patrick Harris, Denise Richards, Amy Smart

Released: 1997

Directed by: Paul Verhoeven

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

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