Top 10 Awesome Action Films from the 90’s.
#10 Blade (1998) Stephen Norrington
Blade came out back when Wesley Snipes was still a relevant action hero. Unfortunately for us he is now doing time for not paying his taxes to Uncle Sam and will never relive his glory days as Blade the Vampire Killer. Blade was followed by two sub par sequels each with decreased screen time for our hero in favor of his costars. Nevertheless the original Blade was the first great Marvel superhero film and paved the way for the X-Men and Spider-Man films.
#9 Cliffhanger (1993) Renny Harlin
Ok we all know even though Stallone was well past his prime in the 90’s and now 20 years later even more so, the former porn star was at the top of his game with Cliffhanger. Although the true reason this mountain climbing revenge flick is on the list is because the great John Lithgow once again plays one of the most vile and charismatic villains ever seen on-screen. Lithgow plays Eric Qualen, a ruthless international criminal searching for his multi-million dollars in the mountains after an awesome aerial transfer goes awry. This film is worth the price of admission for this scene alone.
#8 Ricochet (1991) Russell Mulcahy
Ricochet has everything a great action film should have. Denzel Washington as a bad ass honest cop, John Lithgow as the aforementioned ruthless criminal, Kevin Pollack as the lovable token white guy sidekick and a young Ice T chewing up the scenery like only he can.
#7 Speed (1994) Jan De Bont
The premise of this movie is highly improbable, executed with the thought process of a 7th grader and starring everyone’s favorite listless surfer boy and an annoying Sandra Bullock. However they managed to pull it off and made a great action movie that actually creates suspense and has a good payoff after the three different endings. Dennis Hopper once again plays a great thumbless villain and Jeff Daniels was a great comic relief sidekick.
#6 The Fugitive (1993) Andrew Davis
The Fugitive actually had quite a few good things going for it. Harrison Ford is a great action hero, Tommy Lee Jones is awesome as the relentless US Marshall on his trail and the movie actually has a brain unlike the plethora of mind-less action movies we get now.
#5 Saving Private Ryan (1998) Steven Spielberg
Saving Private Ryan is without doubt the most realistic portrayal of World War 2 you will ever see. Steven Spielberg went balls to the wall with the opening scene based on the Invasion of Normandy and then follows Tom Hanks and 7 soldiers as they search for Private Ryan who has lost three of his brothers. The film was loosely based on the Niland Brothers who served during WW2.
#4 Leon The Professional (1994) Luc Besson
Leon The Professional has the best movie villain ever seen on film until Heath Ledger played the Joker in The Dark Knight. Gary Oldman plays the pill popping, Beethoven obsessed psychopathic DEA agent like nobody’s business. Why this movie did not receive more acclaim or an award for Gary Oldman is beyond me. This was also the film début of a 12-year-old Natalie Portman and introduced Jean Reno to American audiences.
#3 Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) James Cameron
Say what you will about James Cameron and his anti-military, left-wing propaganda film Avatar, the man knows how to make an action movie. Terminator 2 was the outstanding follow-up to his first hit film Terminator and he did not disappoint. Everything about this movie is perfect except for one fatal flaw. Although he killed Arnold’s character off at the end, he didn’t secure the rights so that nobody else would be able to make any more Terminator sequels since the story ended with Part 2 and this great action flick was followed by two atrocious sequels. 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and 2009’s Terminator Salvation were both embarrassing follow ups to the outstanding 2nd film and not even Christian Bale playing John Connor could have saved them.
#2 The Matrix (1999) The Wachowski Brothers
The Matrix is the film that invented “bullet time” and the use of Hong-Kong wire work and that infamous half a back flip bullet dodge that was robbed by every other action director after the release of The Matrix. Rest assured that every action movie you have seen since 1999 that includes the 360° slow motion panning shot around our hero was because of this movie. The Matrix set a new benchmark for action movies in the 21st century. We don’t know what we would have done without you Keanu.
And the Most Awesome Action Film of the 1990’s is….
#1 Heat (1995) Michael Mann
Heat is without doubt the best action movie to come out of the 90s. Think about it, if Michael Mann would have never made Heat, there would be no Dark Knight which is the best action movie of the 2000’s and was clearly inspired by Heat. Al Pacino and Robert De Niro are on opposite sides of the law and both play by their own set of rules. The bank robbery scene is by far the best action sequence ever filmed.