Top Five Action Movies of the 90's

Photo Credit: DreamWorks Distribution
January 30th, 2014

Action movies are a key component of the movie industry. During the 1990s, several of the greatest and most memorable action movies of all time were released. These action films molded the action genre for the next generation of movies.


speed-image.jpgPhoto Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation


“Speed” is an action film that was directed by Jan de Bont and released in 1994. The film starred many big name actors, including Sandra Bullock, Jeff Daniels and Keanu Reeves. The plot for the movie was extremely uncomplicated, but its simple storyline was part of the film's allure. A top-notch detective played by Keanu Reeves has to prevent a bomb on a bus from exploding by keeping the vehicle's speed over 50 miles per hour. If the velocity of the bus drops below the 50 mph mark, the explosive device is triggered, and it detonates, killing everyone on board. Despite this simple plot, “Speed” won two Academy Awards for Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing. Jan de Bont went on to make a sequel, “Speed 2: Cruise Control,”  which was about a cruise liner. Though it was not as commercially successful its predecessor, the original endures as one of the finest action movies ever released.


face-off-image.jpgPhoto Credit: Paramount Pictures


In 1997, director John Woo worked on award-winning action movie “Face/Off.” This film starred Nicolas Cage as terrorist Castor Troy and John Travolta as FBI representative Sean Archer. During the movie, Troy and Archer end up switching faces, which gives Archer effortless access to the underground crime world in which Troy lives. Regrettably, Castor wakes up and recognizes that his face is absent, so he takes Archer's face. This gives Troy casual access to Archer's family, friends and police resources. To make matters even worse, the only people who know about the switch are terminated by Troy. This movie was the first time that John Woo was given absolute creative control over a project. As a result, Woo filled the movie with artillery gunfights and bloodshed, which made for several thrilling combat scenes. “Face/Off” was met with acclaim from critics and laymen alike, which is no small accomplishment in Hollywood.


terminator-2-judgment-day.jpgPhoto Credit: TriStar Pictures

“Terminator 2: Judgment Day”

“Terminator 2: Judgment Day” is a science-fiction action film that was released in 1991. A sequel to the 1984 film “The Terminator,” it was directed by James Cameron. "Terminator 2" is one of the few sequels to a film that improves upon the original in nearly every way. The movie follows Sarah Connor, played by Linda Hamilton, and her 10-year-old son John Connor, played by Edward Furlong. In the movie, Sarah and John are being pursued by an advanced Terminator unit called the T-1000, which has been sent from the future to kill John. If the T-1000 is successful, John never leads the human resistance against the machines in the future, an outcome that spells doom for humanity. However, a less advanced Terminator, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, is also sent from the future to protect John. Terminator 2 turned out to be not only a huge commercial success but also a great influence on pop culture, solidifying Arnold Schwarzenegger's status as a movie icon.


saving-private-ryan.jpgPhoto Credit: DreamWorks Distribution

“Saving Private Ryan”

In 1998, Steven Spielberg directed one of the best action war films that Hollywood has ever seen. The film begins with the start of the Normandy Invasion at Omaha Beach. From there, “Saving Private Ryan” takes moviegoers across the beautiful European countryside as it follows Army Ranger Captain John H. Miller, played by Tom Hanks, as he attempts to locate and take home Private James Francis Ryan, played by Matt Damon. Private Ryan earned a right to leave the war after all his other brothers were killed during service. “Saving Private Ryan” became famous for its realistic portrayal of World War II.


braveheart-image.jpgPhoto Credit: Paramount Pictures


Few action films have stood up to the test of time like “Braveheart," a historical action war film that was released in 1995. The movie follows Mel Gibson as William Wallace, a Scottish warrior of the 13th century. During the movie, Wallace is given the task of leading the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence, the war during which the Scots faced King Edward I of England for their freedom. Though the film is not entirely historically accurate, it won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, for its thrilling portrayal of battle.

The 1990s were filled with great action films that left huge marks on the industry and set the bar high for future action films. The films on this list are still considered to be some of the best of all time. They proved that action films need a gripping narrative in addition to thrilling combat scenes to be successful.