With 2020 approaching many are currently reflecting on all the positive points of the past decade. Today I’m doing the same, as I list the best action movies of each year from 2010-2019.
These films were picked based on their creativity, the impact of the action and how well the story complimented the action. And because there were so man good action films this decade I will be including honourable mentions for you to also watch. Without further ado, let’s begin.
2010: Inception (dir. Christopher Nolan)
With an interesting story about implanting ideas into someone’s mind while having to battle through not only the subject’s mental defences but your own baggage as well as incredibly staged action sequences like the rotating hallway fight and using minimal CGI, Inception is a true sci-fi action masterpiece.
HM: Kick-Ass & 13 Assassins.
2011: The Raid (dir. Gareth Evans)
After a swat team is ambushed in an apartment complex the survivors must reach and arrest the kingpin before his henchmen kill them. From this simple premise, The Raid quickly ratchets up the tension as we are never sure who will escape alive. And the action sequences use of flowing choreography, camerawork and editing turn the film into a remarkable ballet of violence.
HM: Captain America: The First Avenger & X-men: First Class.
2012: Dredd (dir. Peter Travis)
Similar to The Raid, Dredd finds two judges (police officers who are judge, jury, and executioner) Dredd (Karl Urban) and Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), trapped in a skyscraper, having to fight their way to the kingpin to escape. However, Dredd keeps The Raid’s tension while also injecting a healthy dose of comic book action. With bloody violence, great world-building, beautiful slow-motion usage and endearing characters, Dredd, packs a punch despite its small stature.
HM: The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises & Skyfall.
2013: Snowpiercer (dir. Bong Joon-Ho)
While the premise is far-fetched (the remnants of humanity are trapped on a perpetually running world-spanning train after a climate crisis), Snowpiercer’s story about humanity in microcosm and fight scenes are very affecting. The skirmishes are protracted and merciless, combined with the claustrophobic setting and masterful editing, Snowpiercer will keep you riveted till the end.
HM: The Worlds End & Elysium.
2014: The Raid 2 (dir. Gareth Evans)
After surviving the first film, Rama (Iko Uwais) must infiltrate the mob and bring them down from inside. From there this sequel improves on everything great about the original. With more impressive choreography, more brutal violence; even more memorable characters, all wrapped around a fantastic story of family and loyalty. The Raid 2 is my favourite action film of the decade.
HM: Captain America: The Winter Soldier & Guardians of the Galaxy.
2015: Mad Max: Fury Road (dir. George Miller)
Mad Max: Fury Road puts all other 2015 action movies to shame, with an effectively slight story about Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) helping a band of women escape an oppressive patriarch; spectacular vehicle stunts. By the movie’s end, you’ll feel exhausted by the relentless action. Impressed by the practical stunts and special effects. And moved by characters like Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and Nux (Nicholas Hoult). High octane action at its finest.
HM: Furious 7, Avengers: Age of Ultron & Sicario.
2016: Captain America: Civil War (dir. Joe Russo)
Civil War is the highlight of the MCU. The story grounds the conflict in each heroes’ hopes and fears, examining them and playing them against each other expertly. Every character is relatable, making the fights more impactful. And each action sequence is creative. From the opening robbery to the final 2 on 1. Marvel has made many good films, but none topped the impact of Civil War.
2017: Dunkirk (dir. Christopher Nolan)
Depicting the titular WWII evacuation from three perspectives: the soldiers trapped at Dunkirk waiting for rescue, the civilians coming to evacuate the soldiers and the airmen covering them from above, Dunkirk’s tension becomes almost unbearable as we hope the soldiers escape in time. The use of practical effects, incredible sound editing, and Hans Zimmer’s tense score make the film effective and harrowing.
HM: Baby Driver.
2018: Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse (dir. Peter Ramsey, Bob Persichetti, Rodney Rothman)
The perfect balance of spectacle, personality, and high personal stakes. Into the Spiderverse is an expertly crafted love letter to comic books. With beautiful visuals that are used inventively in action sequences, all anchored by protagonist Miles Morales. Who allows us to feel his wonder, excitement, and fear better than any other spiderman.
2019: John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum (dir. Chad Stahelski)
Parabellum marks the culmination of everything great about John Wick. The story is full of unique, intriguing characters, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is still thoroughly engaging and the grounded, varied, constant action easily beats the overblown spectacle of other films this year.
HM: Avengers: Endgame.
So ends my list of the 2010’s best action movies. Be sure to tell me your favourite action movie of the decade in the comments. There have been some great action films this decade, now let’s see what the 2020s have in store.
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