18 Best Action Adventure Movies of All Time

In a casual exchange with my nana over tea, he once told me this story from his childhood. That one time he couldn’t believe his eyes. The years ahead he couldn’t help but obsess. It is a time he remembers with great fondness. “A spectacle”, he said. “People flocked to theatres like it was a circus. None could remain motionless in averment”. The movie he was referring to was ‘King Kong’. The incredulous exhibition of a monster that stunned people was probably one of the first prominent forays of celluloid into the adventure genre. ‘The Wizard of Oz’ is another film that has been deeply influential on modern-day cinema as we know it. Almost a whole century later, technology has made giant strides and made good the movies on entertainment value, though, it still requires the same hours cramped up in the room and evokes similar passion. Here is the list of best action adventure movies ever. You can watch some of these best action adventure movies on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.

18. Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Two driven entrepreneurs nail down a contract with the government to explore a previously uncharted and inaccessible island. With a team of recently returned American soldiers (from the Vietnam war), the two embark on a journey of unmeasured proportions which proves to be a catastrophic expedition. They encounter a folklore legend and the island’s master, Kong, and now must try to hatch an escape plan as other death looms large. ‘Kong’ isn’t just a senseless commercial artifact courtesy Jordan Roberts intriguing interpretation of its predecessor. Instead of dying the film in the glory of its superstars, Roberts chooses a more conservative approach and presents an intelligent, albeit truncated, rivalry between man and the unknown with admirable expertise. His clever and metaphorical use of the Vietnam war as an enforcer and the heart of the story with the color orange and heavy, destructive artillery is endearing and gives the movie legs to compete as a worthy adventure-action featurette.


17. Lost City of Z (2017)

2017 didn’t respect ‘The Lost City of Z’. And it will come back to haunt it in posterity. The marriage of captivating imagery and melancholic, solemn background music culminates in a unison that is capable enough to imprint upon you such a permanent sense of nostalgia and satisfaction, it will keep you up for nights. Burns with such passion for the mystery of life that threatens to consume you with its perfected visual and narrative style and its emotional intelligence. So pristinely performed, written and mounted. “A man’s reach should always exceed his grasp. Or what’s a heaven for?”


16. Jumanji (1995)

Jumanji is about a board game whose characters come alive after Judy and Peter mistakenly free them. With the animals and the chaos that follows, they meet Alan, a grown-up man who has been trapped inside forever. They must now find a way to send them back and save Peter, who will die if they fail to do so. Despite being rusty and clad with formulaic filmmaking charm of Robin Williams and the energy of the narrative carry the film forward and make it a cult classic that is absolutely rewatchable and then some.


15. Harry Potter (2001)

JK Rowling’s brilliant literary masterpiece saw an apt reincarnation on screen, which gave us countless thrills and memories to preserve. ‘Harry Potter’ is probably every child’s favorite movie and remains to be a standard against which adventure and fantasy films are tested. The story of Hogwarts and Harry Potter, a simpleton with a macabre past, starts with the ‘Sorcerer’s Stone’. Right from the moment he puts foot in the school of magic, evil forces check his movements and pit him against Lord Voldemort, an iconic villain who wants Harry’s life. Without exaggerating, being a Potterhead is one of the most surreal joys in the world.


14. Jurassic Park (1993)

Spielberg’s vision resulted in the resuscitation of a species that has been extinct for a billion years, albeit only on screen. The magical original boasted of gorgeous gigantic dinosaur monsters and its master raconteur’s extraordinary craftsmanship. Its reboot, though, relies a lot on believable special effects and the charm of its lead stars to try to imitate the magic. John Hammond realizes his dream as he successfully engineers the rebirth of dinosaurs and secretly invites Dr. Grant to inspect his facility that he plans to open to the public soon. Despite initial skepticism from the doctor, Hammond continues with his plan and Newman from ‘Seinfeld’ betrays the park to inadvertently release the dinosaurs. Spielberg’s epic creation remains a masterpiece that will be fondly remembered for years to come.


13. The Hunger Games (2012)

Katniss Everdeen’s incredible journey started with this beautifully crafted emotional roller coaster. ‘Hunger Games’ made waves with its surprisingly good storyline and polished, well-rounded performances. In an alternate reality, the nation of Panem exists in the tyrannical and chaotic rule of Coriolanus Snow. The district, for their past altercations with the administration, must sacrifice members of their community to compete in the annual edition of Hunger Games. The competition yields only a single survivor, and as Everdeen’s younger sister is chosen, she volunteers and becomes an icon. Judging Jennifer Lawrence by her performance would be a great idea as her foray into commercial cinema is marked by her typical innocence and her ability to hold the screen.


12. Interstellar (2014)

The knack for making movies on space or space-travel has baffled many filmmakers, let alone Nolan himself. Similar to a layered concept that was used in ‘Inception’ (various levels in a dream, within a dream, with bizarre outcomes), ‘Interstellar’ uses the time-space dilemma to deduce the mysteries that are Black Holes and also explores avenues around interstellar travel, a feat that looks seemingly plausible after watching the movie. So much so, that many researchers and scientists were a part of the movie and many scientific papers were published afterwards. Action adventure movies don’t come in better shape or form than this.


11. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch continue their battle for supremacy. For the sake of the list, let’s just say the former wins hands down. Downey draws his legendary character’s charm, brevity, and dry humor in a performance that lifts the movie. ‘Game of Shadows’ follows on its celebrated predecessor and brings a familiar foe in James Moriarty to Holmes. The former conspires a terrorist attack in London and the latter finds himself shouldered with the responsibility to prevent the impending catastrophe. ‘A Game of Shadows’ breathes in its morbid, bleak cinematography and flourishes with endearing performances. Guy Ritchie’s impassioned endeavor becomes successful from the first minute and a folklore in its last.


10. Pirates of the Carribean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Johnny Depp is someone who always plays with his characters. The wide spectrum of roles that he has played elevates with his ingenious habitation of Captian Jack Sparrow. Modern-day cinema has seen the bastard-like charm of Sparrow push him at in the top array of cultural references. The first ‘Pirates’ movie serves as the origin of the Black Pearl, the forces vying for its control. Taking us through extra-ordinary live-action characters and taut episodes of thrill, the story becomes evocative the moment Davy Jones’ choir ransacks the city. In the magnificent oddity of its outlandish characters and emotionally charged background, ‘Curse of Black Pearl’ emerges a triumphant effort, successfully uniting the most endearing elements of filmmaking.


9. Skyfall (2012)

The James Bond franchise certainly saw its best period with Daniel Craig as the main man. With him stepping down, the door is open for a new actor to become an iconic figurine in celluloid history. ‘Skyfall’ is a complete work of art, replete with gorgeous imagery and a chilling soundtrack. Probably the most complete Bond film ever, ‘Skyfall’ sees Bond confront his unexplored past as he vies to save his boss, M. In a bid to do so, he must embrace the ghosts of his life’s history and overcome them. Craig’s terrific leading performance coupled with Sam Mendes’ artisanship make ‘Skyfall’ a work of art and a film worthy of your attention.


8. Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018)

‘Fallout’ has to be the strongest action movie of the year. With every movie, Cruise seems to up the ante, and if you haven’t seen the film yet, you are in for a surprise. The seasoned veteran joins forces with assassin August Walker to take down gun dealers by the name of the Apostles. But is the ally just an enemy pretending? Without spilling the beans, I can confidently assert that ‘Fallout’ will take you out of your senses and deliver you to action-heaven land.


7. Lord of the Rings (2001)

Frodo’s epic journey becomes the focal point of Peter Jackson’s gigantic trilogy. The Rings franchise is one of the most successful franchises of all time and for all the right reasons. Its giant production scale and a story of epic proportions make the series one to remember. The first part won eleven Academy awards and the hearts of millions with its endearing story and tremendously well-performed action sequences.


6. Kung Fu Panda (2008)

The calm Valley of Peace in ancient China erupts in fear and anguish when they hear news that Tai Lung, a wilful villain from the past, has escaped from prison. In attempts to protect the city, Master Shifu, the local in-house kung fu expert calls on his mentor, Master Oogway, who transcends into heaven and declares Po, a sloppy, innocent, and adorable panda, the Dragon Warrior. Shifu reluctantly takes on his newest disciple, along with his legendary five students. Overcoming initial disdain and indignation, Po and the fantastic five bond as friends and fight to preserve the honor of China and kung fu. The only animated feature on the list is also the most successful animated movie of all time. Its intimate blend of hardened action, refreshing comedy, and a jaw-dropping star list make it a wholesome entertainment rollercoaster.


5. King Kong (1933)

On the big screen since its first appearance in 1933, ‘King Kong’ told the story of a giant, monstrous gorilla, which is sometimes also portrayed as the tragic anti-hero, while mostly as the antagonist in films. Although not as gruesome as the other monsters that filmmakers have come up with, the inhabitant of Skull Island is also worshipped by the island dwellers for protecting them from all kinds of predators. Depicted as a bipedal, but walking with a hunch, the monster has bloodshot eyes and sharp teeth and a face that resembles half-man, half-beast, making King Kong one of the most intimidating creatures ever to come alive on the big screen.


4. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

George Miller’s fantasia land becomes the battleground for pride, power, and the tyrannical oppression of freedom. Now, you have to understand something before you delve in. ‘Fury Road’ works in Miller’s formulaic narrative tropes that he has carefully established in the franchise through years of hard work and careful planning. The movie’s hyperbolic and stylized feel thus can be repulsive to many. Without instantly rejecting the film, allow it to grow on you pull you from apprehension and skepticism and to the most fun you’ve had in your life watching a movie.


3. Inception (2010)

‘Inception’ is probably one of the most complete works of art of contemporary cinema. It entwines various genres with ease and inherits a look that constantly changes throughout. A client hires Cobb and his team of aides to eat into a rival’s dream and change his mind. The tradition, called inception, sends him deep into a fantasy land where he must confront the ghosts of his past to redeem himself. Boosted by Christopher Nolan’s immense craftsmanship and an extraordinary ensemble, ‘Inception’ is a true masterpiece that will be remembered and celebrated for decades to come.


2. Jaws (1975)

Sharks have scared us no matter what! Even the sight of a mere fin poking out of the waters can send shivers down our spine. Acclaimed filmmaker Steven Spielberg grabbed the opportunity to make a full-length horror movie on Peter Benchley’s novel named “Jaws”, which told the story of a monstrous man-eating great white shark that lurked beneath the waters of Amity Island and attacked vacationers that jumped into the water to cool off. Spielberg’s 1975 movie ‘Jaws’ was a huge hit and it spawned several mutant shark movies later on.


1. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Any adventure list would be incomplete without this engrossing cult classic. It would probably end up defining any set of movies placed within the same bracket. Indiana Jones’ character presents a complex and elaborate reflection of older action heroes, but diversifies his character with a dash of science. ‘Raiders’ substantially borrows from the visionary workmanship of Spielberg and the aura and charisma of its enigmatic star, Harrison Ford to give us a movie for the ages.