Variety’s list of the 50 best action movies ever skips some classics, includes films outside of the genre and snubs the Shaw Brothers.
In the pantheon of the best action films ever, many of the same worthwhile titles come up: Die Hard, Speed, Aliens…And of course there’s Predator, The Killer, Runaway Train – well, not according to Variety, at least, who made some glaring omissions and curious inclusions on their list of “The 50 Best Action Movies of All Time”.
This ranking of the best action movies has, expectedly, come under scrutiny, with many readers wondering, Where’s this movie? and Where’s that movie? Of course, even with the prestige of Variety, this list of “The 50 Best Action Movies of All Time” is still just opinion. Still, we can’t help but notice a few things here…
Where are movies like Predator and True Lies? Predator stands as a fan favorite with some terrific action sequences and is surely deserving of a place on a list of the best action movies, while True Lies is easily Schwarzenegger’s best work of the decade. And lest you think we’re just rooting for Arnold (although he is a Chief Action Officer for a reason), that there is only one John Woo movie (Hard Boiled, #15, my personal favorite action movie) is a complete oversight. And where are the Shaw Brothers? Well, that one Variety has defended, saying the martial arts genre has evolved so much over the decades that more modern titles have replaced one of the greatest studios in Asian film history. An interesting point, but that doesn’t work as a legitimate defense of omitting The 36th Chamber of Shaolin.
Still, we should acknowledge that Variety does retain some cred by including some of the best movies every fan of the action genre should see that might fall below the radar by not being on major streaming services like Netflix, like Vanishing Point (#47), Once Upon a Time in China Part II (#37) and Police Story (#27). That said, come on, Five Elements Ninjas is a masterpiece of the genre!
There are also titles that simply don’t fit within the genre, as some – The French Connection (#6), Bullitt (#10) and Ben-Hur (#18) – are less action movies than movies that have singular iconic scenes of action. All three of these deserved their spots on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 most thrilling movies ever because of these sequences, but to have them rank as some of the best action movies ever is a stretch. And then there’s the inclusion of the Paul Greengrass 9/11 movie United 93 at #25. A strange choice. Ironically, Variety themselves made an attempt to defend why some movies were missing because they didn’t fit within the genre: “You may well be surprised by the things we excluded, including movies with great action scenes (like “Dirty Harry” or Marvel movies) that ultimately fell slightly outside the genre…”
What do you think of Variety’s list of “The 50 Best Action Movies of All Time”? What do you think their biggest omission is? What would be your top action films? Let us know below!