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The 30 Best Action Movies Of The 2010s Ranked

Who doesn't love a good action movie? It's the genre that makes the most out of the theatrical experience, full of thrilling and awe-inspiring visual spectacle. A good action movie will leave your adrenaline pumping even hours after you've left the cinema, making you want to go back and see it again, which is why nearly every single billion-dollar-grossing movie is an action movie of one kind or another.

But action movies have always been evolving, from their roots in pulp serials in the 1940s to the chase movies of the '60s and '70s. Following the '90s era of muscled action heroes, the turn of the new millennium saw a major elevation of the blockbuster film. No longer were over-the-top action movies and comic book adaptations devoid of plot and substance; they were now impeccably crafted cinematic achievements with strong scripts, powerful stories, award-winning casts, and stylish direction, with a few being given serious awards recognition.

The 2010s may have been the biggest decade yet for the action film, with the explosion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe helping to elevate the entire genre even further. A decade dominated by superheroes, secret agents, and ultra-violence, it saw the return of popular blockbuster franchises of days past, and the spark of new ones that will live on for years to come. So suit up, load your ammo, and ignite your afterburners, because we're going on a mission to rank the 30 best action movies of the 2010s.

30. Jack Reacher

Based on a series of long-running novels by Lee Childs, the 2011 action movie "Jack Reacher" reunited star Tom Cruise with his "Valkyrie" director Christopher McQuarrie a few years before the latter would join the "Mission: Impossible" series. Cruise plays the titular Jack Reacher, a former military policeman turned street-wise do-gooder and reluctant criminal investigator who's always finding himself getting into bare-knuckled brawls.

Years after leaving the service, Reacher has become something of a drifter, but he agrees to meet with the defense attorney (Rosamund Pike) for a former fellow Army Ranger who's looking at the death penalty for a series of deadly public shootings. Agreeing to look into the matter, Reacher's evidence suggests there's more going on than a mentally unstable former soldier on a shooting spree. But as he gets closer to the truth, he becomes the target of shadowy individuals who prefer that their secrets stay that way.

A gritty street-level action movie, "Jack Reacher" was a suspenseful, fun, action-packed joyride and Cruise proved he could be just as tough playing a hard-nosed street brawler as he could be playing a hot shot pilot or undercover secret agent. Followed by a sequel, "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back" in 2016, the franchise was rebooted in 2022 as a streaming television series on Prime Video, starring Alan Ritchson as Jack Reacher.

29. Kong: Skull Island

A decade of relaunches, reboots, and legacy sequels, the 2010s saw the revival of a number of classic franchises. Some were well-done, while others became dismal failures. One of the more successful was the return of King Kong, who hadn't had a big screen outing in more than 10 years. With the big ape back and better than ever, "Kong: Skull Island" was a thrill-a-minute action-adventure and a wonder of world-building, hinting at a bigger universe of monsters that tied it into another major franchise. 

Set in the 1970s, the film gives audiences a glimpse into the past of the clandestine government organization called Monarch, which had been introduced in 2014's "Godzilla." Monarch's Bill Randa (John Goodman) assembles a team to explore an uncharted island where great beasts and an entrance into the fabled Hollow Earth are said to exist. Leading the group is hardened mercenary and ex-British military captain James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), who are joined by Packard's pilot Major Jack Chapman (Toby Kebbell), intrepid reporter Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), and Monarch scientist San Lin (Jing Tian). But when they arrive, they're faced with terrors beyond imagination, and their research expedition turns into a fight for their lives.

A terror-filled survivalist action movie with big monster mayhem, "Kong: Skull Island" did away with the thought-provoking drama of previous versions and gave audiences what they really wanted: monsters on a rampage.

28. Jurassic World

Based on a novel by "Westworld" creator Michael Crichton, "Jurassic Park" will forever be etched into pop culture for its landmark 1993 film adaptation from Steven Spielberg. More than 20 years later, after a pair of lackluster sequels had sapped audience enthusiasm, director Colin Trevorrow recruited "Guardians of the Galaxy" star Chris Pratt to star in a big-budget relaunch of the series that was even heavier on the action and spectacle. Pratt was joined by Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Irrfan Khan.

It's been two decades since the original Jurassic Park disaster, and investors, researchers, and security specialists have finally put the finishing touches on their next attempt at a dinosaur-themed tourist attraction: Jurassic World. While dinosaur trainer Owen Grady (Pratt) works on taming Velociraptors, the park's first guests begin enjoying the facility, wowed by the wonders of the ancient world. But when the genetically altered hybrid dinosaur called the Indominus Rex gets loose, it's Grady who finds himself the one man left to stop its rampage. 

A new, fun story with a charming cast helped highlight some of the most incredible dinosaur action ever seen on the big screen. Audiences were awestruck, critics were impressed, and the film went on to have the biggest opening weekend up to that point at the box office, topping 2012's "Avengers" en route to a $1.6 billon haul. Today, it stands tall as an example of how to do a legacy sequel right.

27. Kick-Ass

As the 2010s began, the MCU was barely just getting started and the biggest superhero movies were Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" and Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man 3." There was still plenty of room in the superhero movie market for something new to excite audiences, and indie studio Lionsgate found just that in Mark Millar's ultra-violent graphic novel, "Kick-Ass," which became a mid-budget action movie in 2010. 

Helmed by Matthew Vaughn, whose previous hits "Layer Cake" and "Stardust" had made him a hot commodity in Hollywood, the film boasted a cast of young emerging stars including Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, with Nicolas Cage and Mark Strong rounding out the cast. In the film, beleaguered high school teenager and comic book lover Dave Lizewski (Taylor-Johnson) becomes the costumed vigilante called Kick-Ass, though his early efforts are anything but fruitful. But when he gains fame from an internet video, his exploits get the attention of 11-year-old crimefighter Hit-Girl (Grace-Moretz) and her professional hero father Big Daddy (Cage). 

Together, the trio face off with drug kingpin Frank D'Amico (Strong) in a comically bloody, sickeningly twisted psychotic spin on superhero adventuring. With an eclectic cast of do-gooders and plenty of laughs, plus notable performances from Taylor-Johnson and Moretz — who proved a real scene-stealer — "Kick-Ass" became a bona fide cult classic. Snapped up by Fox to helm an "X-Men" relaunch, Vaughn wouldn't return for the sequel, "Kick-Ass 2."

26. Hanna

Audiences nowadays may be familiar with the TV series "Hanna," which recently concluded a three-season run on Prime Video and received strong reviews. But 10 years earlier, "Hanna" originated as a movie directed by Joe Wright, starring Eric Bana, Saoirse Ronan, and Cate Blanchett. Though it received a fairly small release with little fanfare, it garnered rave reviews of its own, with critics lauding the film for its powerful story, moving performances, and polished, innovative action.

Following in the footsteps of similar films such as "La Femme Nikita," the story follows a mysterious young girl with lethal skills. Raised in the remote, snow-covered forests of Finland by her father Erik Heller (Bana), a former CIA assassin, she is being prepared for a sinister mission to eliminate Erik's nemesis, the high-ranking CIA operative Marissa Wiegler (Blanchett). But when Hanna finally sets out to make the kill, she uncovers dark truths that upend her entire world and force her to question everything, from her father's training to her very existence.

A brilliant revenge thriller with an unlikely young killer, "Hanna" was an eye-popping affair that Variety called "an exuberantly crafted chase thriller that pulses with energy from its adrenaline-pumping first minutes to its muted bang of a finish."

25. Upgrade

A low-budget Blumhouse production, "Upgrade" is a cyber-punk sci-fi action movie written and directed by Leigh Whannell, who later performed the same duties on 2020's "The Invisible Man." A twisted take on an age-old premise, "Upgrade" follows the travails of Grey Trace, played by Logan Marshall-Green from "Prometheus," who is paralyzed in a violent attack. Suffering from depression, Grey volunteers to become a test subject for a new microchip that can control his motor functions and help him regain the use of his body.

Gaining enhanced strength and durability, Grey gets more than he bargained for and goes his own quest for vengeance against the men who stole his life. But even with his newfound power, Grey soon realizes that the chip may have a mind of its own. With plenty of surprises, "Upgrade" is a riveting action thriller that nobody expected from Whannell, who was previously known for co-writing, appearing in, and directing horror franchises like "Saw" and Insidious."

24. Kingsman: The Secret Service

While the 2010's were full of reboots, remakes, and sequels, the 2015 action-comedy "Kingsman: The Secret Service" was none of those. Not quite a spoof of spy movies, the film is a tribute to the likes of James Bond, with a nod, a wink and a sly smile that makes clear that it's well aware of the genre's best tropes, and puts its own spin on them.

Though set in the present day, "Kingsman: The Secret Service" has a unique, timeless feel. It centers on a delinquent teenager named "Eggsy" Unwin (Taron Egerton), whose father had been an elite world-saving intelligence agent for a clandestine organization called Kingsman. When he gets in trouble with the law, Eggsy is bailed out by one of his father's old colleagues, a secret agent named Harry Hart (Colin Firth), who introduces him to the secret world of spies and recruits him to be their next agent in their newest mission: to stop a diabolical evil genius named Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson). A philanthropist obsessed with saving mankind from its own hubris, Valentine plots to wipe out billions of lives to end global warming.

While "Kingsman" wasn't a sequel or reboot it did ignite its own franchise, which has already seen a sequel and a prequel, although it's not clear at this point if another movie and spin-off TV series are moving forward.

23. Dredd

Hailing from the pages of the U.K. comic book "2000 A.D.," the stoic futuristic lawman Judge Dredd had previously been the subject of a disastrously campy sci-fi action movie in the 1990s starring Sylvester Stallone. While sequels and previous attempts at reboots had stalled, one finally got off the ground in the 2010s, this time with "Star Trek" and "The Lord of the Rings" star Karl Urban in the title role. Fans were nervous, asking themselves if this new version could live up to the character's comic book roots as a gritty, violent anti-hero in a dark, dystopian cyber-punk future — and the answer was a resounding "yes."

Instead of the kind of sprawling, epic story that comic book films have become known for, 2012's "Dredd" wisely scales back the scope. Dark, grungy, and set in a world of filth and corruption, "Dredd" finds the title character paired with the naive young psychic Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) on a mission into a 200-story apartment block to bring order to the out-of-control crime in its confines. But one drug kingpin who resides there, the vile Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), isn't about to let Dredd take down her criminal empire.

Eschewing style and panache,"Dredd" simply pummeled audiences with gut-bursting visceral violence, with all the grace of a Mike Tyson knockout blow. Brutal and uncompromising, it was also terrifically entertaining, with a straightforward story smart enough to not overplay its hand. It knew exactly what it was, and gave fans everything they wanted. 

22. The Guest

While many of the movies on this list belong to big franchises or feature major Hollywood stars, "The Guest" is something different. A low-budget indie film with a largely unknown cast, the movie was written and directed by Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard, the duo behind "You're Next." A wholly unexpected hit with critics and audiences, it didn't do well at the box office but has gone on to become a cult hit and a favorite of action and horror fans.

The Petersons, a troubled family in the suburbs, are still reeling from the news that their son Caleb has been killed in action while serving in Afghanistan. But their quiet mourning is interrupted by the arrival of David Collins (Dan Stevens), a former soldier who claims he was Caleb's best friend. At first, his presence is a blessing, as he helps little brother Luke (Brendan Meyer) deal with bullies, and saves one of teenage daughter Anna's friends from an abusive boyfriend. But questions surface when their small community is struck by a series of violent murders, and Anna (Maika Monroe) begins to suspect that their houseguest isn't at all who he seems to be.

A mix of chill-inducing psychological horror and blood-spilling action — with a thumping synth score — "The Guest" is a wickedly fun film that revels in its intense violence. Propped up by Dan Stevens' star-making turn as the cold-blooded killer, it may be one of the most under-seen action movies of the decade.

21. Star Trek Into Darkness

In 2009, an iconc science fiction franchise was reborn on the big screen in "Star Trek," a blockbuster summer tentpole from director J.J. Abrams. The film set up a new universe of stories, with a fresh, younger cast that included Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, John Cho, and Simon Pegg aboard a redesigned starship Enterprise. A sequel in 2013 brought back Abrams and the entire cast for an even bigger story with more action, and Benedict Cumberbatch as a reimagined version of a classic "Trek" villain.

The movie begins with a shocking attack on Earth by a vicious madman that leads to the death of Kirk's mentor, Pike (Bruce Greenwood). Joined by new crew member Carol Marcus (Alice Eve), Kirk (Pine) takes his crew out to hunt down the man responsible, but as they follow him to the Klingon homeworld and beyond, they discover the culprit is none other than a centuries-old tyrant named Khan (Cumberbatch). When they finally catch up to him, Kirk discovers evidence of a sinister conspiracy that involves Marcus' father, a high-ranking Starfleet Admiral (Peter Weller).

It's true that "Trek" fans haven't always been in love with the film (via The Guardian), but its fast pace and energetic full-throttle excitement made it the highest grossing in the series. With strong reviews from critics and the broader audience, it stands as one of the best action movies of the decade.

20. Furious 7

Following the two best-reviewed films in one of Hollywood's biggest and most successful action franchises, "Furious 7" already faced an uphill battle to maintain the movies' high quality. But nothing could have prepared the cast and crew for the shocking death of series star Paul Walker, tragically killed in an unrelated car crash during filming of their latest installment. Series star Vin Diesel vowed to complete the film as a homage to his friend and co-star, and he delivered, making Walker's final appearance in the series into its most spectacular story yet. 

A direct follow-up to "Fast and Furious 6," the film sees Dom Torretto and his crew all going their separate ways after taking down Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). But their new quiet lives are shaken when Shaw's brother Deckard (Jason Statham) comes gunning for them. This time though, Torretto and the gang have help in the form of Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), a shadowy government agent who offers to take down Shaw if they'll agree to go on a mission to rescue a computer hacker held hostage by an African warlord (Djimon Hounsou).

While most films in the series were an excuse for glorious action set pieces, "Furious 7" does it with such style and class as to elevate it above its peers. As Walker's final film, it sees his character off in an emotional, surprisingly poignant goodbye that won't leave a dry eye in the house.

19. The Dark Knight Rises

Director Christopher Nolan made a surprising entrance into the world of comic book movies with "Batman Begins" in 2005, followed by the milestone sequel, "The Dark Knight," in 2008. A film that reshaped the genre, it became the first superhero movie to win a major Academy Award — for the late Heath Ledger's indomitable performance as the Joker — and created a high bar for a follow-up. "The Dark Knight Rises" landed in 2012, with Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, and Marion Cotillard joining the cast, and while it was impossible to top its Oscar-winning predecessor, it came close.

Fast-forwarding nearly a decade from the events of the prior film, the movie finds that Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has retired his Batman persona and has been living a quiet life as an aging recluse. But a masked madman called Bane (Hardy) arrives in Gotham and allies himself with cat burglar Selina Kyle (Hathaway) in an attempt to bring the city to its knees, Wayne is forced back into action as the Caped Crusader. But up against a dangerous new supervillain, a mysterious rogue agent, and a new lover who is not what she seems, it could be curtains for Batman.

Stellar performances from its all-star cast, Nolan's sophisticated direction, and several epic action sequences — including a pitched battle and climactic chase through, above, and below the streets of Gotham — helped "The Dark Knight Rises" become another hit for the franchise, capping off one of the best trilogies in comic book movie history.  

18. Atomic Blonde

It's the mid-1980s, and the Cold War between the United States and Russia is still raging. The world doesn't realize that the fall of the Berlin Wall is just days away, and the age of Communism will come crashing down. But in the shadows lurks a secret world of spies who know what's coming, and are making last-ditch efforts to steal what final secrets they can. Among them is one of the world's most elite intelligence operatives, Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron), agent of MI6, who must go on one last mission after the death of a fellow agent at the hands of a KGB assassin.

A lethal killer herself, she must retrieve The List, a secret dossier containing the identities of every undercover double agent active in Berlin, and thwart the plans of her rivals with the help of CIA Agent Emmett Kurzfield (John Goodman). Directed by "John Wick" co-director David Leitch, "Atomic Blonde" was a breath of fresh air for the genre. An elegantly executed spy thriller, its unique period setting, neon color palette, and the indomitable Charlize Theron — whose fight moves bordered on violent ballet, especially in one jawdropping, single-take, 10-minute battle inside an apartment building — made it as much a work of art as it was a thrilling, butt-kicking action movie. Rolling Stone gave it a glowing review, calling it "pure bruising poetry in motion."

17. Thor: Ragnarok

The first "Thor" film was a good but uneven start, while the sequel "Thor: The Dark World" was a misstep as Marvel struggled to bring the character more in line with his fantasy roots. For the threequel, Marvel brought in auteur writer-director Taika Waititi, who overhauled the character by embracing his inherent weirdness, capitalizing on star Chris Hemsworth's impeccable comedic instincts, and adding the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) to his supporting cast.

After their father Odin passes on, Thor and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) are confronted by their long-imprisoned sister Hela (Cate Blanchett), whose newfound freedom sees her determined to lay waste to Asgard. Trying to escape, Thor and Loki find themselves on the planet Sakaar, where the God of Thunder is forced by the tyrannical Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) to fight in a gladiatorial arena for the entertainment of the masses. When he discovers that the current champion is none other than the Hulk, he teams up with the Jade Giant, Loki, and an exiled Asgardian warrior known as Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) to escape the Grandmaster, return to Asgard, and thwart Hela's plans.

An unexpected delight that mixed comedy and outer-space comic book action — including a contest between Thor and the Hulk as well as a final battle with Hela and her forces — "Ragnarok" reinvigorated the series and Thor himself. Turning him from "Avengers" supporting player to rockstar fan-favorite, his reinvention would carry into "Avengers: Infinity War," "Avengers: Endgame," and Waititi's sequel, "Thor: Love and Thunder."

16. John Wick

The revenge movie has long been a staple of the action genre, but it hadn't seen a truly milestone, formula-shaking entry in quite some time. Then came the 2014 surprise "John Wick," a slick, stylish, fast-paced revenge film starring Keanu Reeves that took the world by storm and sparked an unexpected blockbuster franchise. A modestly-budgeted, low-fi shoot-em-up, it was a gracefully violent joyride that gave Reeves his next great action hero role.

In a heightened reality where deadly assassins occupy a secret unseen underworld, Reeves plays the titular John Wick, a retired hitman who wants to put his life of violence behind him. But his quiet serenity is interrupted when home invaders steal his car and kill his dog, who was all he had left to remember his dead wife. With his lust for death reawakened, Wick sets out on a blood-soaked rampage to exact revenge, working his way through the criminal underworld gunning down baddies with ferocious ease.

A stunning, no-holds-barred action movie unlike any other, "John Wick" was dripping in style, and was lauded by the Guardian as "utterly to the point and surprisingly enjoyable — if you don't have qualms about enjoying a movie in which there are no characters, only targets with varying scores." Praising Reeves' performance as "robotically saturnine," they labeled the film as "an almost zen-like exercise in wholesale slaughter." Wildly popular, the film has spawned three sequels, with a spin-off TV series on the way.

15. Spider-Man: Homecoming

The early 2010s saw a pair of deeply disappointing "Spider-Man" reboots starring Andrew Garfield, prompting Sony and Marvel to strike an unprecedented deal. Together, the two studios would now share the character of Spider-Man, who would be incorporated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe proper, with Marvel Studios helping to produce the wall-crawler's standalone movies. Spinning out of his triumphant introduction in "Captain America: Civil War," Spidey's first solo outing, "Spider-Man: Homecoming," landed in 2017 and was everything fans had been hoping for.

With fresh-faced young actor Tom Holland in the title role, the film rebooted the franchise with a young Peter Parker in high school struggling to balance his studies with his superhero duties. Now in the MCU, Parker has an ally and mentor in the form of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), who is helping him train to become a full-fledged Avenger. But when a dangerous weapons dealer threatens the city and Parker feels like Stark isn't taking him seriously, it's up to the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to stop the deadly new threat. 

Fast, funny, and fresh, "Spider-Man: Homecoming" was a sensational debut for Holland's webslinger, a rip-roaring superhero adventure with a light-hearted vibe that was met with rave reviews. Successfully integrating Spider-Man into the MCU was the cream on top, allowing him to go off on adventures with the Avengers while teaming up with the likes of Iron Man, Nick Fury, and Dr. Strange in his own solo trilogy.

14. Deadpool

2016 saw the release of the next major "X-Men" spin-off, "Deadpool," in which Ryan Reynolds rebooted the role he'd played briefly in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." But even with a major Hollywood star and a fan-favorite character it was no easy road to the screen. The film had been stuck in development hell for years until Reynolds himself, a big supporter of the project, leaked early test footage that set the internet ablaze and forced Fox to finally greenlight the project.

Wade Wilson (Reynolds) is a down-on-his-luck mercenary whose engagement to sweetheart Vanessa (Monica Baccarin) is turned upside down when he's diagnosed with terminal cancer. Looking for any way out, Wilson volunteers for an experimental procedure by the twisted surgeon Ajax (Ed Skrein) that gives him mutant healing powers, but also leaves him hideously disfigured. With a wry, sarcastic sense of humor and an energetic attitude, the wisecracking killer sets out to get revenge, while a pair of comically inept X-Men try to get him to join their troupe of superheroes.

A film squarely aimed at an adult audience, unlike the hits churned out for the MCU, few expected "Deadpool" to ever be the box office smash it became. But with more than $700 million in ticket sales, it was the highest grossing R-rated film of all time, with Reynolds' side-splitting improv punctuated by explosive, non-stop action.

13. Edge of Tomorrow

In between starring in "Mission Impossible" installments, action hero Tom Cruise took time away to film a sci-fi thriller pairing him with emerging superstar Emily Blunt. While Cruise's few jaunts into sci-fi have been hit or miss — "Minority Report" is a classic, while "Oblivion" is a mixed bag — "Edge of Tomorrow" proved to be another all-time great. With a high-concept premise, it did more than give him another reason to run on screen: it sent him traveling through a repeating time loop.

The world is at war with a vicious race of aliens who have devastated mankind. With the tide finally turning, Major William Cage (Cruise) — a high-ranking military journalist with no combat experience — is sent to the front lines by a bitter commander. But when Cage is struck by a strange energy from one of the aliens, he finds himself repeating the same day over and over, dying each time, and desperately trying to warn his commanders that the mission is a trap laid by the enemy. The only person who believes him is Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Blunt), a woman who once experienced the same phenomenon. Now the unlikely pair must team up to save the planet from total annihilation.

An ambitious, visceral sci-fi stunner, "Edge of Tomorrow" dazzled audiences with its deft script, impressive action, and slick direction.

12. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Marvel's Sentinel of Liberty made his debut in the comics in 1941, but would have to wait 70 years to make a splash on the big screen, debuting in "Captain America: The First Avenger" in 2011. It would be the sequel, "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," that brought Steve Rogers into the world of critically-acclaimed, blockbuster action movies. Television directors Anthony and Joe Russo were recruited to test their mettle, and they delivered an action movie that still stands as one of the best in the MCU.

Following in the aftermath of the superhero team-up "The Avengers," Steve Rogers is still learning to cope with life in the 21st century while serving as an agent of SHIELD. But when he discovers a sinister conspiracy within the agency itself, he becomes their latest target. On the run and pursued by a deadly assassin called the Winter Soldier, Captain America recruits fellow Avenger Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and a former serviceman named Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) to stay ahead of his pursuers and expose the diabolical plot. 

A homage to classic political thrillers like "Three Days of the Condor" and "Marathon Man," the "Captain America" sequel was riddled with nail-biting suspense and edge-of-your-seat, immersive action sequences. Though the stakes were smaller than the world-destroying "Avengers" films, "The Winter Soldier" was a first rate actioner that took the patriotic superhero and turned him into the toughest super-agent this side of Jason Bourne.

11. Guardians of the Galaxy

The Marvel Cinematic Universe expanded — literally — in 2014 with "Guardians of the Galaxy," which explored the final frontier for the first time. The studio recruited indie filmmaker James Gunn, writer and director of the low-budget superhero comedy "Super," to helm the galactic expansion, which he infused with his signature mix of action, humor, and heart. The results were as unexpected as they were thrilling, a sci-fi adventure with a charismatic cast led by comedian Chris Pratt and "Star Trek" star Zoe Saldana, with former wrestler Dave Bautista and the voices of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper rounding out the cast of space-faring superheroes.

Pratt plays Peter Quill, a dashing, roguish outlaw whose latest client has him searching for a powerful and mysterious orb. After finding it, he gets entangled with fellow bounty hunter Gamora (Saldana), the dim-witted but vengeful Drax the Destroyer (Bautista), and the intelligent mutant raccoon Rocket (Cooper) and his partner Groot (Diesel), a walking tree. Together, these disparate oddballs reluctantly team up to stop the would-be conquerer Ronan from acquiring the orb and laying waste to entire worlds.

A major risk for Marvel at the time, which had only been focused up to that point on characters that were already well-known, "Guardians of the Galaxy" successfully launched a new sci-fi action franchise and made Gunn one of the most sought-after directors in Hollywood.

10. Black Panther

Since launching its own studio in 2008 with the release of "Iron Man," Marvel has created its cinematic universe by utilizing many of its most famous characters. But one beloved superhero from the 1960s was conspicuously absent, and his status as the first major black superhero in comics made it all the more glaring. But after teasing a solo film for years, "Black Panther" finally landed in cinemas in 2018 and became a billion-dollar hit.

The film sees T'Challa, king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda and the Black Panther, confronted by his estranged cousin Eric Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), a deadly mercenary who challenges him for the throne. Defeating T'Challa in ritual combat, Killmonger takes up the mantle of the Black Panther and plans to use Wakanda's advanced technology for his own violent brand of social justice across the globe. But while T'Challa and his allies — sister Shuri, bodyguard Okoye, and old flame Nakia — fight to stop Killmonger from enacting his brutal scheme, he is forced to wonder if his rival is right.

Directed by "Creed" helmer Ryan Coogler, with Chadwick Boseman reprising his role from "Captain America: Civil War," the film was a groundbreaking superhero action movie that changed the landscape of Hollywood forever. Released to rave reviews that lauded the film's social messaging, stylized action, and powerful performances, it conquered the box office and made the late Boseman an immortal member of the Marvel pantheon.

9. War for the Planet of the Apes

In Hollywood there has long been a prevailing theory that threequels are disappointing, with most fans pointing to lackluster trilogy cappers like "X-Men: The Last Stand," "Blade: Trinity," and "The Hangover Part III." But proving that the threequel curse is all myth, "War for the Planet of The Apes" landed in 2017 and was the best of the three films in the rebooted franchise that was a fixture on big and small screens in the 1970s. 

Directed again by Matt Reeves of "The Batman" fame, the film followed "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" and saw the remnants of mankind in a battle for survival against Caesar and the intelligent apes that have begun to overrun the planet. But while the thoughtful, even-keeled Caesar wants to find a way to live peacefully with his human neighbors, the pernicious and bloodthirsty leader of a human militia named The Colonel (Woody Harrelson) wants to take back the planet and wipe out Caesar's people. 

Bringing the new "Planet of the Apes" trilogy to an explosive conclusion, "War for the Planet of the Apes" featured more action than the series had seen yet. It was also an emotional story, filled with a moving social message, that brought a narrative heft audiences may not have expected, while another impressive performance from Andy Serkis as Caesar made the film a crowning achievement in his motion capture career. 

8. Inception

Although he ventured into the realm of superheroes with his Batman trilogy, Christopher Nolan didn't move completely away from exploring his own unique ideas. Following the Oscar-winning success of "The Dark Knight," Nolan would take a brief detour before directing its follow-up with what many fans still feel is his crowning achievement: the 2010 sci-fi action thriller "Inception." 

A mind-bending story, "Inception" is set in a bizarre near future where corporate espionage agents called extractors can steal secrets by entering the dreams of their rivals. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Cobb, an elite extractor whose criminal activity has made him a fugitive, unable to return home to his wife and children. But with an offer to have his records expunged, a powerful mogul named Saito (Ken Watanabe) gives Cobb a chance at a normal life if he'll pull off an unthinkable job: an inception. This rare task will require him to enter the dreams of Saito's competitor and implant an idea into his mind. Cobb and a team of highly trained operatives begin a nearly impossible assignment that quickly grows more complex and exponentially more dangerous.

Packed with high-concept special effects and mind-blowing practical stunt work — including a fight in a gravity-free hotel corridor and a massive battle on a snowy mountainside — "Inception" was a feast for the eyes that tested the limits of the imagination, and one of the most visually arresting action movies of the decade.

7. Skyfall

Relaunched in 2006 with a darker, grittier tone and a new lead actor in the form of Daniel Craig, the James Bond franchise reached new heights with the actor's third film, the 2014 blockbuster "Skyfall." The first and so far only film in Bond's 60-year history to pass the billion-dollar mark, it was bigger than ever before, but it was also better, a smartly crafted thriller as good as the series had ever seen. Joining Craig for his newest adventure were newcomers Ben Winshaw and Naomie Harris as Bond's allies, and Javier Bardem as the sinister villain Silva.

In "Skyfall," MI6 becomes the target of a ruthless madman who compromises their agents all around the world, so that nobody knows who they can trust. Called back into service after a short-lived retirement, Bond captures the man called Silva (Bardem) and discovers he's a former MI6 operative with a vendetta against M (Judi Dench). But unsure of who they can trust — including newly installed agency director Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) — it's up to Bond and M to take down the ruthless Silva.

Dotted with spectacular chase sequences involving trains, cars, and motorcycles, the customary globetrotting set pieces took the action from London and Shanghai to Turkey and Macau. "Skyfall" was the biggest Bond movie yet, with a captivating story to match.

6. Logan

Since arriving in Hollywood in 2000, star Hugh Jackman has been inextricably linked to the role of Wolverine, the bitter, adamantium-clawed mutant he'd played in his major Hollywood studio debut, "X-Men." Nearly 20 years later, after reprising the role in five more "X-Men" films and two solo spin-offs, he was finally ready to say goodbye. The result was the 2017 film "Logan," a superhero story unlike any other, which saw Jackman paired with "3:10 to Yuma" director James Mangold in a gritty, violent story loosely adapted from the hit comic book series "Old Man Logan."

The epic swan song sees the eponymous Logan aging beyond repair, with his renowned healing factor failing him. Hiding out in the desert, he cares for an ailing Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), staying isolated from those who still hunt mutantkind. But when he comes across a mysterious young mutant girl named Laura (Daphne Keen), whose powers seem eerily similar to his own, he reluctantly agrees to keep her safe from a group of mercenaries who are looking for her. 

An emotionally powerful story of faith, family, and forgiveness, "Logan" is the haunting story of a man's final quest to find meaning in life and perhaps in death. Making his final appearance as Wolverine, Jackman poured his heart into the role and the results are all up on screen, helping make "Logan" the highest-rated and most critically acclaimed of Fox's "X-Men" universe of films.

5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

As the 2010s dawned, "Star Wars" fans had long given up hope of ever seeing the fabled sequel trilogy once promised by creator George Lucas. Following the prequels, which concluded with the 2005 release "Revenge of the Sith," Lucas himself swore off ever making another "Star Wars," and it seemed that the galaxy far, far away would forever be limited to animation, comic books, and toys. But in 2012, the Walt Disney Company made a surprise announcement that it had purchased Lucasfilm Ltd, and was already in the early stages of producing what would become "Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens."

Released in 2015, it set the box office ablaze, smashing records and reintroducing the franchise to a new generation with an all-new cast that included Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Adam Driver. But Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher also returned as Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia, in a story that saw a new enemy emerge from the remnants of the Galactic Empire and a new young trio of heroes rise up to stop them.

With some of the most thrilling action ever seen in a "Star Wars" film, and plenty of crowd-pleasing moments, "The Force Awakens" successfully kicked off a new trilogy of movies. Fast-paced and energetic, with a likable new characters, even critics of the sequel trilogy as a whole have to admit that this one ranks as one of the best "Star Wars" films.

4. Mission: Impossible - Fallout

Tom Cruise wrapped up the 2010s for his long-running super-spy franchise with 2018's "Mission: Impossible – Fallout." Cruise returned once more as intrepid IMF agent Ethan Hunt, and with him as always were his trusted team of Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), while Rebecca Ferguson encored from "Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation" as former MI6 agent Ilsa Faust. Angela Bassett joined the cast as CIA director Erika Sloane, while Christopher McQuarrie was back in the director's chair.

This time, the criminal organization led by Solomon Lane in "Rogue Nation" has reformed as The Apostles, led by the enigmatic John Lark, a cunning and shadowy arch-villain who plans to assemble his own nuclear weapons. With a plot to steal three plutonium cores, the IMF operatives led by Hunt are forced to work together with their counterparts in the CIA, including the pugnacious agent August Walker (Henry Cavill). But when the CIA begins to suspect that John Lark is really an alias for Hunt himself, he and his IMF cohorts are forced to go rogue once more.

Upping the action ante once again, Cruise plunges headlong into epic motorcycle chases, high-flying stunts — including a vertigo-inducing HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) jump from a plane — and a memorable bare-knuckle three-way fist fight. Continuing to top its predecessors, "Mission: Impossible – Fallout" sent the series into the 2020s with aplomb, setting the stage for the series-ending two-parter, "Dead Reckoning."

3. Dunkirk

Despite being more well-known for cerebral crime dramas and sci-fi thrillers, Christopher Nolan could rightfully stake a claim to action director of the decade, having helmed three different entries on our list. The best is "Dunkirk," a passion project for the filmmaker, who had originally dreamed up the story for the film while on a boat trip in the mid-1990s (via The Hollywood Reporter). More than 20 years later, having cut his teeth on indie films like "Memento" before hitting it big with his "Dark Knight" trilogy, Nolan finally had the clout to bring his World War II story to life.

Following the disastrous defeat at the Battle of France in 1940, surviving Allied soldiers have become trapped at Dunkirk, a small French town on the border with Belgium — just miles away from the United Kingdom, but separated by the Strait of Dover. To save them, a massive fleet of merchant vessels, fishing ships, and non-military seafaring craft is hurriedly assembled, manned by ordinary citizen volunteers who bravely risk their lives to save the stranded soldiers. 

At Dunkirk we follow British private Tommy Jensen (Fionn Whitehead), as he struggles to survive until the evacuation can reach them. Once the fleet arrives, it's up to a small squad of Spitfire fighters to defend them, with pilot Farrier (Tom Hardy) ready to lay down his life to get the mission done. Nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, it's easily one of Nolan's best.

2. Avengers: Endgame

Marvel brought a decade of comic book action movie dominance to a thunderous conclusion in 2019 with "Avengers: Endgame." The conclusion to a multi-year saga that spanned more than 20 films, it capped a series of super-teamups that reshaped the landscape of blockbuster cinema as we know it. Released just one year after "Avengers: Infinity War" had left audiences in disbelief with a mind-blowing cliffhanger, fever-pitch anticipation helped it rocket to the top of the box office and smash the record for opening weekend held by its predecessor by more than $100 million.

But it wasn't just big bucks, because "Endgame" was also a superhero action movie of the highest order, a bombastically produced film that saw the heroes regroup to stop the madman Thanos. A clever time travel plot revisits some of the MCU's best entries, and turns what could have been little more than a montage of clips into a stunning adventure full of cheer-worthy action sequences that serve as a checklist of every Marvel fan's most-wanted moments. 

But the brilliance of "Endgame" isn't the action: it's the heart and emotion, as well as the culmination of over a decade of stories in an adventure with game-changing consequences that are still felt today. From dizzying highs to devastating lows, "Avengers: Endgame" exceeded all expectations, making it the best comic book film of the 2010s by a country mile.

1. Mad Max: Fury Road

A long-awaited sequel to a beloved post-apocalyptic sci-fi trilogy, "Mad Max: Fury Road" took so long to come to fruition that original star Mel Gibson had aged out of the role. But that didn't stop the film from achieving greatness, with star Tom Hardy stepping into Max's leather jacket for an impeccable action movie that impressed audiences and critics by being a nearly flawless film.

In "Fury Road," the world is a decimated, barren landscape of lawlessness where water and gasoline are precious commodities. In a stronghold called The Citadel, we meet Tom Hardy's Max Rockatansky, held captive alongside an enslaved populace that psychopathic warlord Immortan Joe has bent to his will. When one of Joe's top lieutenants, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), decides to flee his grasp with his five wives in tow, chaos ensues. After the renegade Max gets free, he joins Furiosa on her quest to save her fellow women warriors and outrun Joe's forces.

More than just splendor and spectacle, "Fury Road" is a tour-de-force of visual storytelling and raw emotion, a masterpiece of modern cinema from the mind of original series creator and director George Miller. Leaving audiences dumbstruck by its powerful storytelling, roller-coaster action — most of it done practically, with as little digital work as possible — and pulse-pounding score, "Fury Road" is the best action movie of the 2010s.