90s action movies. That is the topic this week, and there are a lot of great choices to fill up my final list. I have to thank John Rocha and Matt Knost once again to providing me with such an enjoyable podcast once again. They never seem to disappoint.
I chose to eliminate the Science fiction/action such as Independence Day or The Fifth Element out of the running (although one could argue that one or two of the movies on the list would fall into the category.) At least, we do not have the space aliens/outer space science fiction going on.
The EYG Top 10 90s Action Movies
#10. Air Force One. This was the toughest spot because there could have been literally around 5-6 others that were close to this spot. However, I wound up choosing Air Force One thanks to a great campy 90s performance from Harrison Ford, delivering one of the cheesiest lines of all time “Get off my plane.” Gary Oldman as the Russian villain is a great part of the movie as well. Sure there is no way that this could possible ever happen, but that only makes it better. It is also one of the best ‘Merican movie around.
#9. The Hunt for Red October. The best of the Tom Clancy Jack Ryan series of movies, Hunt for Red October brings so much tense and tight action aboard a nuclear submarine with the one and only Sean Connery that you can hardly stand it. Alec Baldwin was a solid Jack Ryan and led a stellar cast.
#8. Blade. Wesley Snipes became the “Daywalker” in the great movie that started off a not-so-great trilogy. That does not take away from the classic film that kicked it all off. Blade was an important film showing Hollywood that these comic book movies can be very successful. Fans to this day are hoping that Wesley Snipes could resume the role in the current MCU.
#7. The Rock. And I do not mean Dwayne Johnson. Another appearance by Sean Connery on this list arrives with one of my favorite Michael Bay films. Bay’s typical film style had not worn out its welcome yet and actually fit brilliantly in this film. Nicolas Cage and Ed Harris joined Connery here in one of the great action films of the time. The Rock, in this case, is Alcatraz and it is so much fun. I heard Matt Knost talk about this on the Top 10 Show how Sean Connery’s role was kind of a nod and wink to James Bond, an old time English spy who had been in prison for years. I never thought of that but it make a lot of sense and I may have to rewatch this at some point with that new piece of Intel in my pocket.
#6. Speed. The movie that made bus rides so much more exciting! Keanu Reeves makes his first appearance on the list as the movie’s hero opposite young faced and lovely Sandra Bullock. This film was not supposed to be such a huge hit, but it really did propel both of these actors into the stratosphere of stardom. The scenes of the bus were some of the best of the decade and it made you really wonder how they were going to get out of this predicament. Even after getting off the bus, the movie went ahead and amped up the speed by putting Keanu and film villain Dennis Hopper on the top of a subway train. Speed was always over 50 MPH!
#5. Die Hard 2. Rocha had some negative things to say about this film, but I love it. I was such a huge fan of the original film that, even if there are some gaping plot holes, I was going to love this one as well. I mean… it is John McClane in an airport. How could that be any better? Dennis Franz played the foil to McClane this time and was the guy you loved to hate, until he realized the truth that was. One of my favorite moments was John out on the frozen runways with two makeshift torches trying desperately to signal the incoming plane that they were descending too low. This is a perfect example of the heroism of John McClane. Yes, he failed there, but he was going to do whatever he could to save people. And then later… the icicle to the eye. Boom.
#4. Enemy of the State. Neither John or Matt mentioned this one today, but I love this movie. Will Smith as a somewhat slimy lawyer accidentally gets a piece of information dumped on him that leads to the US government dark forces trying to track him down. However, fortunately for Smith, he is able to come across an old retired but not yet dead spy who helps him avoid the government agents and make his way back to his own life. Will Smith starred opposite of Gene Hackman and the pair had an awesome chemistry. Hackman brought a lot of humanity and little character quirks to the former spy that you could really relate to his unhappiness of Smith dropping all this trouble in his lap. It also brought the idea of the government surveilling us all right to the front of the story. Who knows what the government might be into. Enemy of the State was a film ahead of its time.
#3. Terminator 2: Judgment Day. This is one of those science fiction movies that kind of breaks the rule, but this is such an awesome film that it needed to be on this list. The best Terminator movie at the time and since, T2 brought back Arnold Schwarzenegger to the giant killing machine role, but made him the hero. The it gave us an even more frightening Terminator in Robert Patrick as the T-1000. Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor had transformed from a normal woman to a bad ass militarist desperate to protect her son, no matter how crazy it makes her look. This is still the Terminator movie to measure them all by.
#2. The Fugitive. I really considered this for number one because this is one of the best movies around. I had not been overly interested in this film. I did not know the series it was based on and I did not find the idea interesting. Of course, I loved Harrison Ford and that was the key selling point. This is tremendous! I loved Harrison Ford. I love movie characters that are smart, and Ford’s Dr. Richard Kimble was really smart. Everyone was just following behind him as he lead his own investigation in the murder of his wife, the one he had been convicted of, and he continually outsmarted everyone. Tommy Lee Jones is magnificent as well as the U.S. Marshal searching for Kimble, Samuel Gerard, a role he does so brilliantly he gets his own spin off movie. I really loved The Fugitive but there is one movie that I just could not get it above. It is the number one film…
#1. The Matrix. I am in agreement with both Matt and John that the best 90s action film was the Matrix, starring Keanu Reeves as Neo, the One. The creativity and originality on display in The Matrix is unlike any other film. The way we see Neo slowly go through the training to take the mantel of the One, but never really feeling it. His own doubt kept him from being the One, and it took the belief of Trinity to make it so. We also have one of the great villains (or many of the great villains depending) in film history as Agent Smith. Hugo Weaving was wonderful as the unstoppable agent who gets stopped in the end. Yes, the sequels are best not talked about but again, that does not take away from the greatness of this film. Just remember… there is no spoon.
So there they are. The top 10 best action films of the 1990s according to EYG.
Honorable mentions: The Crow, Point Break, Face/Off, Demolition Man, Armageddon, True Lies, Total Recall, Die Hard with a Vengeance,