If the 1980s were the decade defined by the action movie, the ’90s were a decade that pushed the boundaries of what you could do within the genre. The best action movies from that decade showcased the influence that foreign films, and Hong Kong action movies in particular, were having on their American counterparts.
The action got grittier, the headliners got bigger, and the directors proved that they could push even an absurd premise to its very limits. These are the best action movies of the 1990s, a very good decade for action movies.
James Cameron is pretty good at making a sequel, and Terminator 2 may be his best. The movie, which was famously spoiled for audiences by the trailer, follows Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 as he attempts to save John Connor from the threat posed to him and his mother by the T-1000, a more advanced model that has been sent back in time to kill him. This movie is way more family-friendly than its predecessor and also features effects that still hold up today. On top of all that, it reinvented Sarah Connor as a genuine action hero, and turned her into an icon in the process.
Nicolas Cage and John Travolta are a genuine match made in heaven, and Face/Off is the perfect movie to see the two of them square off. Starting from a genuinely absurd premise (the two lead actors’ characters switch faces), Face/Off doesn’t get any less demented as it winds its way toward a conclusion. Fortunately, director John Woo is on hand to ensure that, as ridiculous as Face/Off often is, it also has a few genuinely hair-raising action sequences that few modern blockbusters would even dare to attempt.
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