The ’90s were all about action at the box office. And it’s not an exaggeration to say that several of the top action movies of the ’90s rank among the best in the genre. But there are far more bad ’90s action movies than there are good ones.
Instead of running down the truly forgettable flicks from that decade, we’re throwing the spotlight on five bad ’90s action movies that you still need to watch. Each of the five films below has at least one or more redeeming factors. But not every one of these movies is readily available on the major streamers. So you’ll have to rent or buy them if you want to see them all.
Sandra Bullock has gone on the record about regretting her return for Speed 2: Cruise Control, which her co-star from the first film, Keanu Reeves, successfully avoided. To replace Reeves’ Jack Traven, the sequel introduces Officer Alex Shaw (Jason Patric) as Annie’s new boyfriend. The script wastes little time getting the new couple on a cruise ship that is unknowingly sailing into danger.
What makes this film watchable is the absolutely unhinged performance of Willem Dafoe (Inside) as John Geiger, the deranged man who seizes remote control of the ship. Nobody portrays a crazy villain quite like Dafoe. The film’s climatic stunt is also very impressive, even if the rest of the movie plays like Speed-lite.
Watch Speed 2: Cruise Control on Starz.
Double the Van Damme, double the action. That was probably the rationale behind Double Impact, the movie that cast Jean-Claude Van Damme as twin brothers, Alex and Chad Wagner. Decades ago, Alex and Chad’s parents were murdered by Triad assassins, and the boys were raised separately. In the present, the brothers’ reunion isn’t a happy occasion, and they don’t see eye-to-eye.
Alex is particularly angry that Chad seems to have an eye for his girlfriend, Danielle Wilde (Alonna Shaw). But their mentor, Frank Avery (Geoffrey Lewis), tries to keep the twins on task so they can take down Nigel Griffith (Alan Scarfe), the man who ordered the deaths of their parents. This movie hits all of the same notes as Van Damme’s previous action flicks, and several that came after. Yet there’s nothing quite like watching Van Damme trying to create two separate personas for the brothers. It’s worth watching for that alone.
Watch Double Impact on Max.
For a bad action movie, The Long Kiss Goodnight is actually pretty good. Critics were divided on the second attempt to make Geena Davis into an action star. The first attempt, Cutthroat Island, is a hilarious blunder on all levels. But The Long Kiss Goodnight actually has redeeming qualities, especially because it pairs Davis with Samuel L. Jackson.
Davis plays Samantha Caine, a woman who lost her memories eight years ago. To reclaim her identity, Samantha hired private investigator Mitch Henessey (Jackson) to help her find answers. However, neither of them is prepared when they discover that Samantha was once Charlene “Charly” Elizabeth Baltimore, a top assassin for the CIA. And now that Charly has been found, several of her old enemies want her dead.
Early in his action career, it seemed like Bruce Willis could do no wrong. And then Hudson Hawk came along. Although the movie is better than Willis’ long string of awful low-budget direct-to-video films, it’s pretty far from a good movie. Within the film, Willis plays Eddie “Hudson Hawk” Hawkins, a recently paroled art thief who wants to take some time for himself. Unfortunately, Eddie quickly gets blackmailed into revisiting his life of crime.
The plot of the film is absolutely ludicrous, and it even features Andie MacDowell as Anna Baragli, a secret operative for the Vatican. Check this one out for an absolutely bonkers evil plan including the works of Leonardo Da Vinci. If you’ve ever seen the TV series Alias, J.J. Abrams may have lifted the Da Vinci storyline from this movie to that series.
Years before he was Blade, Wesley Snipes was the title character of Passenger 57. This was still early in Hollywood’s “Die Hard in a ….” phase, so it may be one of the first Die Hard knockoffs to take place on a plane. Snipes plays Chief John Cutter, an airline security expert who just happens to be on the same flight as the FBI and their prisoner, Charles Rane (Bruce Payne).
Rane is several steps ahead of his captors, and he quickly engineers a mid-flight hijacking with his followers, including Sabrina Ritchie (Elizabeth Hurley). It falls to Cutter to stop Rane from escaping, even though his only ally on the plane is a flight attendant, Marti Slayton (Alex Datcher), whom he previously trained. Critics savaged Passenger 57, but this was the beginning of Snipes’ reign as an action star. If nothing else, that makes it significant. Payne is also quite good as Rane, as he plays the psycho villain to perfection.
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