Top 10 Most Underrated Action Movies

Just like there are many underrated or underappreciated games, there's also movies.
While the gap between good and bad action movies is usually pretty steep, there is no denying that there are many action movies that got critically panned and or flopped at the box office, yet aren't as bad as everybody says after close re-examination and after some time has passed.

Once again in order to raise attention for some of those underrated action movies, let's count down Invisible Kid's "Top 10 Most Underrated Action Movies" (as of December 2016).

On a quick sidenote: for this list, not only action movies but also action adventure movies count.

Now let's start...


The Island
directed by Michael Bay

Especially over the course of the last century, there has been plenty of reason to dislike director Michael Bay and almost all of his work - which mainly consist out of busting out Transformers sequel after Transformers sequel anyway.
But among some of his few exceptional movies of the recent past, like Pain & Gain, there was a little forgotten sci-fi-movie of his called The Island. While the movie's concept of clones being bought and used for replacement organs is nothing new, many movie fans quickly wrote this movie off as being shallow and forgettable. And even though The Island sure enough could've delved a bit deeper into the complexities of its themes, Michael Bay has to be given credit for delivering a movie that managed to actually quite nicely balance exhilirating chase action scenes with a perfectly enjoyable story to boot. Sure enough it's no sci-fi-masterpiece but as far as just good popcorn entertainment blockbuster movies go, you can't go wrong with The Island. One of Bay's most underrated movie efforts that manages to keep his trademark plot holes and stupidity to a fairly surprising minimum.

Standout moment: The highway chase


Jurassic Park 3
directed by Joe Johnston

Only after a short time it became an instantly cool thing to hate on Jurassic Park 3. But especially now after roughly 15 years have past since it got released into theaters, is the hate really appropriate?
Actually, not really. Most notably in comparison with the WAY dumber and more lackluster Jurassic World, Jurassic Park 3's strengths (that many movie fans came to overlook) today manage to shine through even stronger than ever before. Ignoring to become a slapped together, loud, dumb and generic CGI-extravaganza like Jurassic World, Jurassic Park 3 actually managed to create many memorable scenes that perfectly work with the tension and horror elements that made the very first Jurassic Park so great in the first place. Sure enough its story was quite a bit been-there-done-that, yet somehow the movie itself already knows that and embraces it to its fullest potential. It's a simple adventure movie without any needless message to hammer in your head like The Lost World. Additionally, with awesome practical effects that easily blow the CGI garbage of Jurassic World out of the water, it's actually the one Jurassic Park movie that gets the closest to recapturing the dread and survival aspect of the original first movie. Sure it had it's share of minor obviously dumb moments (like the Raptor dream sequence), yet those are easily forgiven when holding them up against the much more prominent great moments in Jurassic Park 3.

Standout moment: The plane crash and following Spinosaurus attack


Wild Wild West
directed by Barry Sonnenfeld

Wild Wild West aka that one movie that Will Smith chose over doing The Matrix (thank god).
After having a big success streak at the international box office with movies like Independence Day, Smith seemed unstoppable. Yet the box office flop which was Wild Wild West proved otherwise. Up to this day, the movie is still widely panned by critics and movie fans.
Yet under honest examination, Wild Wild West isn't that bad of a movie - actually it feels more like a far stretched new interpretation of the archetypical Will Smith movie, which makes it kind of refreshing. While the humor in the movie is a whole lot of hit and miss and appeals more to the more "simple minded" or easily amused viewer, one cannot deny that Wild Wild West does a good job of giving you a Western set action adventure with a twist. Especially the very outlandish steampunk vibe throughout the entire movie gives it a certain very unique feel and makes it something special from the visual standpoint alone. On top of that, the CGI effects, especially the one of the giant mechanical spider, are to this day absolutely top notch.
After so many classics like Independence Day and Enemy of the State (and especially The Matrix from the same year), it can be easily said that at the time, Wild Wild West felt like a "too sure of itself Will Smith movie". But now after rewatching it, you might find yourself liking it more than you should simply due to the movie just completely embracing its own experimental nature and "Will-Smith-ness".

Standout moment: The showdown on the giant mechanical spider


Alien vs. Predator
directed by Paul W. S. Anderson

Scripts for a potential Alien vs. Predator movie got shoved around in Hollywood for many years during the 90s and early 2000s. And when it finally came out...people were disappointed and now deem this movie to have been the start of the big downfall for both franchises back in the day.
Yet after really taking apart why people dislike this movie, most complaints easily come down to one big thing - that it lacked enough gore because it wasn't R-rated.
But is the lack of any real gore or enough blood really reason enough to kick this movie into the trash? Absolutely not!
While the decision to have this movie rated PG-13 instead of R was most likely the call of studio 20th Century Fox itself, Alien vs Predator did a fantastic job of connecting both species together in a neat claustrophobic story. Without having a big Alien invasion at its center, the Antarctic underground pyramid was a great setting for an isolated showdown between both races with some human protagonists thrown in. Additionally, with some great ideas for some extended lore as well as a seriously excellent final act and showdown (that has been adapted from one of the best AvP comics by the way), people definitely shouldn't write this entire movie off simply because it lacks some additional blood. Because aside from this relatively minor flaw, Alien vs. Predator hit more or less all of its marks.

Standout moment: The showdown against the Alien Queen


 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
directed by Rob Marshall

Here we got a movie that simply came out too late.
After the incredibly confusing and lackluster Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3, fans of the franchise already had a clear image of where the franchise was heading and pretty much "abandoned ship" (or at least set their expectations incredibly low). Pirates of the Caribbean 4 (or Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) was a big financial success but critically panned and quickly forgotten.
And that's a true shame because Stranger Tides actually felt like it was what fans exactly wanted to see for a Pirates of the Caribbean 2. Stranger Tides got rid of pretty much everything annoying from the actual second and third movie, namely Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, a lame villain and a confusing plot, and instead gave us a very well servicable and self-contained adventure storyline. Now thankfully focussing completely on Jack Sparrow, his one liners and comedic monologues might be quite a bit away from reaching the heights of the first movie, yet Stranger Tides additionally gave us a new great villain with Ian McShane as Blackbeard, expectedly numerous nice action scenes and just an all around very enjoyable standalone adventure.

Standout Moment: The bloodthirsty mermaids attacking the pirate crew


From Paris With Love
directed by Pierre Morel

It came just as suddenly as it disappeared - the 2010 Luc Besson scripted action thriller From Paris With Love. It only received lukewarm reviews and only made just barely enough money internationally to cover its production costs.
Most probably due to John Travolta's decreasing popularity, the movie failed to find a target audience and had troubles selling itself over the usual buddy cop movie fare. But when actually taking a look at the movie, it is surprisingly entertaining. And oddly enough, most of the entertainment is exactly reached due to the great interaction, performances and chemistry between John Travolta and co-star Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Sure enough, the pairing of the CIA law-breaking badass and the by-the-book polite and stuck up boy scout agent has been done numerous times already, yet somehow From Paris With Love still manages to never lose the viewer's attention. A quite exciting and well paced story about hunting down a terrorist group is at the center of this hidden gem of an action thriller, additionally also giving us some actually very shocking twists here and there that you won't see coming. Overall, From Paris With Love sure wasn't enough to reignite Travolta's fading career really, but it sure as hell doesn't deserve to be forgotten.

Standout moment: Charlie Wax (John Travolta) exposing the undercover terrorist during dinner


directed by Kevin Reynolds

During the time of its production, Waterworld was a hugely hyped up movie. With a record breaking budget, Kevin Costner in the lead role and various reports of on-set troubles, Waterworld got all the media attention it could get - both positive and negative. Yet when it got released, it all turned to negative. Labeled a big, overblown Mad Max knockoff, all the media attention and sky high expectations only hampered the truth about Waterworld - that it's actually a very good movie.
Different from Mad Max, of which each movie tends to focus on many different characters at once, Waterworld instead puts mostly Kevin Costner as the Mariner and his relationship with two escapees and their quest for Dryland into the spotlight. The character development in the movie is in many ways much better and way more believably pulled off than in any of the first three Mad Max movies while also boasting several creative action sequences on water.
Waterworld is a prime example of a movie that instantly gets better after letting time and media attention pass and after rewatching it with a clear unbiased opinion.

Standout Moment: The big escape from the atoll 


The Last Boy Scout
directed by Tony Scott

Did you know that there is an unofficial Die Hard sequel that barely anybody talks about? - It's called "The Last Boy Scout".
During a time where it was fairly hard to pitch "yet another buddy cop movie" to Hollywood studios, very talented writer Shane Black wrote this incredibly underrated gem from 1991.
Focussing on a detective and an ex-NBA star trying to stop a mob boss to assassinate the vice president, The Last Boy Scout is a masterclass of respecting genre traditions while also turning them on their head. Bruce Willis is front and center in this movie. He plays detective Joe Hallenback who is pretty much Die Hard's John McClane just with another name. From the washed up look, to the "fuck everything" attitude and topped off with some badass witty one liners all throughout the entire movie, Bruce Willis was perfect for this role. This is only emphasized by the addition of actor Damon Wayans who works flawlessly with Willis' character. Both of them somehow manage to subvert and mock all action genre clichees while at the same time paying tribute to many of them. Complete with an equally great and gripping story that mixes crime thriller elements seemlessly with exhilirating tense moments and action scenes, The Last Boy Scout is Bruce Willis' best action movie to date, aside from Die Hard 1-3.     

Standout Moment: Every single one of Bruce Willis' one liners


Con Air
directed by Simon West

Con Air was actually a pretty big deal when it came out back in 1997. It was heavily advertised, had a big allstar cast involved and was a big summer blockbuster. Yet after almost 20 years, nobody really talks about it anymore while the ones who do talk about it tend to shed only bad light on it.
And this is completely unjustified because as cheesy as the entire set-up, plot, dialogue and characters of Con Air admittedly are, the movie fully embraces its 80s action clichees and absolutely knows how to use them in the best ways possible. With all sorts of various fun villain characters like the crazy terrorist Cyrus the Virus, Diamond Dog, the serial rapist Johnny 23 (because he raped 23 women), the serial killer Garland Greene, etc. all the characters in this movie about a hijacked prison airplane feel like they were ripped straight out of a comic book. On top of that, Nicolas Cage happens to be an actually very great fit for an action protagonist in this movie. Bringing back many memories of him in Michael Bay's The Rock, Con Air itself actually feels like one of Michael Bay's earlier 90s movies (you know? when Bay actually did make some good movies). Con Air sure enough didn't reinvent the action genre in any way but instead simply completely went with its comicy plot and characters and just pulled through with it without getting distracted in any way. Whereas cheesy 90s action movies like The Rock and Face/Off are praised to this day, Con Air is puzzlingly enough rarely mentioned. And that's a shame, because it's one of the flatout best full-on action movies that the 90s offered. 

Standout Moment: "Put...the bunny...back in the box."



Last Action Hero
directed by John McTiernan

Much like Apocalypse Now or other monumental box office flops, Last Action Hero is one of those movies' whose actual background story of how it got made and what troubles it went through during production are just as interesting as the movie itself.
The movie went from a beloved and very promising script in Hollywood, to an even more hyped up production once Arnold Schwarzenegger got involved, to a convoluted rewritten mess of a script by the hands of numerous re-writers, to a misguided action movie without a target audience, all the way to a box office flop that got ill-advisedly released a week after Spielberg's Jurassic Park.
The colossal failure of Last Action Hero not only proved that Schwarzenegger was no longer untouchable in Hollywood, but also to this day serves as a prime example in film classes of how NOT to produce and market a big budget movie.

But is Last Action Hero really that bad? Absolutely not.
Last Action Hero simply suffered from the very same mistakes as the previously mentioned Waterworld - too much media attention, too many involved producers and writers and too much hype. Especially now after so many years have passed, it is easily noticable that to this day there is no action movie that even comes close to being like Last Action Hero. It is just one of a kind.
Whereas it sure enough isn't your typical bloody Schwarzenegger action movie, the movie is still Schwarzenegger's best effort in an action comedy movie. Even despite the many rewrites the script suffered from (to make it marketable to a PG-13 audience), the original movie script's ideas are still fully intact in the final movie. With protagonist boy Danny using his knowledge about action movies and their genre clichees to help out Arnold to take down the glass eyed mob boss Benedict, the many references, meta humor, action scenes and comedy actually dated really well.
Though it would've been nice to see what the actual original bloodier version of Last Action Hero would've looked like (or let alone a documentary about the troubled production of Last Action Hero), the final movie itself is surprisingly very clever with its numerous ideas and well made when ignoring all the fuss about its production and marketing.
It is very creative, action packed, funny, unique and Invisible Kid's pick for the No. 1 most underrated action movie.      

Standout moment: Jack Slater (Schwarzenegger) and Danny walking into a videostore and taking a look at a very strange Terminator 2 poster

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