Action movies that get more hate than they deserve are proof of the overwhelming power that film reviews can have over the industry. At the end of the day, popular audience sentiment often gets the last say, but even that is inevitably influenced by what critics think of certain films. The action genre is definitely no stranger to the negative effects of hateful criticism, and this has robbed audiences of seeing some of the best action set pieces of all time.
Throughout the genre’s history – from the most misunderstood movies to blockbusters that failed to live up to the hype – there’s no shortage of action movies that get more hate than they deserve. Apart from undermining the work of the respective film crews and actors that made these films, this has resulted in many of the greatest car chases, gun fights, and martial arts scenes being largely unseen and hidden in hated movies. Critical reviews has certainly done its part in ruining the reputations of actually awesome action films. However, for viewers who believe in second chances, here are 10 action films that get more hate than they deserve.
10 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
There’s truth to the opinion that the Indiana Jones movies started going downhill with the fourth movie. At the same time, however, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is still a pretty fun and solid action film. The hated scene where Harrison Ford’s Indie survives a nuclear blast inside a lead-lined refrigerator is actually at par with the signature silliness of the franchise. Despite his age, Ford delivers believable performances in impressive and hilarious stunts that pay tribute to the original trilogy. Considering how Indie previously survived encounters with magical objects like the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull‘s alien twist isn’t that far-fetched.
9 Wild Wild West (1999)
Few action movies that get more hate than they deserve are as misunderstood as Wild Wild West. The movie is certainly a product of its time, as evidenced by its many offensive jokes. Yet, it is this asinine approach that pushes the movie’s overwhelming campiness into so-bad-it’s-good territory. Despite Will Smith denouncing Wild Wild West as his worst movie, Smith delivers a charming performance, which serves as the perfect foil to Kevil Kline’s dry witticisms. Wild Wild West‘s combination of steampunk, Western, and even blaxploitation themes resulted in a convoluted plot – but also some of the most interesting characters and action set pieces from the ’90s.
8 Alien Vs. Predator (2004)
The first installment in the crossover franchise, Alien vs. Predator is lambasted by critics and audiences alike for its sheer amount of action movie clichés. This may be true, but from the impossibly badass Lex Woods to the titular monster fight, these clichés are executed to perfection. Indeed, Alien vs. Predator has a rightful place among action movies that get more hate than they deserve. Despite its faults, Alien vs. Predator’s Antarctic Aztec pyramid provides the perfect suspenseful setting that pays tribute to the original Alien. Combined with the Xenomorph Queen and the inside look into Xenomorph biology and Yautja culture, there’s a lot to love about this movie.
7 Iron Man 3 (2013)
One of the lowest-ranked MCU movies featuring Tony Stark, Iron Man 3 essentially failed to deliver audience and critical expectations of what the final movie in a superhero trilogy is supposed to be. The ending twist exposing Ben Kingsley’s fake Mandarin was also met with disappointment upon the film’s release. Today, these very factors are celebrated for making Iron Man 3 a truly unique entry in the MCU’s roster. Combined with Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark accurately and compellingly depicting the effects of PTSD, Iron Man 3 remains a solid action flick that actually makes sense for Stark’s character arc, and it definitely doesn’t deserve the hate it gets.
6 John Carter (2012)
A standard example among action movies that get more hate than they deserve, John Carter still suffers from its cryptic pre-release marketing, which presented it as just another multi-genre action blockbuster with very little context. In reality, John Carter fully delivers on its extremely ambitious promise: being a faithful movie adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ early 20th-century sci-fi fantasy novel Princess of Mars, a foundational work that inspired Star Wars, Dune, Avatar, and dozens of other movies and franchises. The result is an immersive modern deep dive into the roots of today’s most popular film genres. Sadly, first impressions last, and John Carter‘s franchise potential was dead upon arrival.
5 Last Action Hero (1993)
Last Action Hero is a very strange film even when compared to most other action movies that get more hate than they deserve. From Jack Slater’s hilarious one-liners and impossibly glorious action scenes to Last Action Hero‘s inimitable premise, the movie remains a brilliant parody of every prominent action movie trope from the ’80s and early ’90s. While the execution of the premise is debatable, what’s certain is that no other action film has come close to the ambitious originality of John McTiernan and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s self-aware fourth-wall-breaking antics. Last Action Hero was a critical and commercial failure in the ’90s but is regarded as a cult classic today.
4 Hudson Hawk (1991)
Before McTiernan and Schwarzenegger satirized themselves in Last Action Hero, Michael Lehmann made fun of Bruce Willis’ action movies in Hudson Hawk. While even Hudson Hawk‘s cult following criticizes its lack of cohesiveness, the movie’s unapologetic multi-genre chaos is what makes it wildly entertaining. The comedy is mostly so-bad-it’s-good, but the script gets witty in the most unexpected parts. Most importantly, Hudson Hawk remains one of the best films by Bruce Willis in terms of sheer action, which is where the movie truly shines. Even as a misguided attempt at copying Pink Panther, Hudson Hawk is a strong comedy-action movie that definitely gets more hate than it deserves.
3 Shoot ‘Em Up (2007)
After Clive Owen delivers a baby during a gunfight, he shoots off the umbilical cord, and then safely carries the baby as he guns down dozens more people. These are just some of the less ridiculous scenes in Shoot ‘Em Up, a John Woo-inspired gun-fu masterpiece. Much like other action movies that get more hate than they deserve, Shoot ‘Em Up‘s forgettable plot only makes way for its awesome action set pieces – and the archetypal zany characters portrayed by its A-list cast, which includes Paul Giamatti and Monica Bellucci. For viewers who think the Fast and Furious movies are too tame, Shoot ‘Em Up is a must-see.
2 Ninja Assassin (2009)
Most action movies that get more hate than they deserve can be described as over-the-top, but it would be an understatement to say that Ninja Assassin is an absolute bloodbath. Ninja Assassin has been lambasted by critics and audiences alike for its promising but ultimately thin plot. Yet, Ninja Assassin also undoubtedly delivers exactly as advertised: slick, intense, and bloody fights between highly trained ninjas. Even Ninja Assassin’s haters concede to the fact that it has some of the best martial arts sequences in contemporary action cinema. Moreover, despite criticisms regarding its plot, the protagonist Raizo actually has an interesting backstory, and the movie’s supernatural world has serious franchise potential.
1 The Rundown (2003)
Largely known as one of The Rock’s biggest box office bombs, The Rundown is an action-driven buddy comedy starring Dwayne Johnson and Seann William Scott. The criticisms about The Rundown having a predictable plot and action beats are accurate. However, The Rundown never pretended to be more than what it is: a fun action romp hinged on the chemistry between Johnson and Scott’s father-son bounty/treasure hunters. The Rundown‘s story isn’t groundbreaking, but its simplicity complements the impressive action, witty script, and surprisingly restrained lead performances. It’s become popular to hate on The Rundown, but it’s actually a well-rounded action flick.