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The 25 best action movies to get your adrenaline pumping

5. Aliens (1986)

Action hero: Ellen Ripley

The film: Ridley Scott's atmospheric opener saw Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) trapped on a spaceship with a single Xenomorph, so it made sense for James Cameron's sequel to try and up the ante: an abandoned space colony, a unit of gung-ho marines and an entire hive of acid bleeding bugs.

Most action-packed scene: Confronting the queen in the bowels of the industrial complex, Ripley has a few nice mother-to-mother moments before later strapping into the power loader and fighting her claw to claw.

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4. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) 

Action hero: Indiana Jones 

The film: In his most famous role outside of a galaxy far, far away Harrison Ford plays archaeologist, professor and occult specialist Indiana Jones. This is the first actioner in the series, and none of the sequels come close to capturing the rush of this period adventure that finds Jones tasked with finding the Ark of the Covenant. Nazis want it too, which makes his mission considerably more dangerous.   

Most action-packed scene: Alright, there's a load of great action moments in Raiders, so this is a tough one to single out. The opening sequence when Indy gets the golden idol from the Peruvian jungle has to be it though; that's the first taste of what lay in store. 

Watch Raiders of the Lost Ark now on Amazon Prime Video now

3. True Lies (1994)

Action hero: Harry Tasker 

The film: It somehow takes Helen Tasker (Jamie Lee Curtis) 15 years to realise that her husband (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is not a nerdy computer salesman. With Arnie actually an undercover super-spy embroiled in a nuclear arms smuggling sting, James Cameron takes the Terminator and makes him funny with explosive set-pieces to rival anything cooked up by Skynet.

Most action-packed scene: Piloting a jump-jet through the city streets, Arnie kills two birds with one stone, firing a missile (with Art Malick strapped to it) through a tower block, into a helicopter full of goons. All after a nifty one-liner, of course: You're fired! 

Watch True Lies now on Amazon Prime Video

2. Die Hard (1988)

Action hero: John McClane

The film: New York cop John McClane picks the first of many wrong places and wrong times to visit his wife at work, but for star Bruce Willis and director John McTiernan, the timing couldn't have been better. Putting an ordinary Joe in the middle of a firefight, confining a terrorist takeover to a single, claustrophobic building, and balancing quip-smart dialogue with hard and heavy action set-pieces, Die Hard set the mold and broke it at the same time.

Most action-packed scene: A rooftop bomb. A short fire hose. A plate glass window. The rest is history.

Watch Die Hard now on Amazon Prime Video

1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Action hero: The Terminator

The film: The best summer blockbuster ever made? The best sequel? The best James Cameron movie? Possibly all of the above, T2 takes the groundwork laid by the 1984 original and expands it into one of the most solidly entertaining, technologically ground-breaking event movies ever made. Arnold Schwarzenegger returns as the time-travelling cyborg, this time switching sides to protect Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and her son John (Edward Furlong).

Most action-packed scene: Each set-piece in T2 builds up to the next, meaning the grand finale is exactly that. With Arnie battered and bruised from a truck chase, the T-1000 (Robert Patrick) reformed out of a liquid nitrogen puddle, and Sarah struggling her way through a raging steel mill, the thrilling, relentless final showdown is awe-inspiring no matter how many times you watch it.

Watch Terminator 2: Judgment Day now on Amazon Prime Video

Gem is GR+'s west coast entertainment news reporter. She’s a bit obsessed with all things Aliens and Terminator.