Silver

10 Best Joel Silver Action Movies, Ranked

Summary

  • Joel Silver’s action movies have left an indelible mark on the genre, shaping trends and delivering guaranteed thrills.
  • Many of the greatest action movies of all time have been produced by Joel Silver, including The Matrix and Lethal Weapon.
  • Silver’s work with top talent like Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger has solidified his legendary status in Hollywood.



Not many movie producers manage to make a name for themselves outside the industry, but Joel Silver has developed a reputation as a legendary action movie producer in a career going back to the 1980s. Joel Silver’s movies have helped shape the action genre in many ways. He has worked with many of the best action stars of all time, including Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and plenty of outstanding action directors too, like Guy Ritchie and Shane Black. His influence on the genre can’t be overstated.

Joel Silver has overseen the creation of some iconic action franchises. From Die Hard to The Matrix his best movies have been guaranteed money-makers which have left both critics and audiences satisfied. His movies have also set many of the biggest trends in the action genre. Lethal Weapon, for example, set the tone for many buddy cop movies to come, but very few have been able to replicate the success of the original. Silver has helped creative talents flourish, and his legacy is nothing short of remarkable.


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10 Road House (1989)

An undeniable cult classic

Director
Rowdy Herrington

Release Date
May 19, 1989

Cast
Patrick swayze , Kelly Lynch , Sam Elliott , Ben Gazzara , Marshall R. Teague , Julie Michaels , Red West , Sunshine Parker

Joel Silver also produced the 2024
Road House
remake starring Jake Gyllenhaal. The remake changes a lot from the original, but it keeps the focus on bone-crunching combat.


Road House is a masterpiece of 1980s schlock cinema, and it has become a guilty pleasure for millions of fans. It may not be the most polished or the most substantial movie, but it dares its audience not to have a good time. Road House stars Patrick Swayze as a bouncer who takes a job at a rowdy bar in Missouri, only to find that the town is under the thumb of a sadistic millionaire who keeps the locals in line with a campaign of intimidation and violence.

Road House delivers cheap thrills, with Patrick Swayze roundhouse kicking a procession of lowlifes to a great bluesy soundtrack. Joel Silver also produced the 2024 Road House remake starring Jake Gyllenhaal. The remake changes a lot from the original, but it keeps the focus on bone-crunching combat. The debate over which is better will ultimately come down to taste, but the 2024 version will be a success if it is remembered as fondly in 35 years’ time as the original is today.


9 RocknRolla (2008)

Guy Ritchie’s return to the gangster genre

Release Date
September 5, 2008

Cast
Gerard Butler , Tom Wilkinson , Idris Elba , Thandiwe Newton

RocknRolla
is in the same vein as
Snatch
and
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
, with a complex plot featuring many idiosyncratic characters, each with their own motivations and ideals.


RocknRolla is a typical Guy Ritchie movie, with an ensemble cast full of unsavory characters all fighting for power in London’s seedy underbelly. It’s in the same vein as Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, with a complex plot featuring many idiosyncratic characters, each with their own motivations and ideals. Ritchie keeps every plate spinning while still delivering some propulsive action scenes and plenty of laughs.

Although it may not be quite as accomplished as his other gangster movies, there’s still a lot of joy to be had in watching London’s gangsters colliding and colluding with one another, especially with such a lively cast. Ritchie resorts to many of his favorite archetypes, but Tom Wilkinson’s portrayal of a gruff mob boss and Toby Kebbell’s role as a rock star off the rails are hard to resist.


8 Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Shane Black’s fun-loving genre mashup

Director
Shane Black

Release Date
November 11, 2005

Cast
Robert Downey Jr. , Val Kilmer , Michelle Monaghan , Corbin Bernsen , Dash Mihok , Larry Miller , Rockmond Dunbar , Shannyn Sossamon

For fans of action, fans of mystery and fans of romcoms,
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
is an all-round crowdpleaser.


Kiss Kiss Bang Bang brings together elements of romance, mystery, comedy and action into a complex plot that deepens at every turn. Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer play a thief and a private investigator who form an unlikely duo as they are tossed into a murder investigation along with a struggling actor, played by Michelle Monaghan. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang weaves its threads together beautifully, creating a satisfyingly tangled web of intrigue.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang‘s dark humor makes it enjoyable even after several rewatches. Although he’s a top-level action star with credits such as Top Gun and Batman Forever to his name, Val Kilmer steps back into a comedic role with ease, and his dynamic with Robert Downey Jr. is key to the success of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. For fans of action, fans of mystery and fans of romcoms, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is an all-round crowdpleaser.


7 The Nice Guys (2016)

One of the best action comedies in recent memory

Director
Shane Black

Release Date
May 20, 2016

Although it flopped at the box office,
The Nice Guys
has grown in popularity over the years thanks to streaming platforms, and there have been persistent calls for a sequel.

The Nice Guys looks back at 1970s private detective stories through a modern lens, and the result is one of the funniest comedies of the last decade. Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe make perfect opposites as two mismatched investigators who reluctantly team up to track down a missing woman. Crowe is a particularly pleasant surprise, since his career hasn’t had that many comedic roles.


Although it flopped at the box office, The Nice Guys has grown in popularity over the years thanks to streaming platforms, and there have been persistent calls for a sequel to The Nice Guys in recent years. The movie certainly seems like it could be the beginning of a fun action-comedy franchise, and the ending seems to set up more adventures for the two detectives. As it is, The Nice Guys is a crowdpleasing standalone movie.

6 Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Guy Ritchie breathes new life into classic characters


Release Date
December 25, 2009

Despite its period appearance,
Sherlock Holmes
is a decidedly contemporary retelling, with more of an emphasis on action than most other adaptations.

Although some recent adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work, like Sherlock and Elementary, bring the world’s most famous detective into the modern day, Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes has plenty of fun in its 19th century setting. Despite its period appearance, Sherlock Holmes is a decidedly contemporary retelling, with more of an emphasis on action than most other adaptations.


Sherlock Holmes pits the detective against a seemingly supernatural adversary. In this way, it mimics The Hound of the Baskervilles, and there are several other allusions to other Doyle stories, but it’s a largely original tale with an original villain. After over a decade of silence, talk about Sherlock Holmes 3 is starting to heat up, with Robert Downey Jr. reportedly keen to revitalize the billion dollar franchise.

5 V For Vendetta (2005)

An action-packed adaptation of Alan Moore’s brilliant comics


Director
James McTeigue

Release Date
March 17, 2006

Cast
John Hurt , Hugo Weaving , Stephen Fry , Stephen Rea , Natalie Portman

V for Vendetta
is a richly layered action thriller with an intelligent political streak.

Based on the comic books by Alan Moore, V for Vendetta is a dystopian thriller about a mysterious freedom fighter who plots to overthrow the fascist government in Britain with the help of a young woman. Moore’s works have had as many misses as hits when being adapted into movies or TV shows, but V for Vendetta is one that delivered on the potential of the comic books, painting a vivid depiction of fascism invading modern life.


V for Vendetta is a warning against government corruption and control, but it’s also packed with great action scenes. Between his highly publicized terrorist attacks, V delivers some insightful quotes about the road to freedom, and he reveals his tragic backstory to his new companion. V for Vendetta is a richly layered action thriller with an intelligent political streak. Although the circumstances may be deliberately extreme, V for Vendetta‘s message about the power of unity is timely.

4 Predator (1987)

A sci-fi franchise starter with a heavy focus on action


Release Date
June 12, 1987

Cast
Arnold Schwarzenegger , Carl Weathers , Elpidia Carrillo , Bill Duke , Jesse Ventura , Shane Black , Sonny Landham , Richard Chaves

With Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers and Jesse Ventura,
Predator
is a shot of 1980s action, complete with cheesy one-liners and wonderful practical effects.

With Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers and Jesse Ventura, Predator is a shot of 1980s action, complete with cheesy one-liners and wonderful practical effects. Predator‘s best quotes infuse a lot of humor into the movie, but this never detracts from the tension of the plot, which follows an elite paramilitary unit being hunted by an alien in the thick rainforests of Central America.


No subsequent movie in the Predator franchise has come close to repeating the quality of the original. Even a crossover with the Alien franchise did little to rekindle the fire of the original. While the mythology of the Yautja has developed, it has been surprisingly difficult to recapture what makes Predator so compelling. In its earliest form, the only thing that’s truly important about the creature is that it’s an unknowable horror, and this simplicity works brilliantly.

3 Lethal Weapon (1987)

One of Joel Silver’s biggest franchises


Release Date
March 6, 1987

Cast
Tom Atkins , Mitchell Ryan , Danny Glover , Mel Gibson , Gary Busey

The mix of sentimental family values and good old-fashioned shoot-outs makes
Lethal Weapon
a hair-raising treat.

Lethal Weapon kicked off one of Joel Silver’s biggest franchises, and it still holds a place as one of the greatest buddy cop movies of all time. Mel Gibson plays the volatile and impatient Riggs, while Danny Glover is his level-headed partner Murtaugh. Together, they must watch each other’s backs as they uncover a narcotics conspiracy in Los Angeles with dangerous gangsters who will stop at nothing to keep the money coming in.


Lethal Weapon is the most successful movie in a hugely successful franchise. It didn’t invent the buddy cop genre, but Lethal Weapon certainly set the standard for countless action movies to follow. The mix of sentimental family values and good old-fashioned shoot-outs makes Lethal Weapon a hair-raising treat. Mel Gibson is set to direct Lethal Weapon 5, which will provide a conclusion to the saga.

2 Die Hard (1988)

An action masterpiece that can enjoyed over and over again


Release Date
July 15, 1988

Cast
Bruce Willis , Bonnie Bedelia , Reginald VelJohnson , Paul Gleason , William Atherton , Hart Bochner

What’s most impressive about
Die Hard
is how it manages to pepper such a simple plot with so many original moments.

Die Hard is one of the most rewatchable action movies of all time. The debate over whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie has been raging on ever since it was first released, but one thing that all fans can agree on is that it can be watched at least once a year, whether that’s during the holiday season or at any other time. Thanks to a star turn from Bruce Willis and a stunning debut from Alan Rickman, Die Hard hasn’t lost any of its shine.


Die Hard has a beautifully simple plot. John McClane is a police officer who finds himself trapped in a tower when it’s taken over by terrorists. He must use his training, his wits and his resilience to save the day and get out alive. What’s most impressive about Die Hard is how it manages to pepper such a simple plot with so many original moments. Famous scenes like John McClane shuffling through broken glass, or his final standoff with Hans Gruber, live long in the memory.

1 The Matrix (1999)

The Wachowskis changed action and sci-fi for the 21st century


Director
Lilly Wachowski , Lana Wachowski

Release Date
March 30, 1999

The Matrix
is able to balance philosophy with action perfectly, so that one never outweighs the other.​​​​​​​

The Matrix marked a rare foray into sci-fi for Joel Silver, but it’s still a thrilling action movie. The Matrix‘s best fight scenes use the movie’s unique sci-fi concept to bend reality and come up with visually stunning sequences. There are elements of wuxia and even superhero movies, but The Matrix‘s cerebral premise never distracts from the focus on martial arts and other pulsating action set pieces.


It’s not easy to communicate such fresh sci-fi ideas as succinctly as The Matrix does. Without the exposition and the exploration of philosophical concepts, none of the action scenes would have any impact. Somehow, The Matrix is able to balance philosophy with action perfectly, so that one never outweighs the other. Both elements are vital to the enduring appeal of the movie, and The Matrix 5 is set to continue the saga 25 years on, showing how popular it remains.


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