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The Best Action Movies of 2008

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Best Action Movies of 2008Action movies. Below are the best action movies of 2008, based on a combination of overall quality, intensity of the action and overall entertainment value. Action-comedies such as Tropic Thunder didn’t quite make the list, though Pineapple Express almost made it. Without further ado, here are the best action movies of 2008:

  1. The Dark Knight
    This is a gimme. Even though it isn’t a straightforward action film, The Dark Knight is intense from beginning to end. It rarely lets up, and there are some amazingly memorable action sequences, most notably the car/truck chase scene that results in Batman flipping a semi on its top. I don’t think I need to explain myself further.
  2. Iron Man
    Before there was The Dark Knight, there was Iron Man. The film reigned the box office and critical arena for two months before DC finally upended Marvel, but that shouldn’t diminish the surprisingly high quality of the Jon Favreau film. Despite great previews and a lot of buzz, I was skeptical as to whether a director who had never handled a large budget could make a movie about a tin man work, but my skepticism vanished quickly. Strangely, the movie doesn’t have as much as action as one would expect (I so wish that Afghanistan attack would have gone on for longer), but it still has the perfect bland of thrills, laughs and visual effects. Of course, it took Robert Downey Jr. to take the character to the next level.
  3. Cloverfield
    Some people will disagree with me on this. Some hated this movie (for reasons I’m still trying to figure out), but Cloverfield, the highly anticipated spring blockbuster of 2008, was more than I could have asked for. While it starts off slow, the movie soon shifts into action and destruction mode – and it doesn’t let up until the closing credits. Some have pointed out that the shaky camera is a gimmick or downright lame, or that the characters are shallow, but what really gets me are the people that complain that the creature’s back story is not explained – nor is the creature often shown in its full glory. This is the exact reason why I believe Cloverfield worked so well: it is a snapshot of normal people as they try to escape a creature that just showed up one day. It isn’t their place to discover its origins or follow the monster around to snap a good picture; they are trying to escape, and that’s that.
  4. Rambo
    Whatever you think of Sylvestor Stallone, the new Rambo was a Godsend to the action movies at all. This one also starts off rather slow, with a lot of silent Sly dwelling on his past, but once the action kicks in, it gets downright nasty. The movie is super gritty and doesn’t show away from any gore, and depicts warfare as a downright bloody mess. Hundreds of people die in the movie, many of those in the last few minutes as Rambo tears them to shreds – literally – with a rail gun. I actually thought it was a pretty damn good movie, but at the very least, it is mindless entertainment.
  5. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
    I sure as hell didn’t think I was going to be putting the PG-rated sequel to the so-so The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on this list, but sure enough, here it is. The movie always stops just short of showing much blood, but it pushes that PG-rating to its limit. The movie is surprisingly violent and darker than its predecessor, and director Adam Adamson seems to have improved upon it as well. Prince Caspian is tighter and fast paced, and also offers a few very good action sequences, most notably the invasion of the castle and the massive battle at the end. If you’re into action movies, you may have overlooked this one – so head to the rental store now.
  6. Doomsday
    Another movie I would never have expected to end up on this list, Doomsday is a surprisingly entertaining action movie. Even though the picture blatantly rips off such classics as Mad Max, Gladiator, Braveheart, Escape From New York, 28 Days Later and yes, even Aliens, it is this absurd amalgation that works in the picture’s favor. The movie is absolutely ridiculous and switches genres and setting every few minutes (literally, there is a whole sequence that seems like it’s pulled right out of First Knight), yet this makes it all the more fun. Put your brain on standby and enjoy.
  7. Wanted
    The hit Angelina Jolie action movie would have ranked higher – but it was just a tad overrated. The movie is entertaining, at times hilarious and also full of action, but it didn’t always click on all cylinders. Still, Wanted is a blast and belongs in any action fan’s arsenal of DVDs or Blu-Rays. Even though Jolie looks good in just about every movie she’s in, she looks especially hot here.
  8. The Incredible Hulk
    Not exactly an action movie I’d watch over and over again, The Incredible Hulk is a step up from its predecessor and features some pretty solid action sequences. The chase through Brazil is top notch, as is a Hulk vs. the military sequence partway through. The movie isn’t as smart as it thinks it is, but this is about as good as you’re going to get for a giant green character that basically does nothing but grunt and smash things.
  9. Eagle Eye
    Unlike Doomsday, Eagle Eye suffers from its over-the-top nature. This non-stop thrill ride does keep you engaged and entertained, but once the big twist is revealed, it loses some of its edge. The many plot holes practically beg for you to take it with a grain-of-salt, but it sure seems like the filmmakers took this one more seriously than audiences did. Nevertheless, Eagle Eye is a fun, action-packed movie with lots of suspense and special effects.
  10. Hellboy II: The Golden Army
    The sequel to Hellboy was highly anticipated, but a little disappointing. It’s not that the movie isn’t well done or lacks action; it’s just that it feels like director Guillermo Del Toro got a little carried away with things. Following his awesome Pan’s Labyrinth, Del Toro decided to take all of the monster rejects from that movie and drop them in this sequel. There’s just something that feels a bit off about the picture, as if it isn’t a faithful follow-up to the original. Then again, it’s still entertaining and exciting, so I can’t fault it too much.

Notable Loser: Body of Lies

Just missing the top ten is the Ridley Scott-directed Body of Lies, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a CIA agent operating in the Middle East. Critics bashed the film and audiences ignored it, which means that most of you reading this article probably haven’t seen it. The movie is surprisingly captivating, and is better than some of the movies listed above. Nevertheless, it doesn’t have the amount of major action sequences to warrant placement on a “Best Action Movies” list – but I wanted to make note of it anyway.

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: Top 10 Movie Lists
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AROUND THE WEB

  • kabir

    i agree about “body of lies”.
    i enjoyed the movie and i found it really captivating and much better that some of the movies listed above. ridley scott. though not giving a masterpiece, has given a action movie for the thinking man…

  • Josh

    Great reviews, very helpful.

  • http://www.apnaysms.com waqas tasneem

    awesome

  • helen siroselep

    Who says body of lies is a loser?not really…i like it much…

  • http://none LEIF

    Who writes this _____, these are the best action movies of 08? R U F ING KIDDING?

  • http://www.filmjabber.com Erik Samdahl

    And what would you propose, LEIF?

  • kumar

    where the hancoak $ indiyana jones

  • http://www.filmjabber.com Erik Samdahl

    Hi Kumar, because Hancock was more of a comedy than an action film and Indiana Jones was one of the biggest disappointments of the 21st century.

  • amit kumar

    RAMBO 4 n WANTED are the best movies of 2008,TAKEN is also a good movie,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  • john

    are u guys on crack??

  • Tanveer

    In my opinion Death Race should be on the list

  • http://www.filmjabber.com Erik Samdahl

    Thanks for your opinion, Tanveer. Death Race really didn’t do it for me… fun enough, but nothing particularly original or memorable.

  • Jaden

    I would have love to seen “Quantum of Solace” on the list!Though not action packed or innovative in approach, it had an elusive style of handling that most of the action movies lack these days.

  • http://www.filmjabber.com Erik Samdahl

    Jaden, Quantum of Solace did not do it for me. I liked it more the second time, but it was just so disappointing compared to Casino Royale. The director was just not made for action.

  • Ricardo El Barto

    I’ve got to agree with LEIF here. Lets face it, this list is terrible. This is a disgrace to the decent movies that were released in 2008. I think Erik just likes childrens movies and those that are targetted for a young audience, comic book heroes and shallow, boring story lines ‘do it for him’ but anything remotely intruiging does not. This is not an ‘action’ top 10 at all but Erik’s personal top 10 of 2008 with a brain of a 13 year old. The list is suppose to be the best action movies of 2008, based on a combination of overall quality, intensity of the action and overall entertainment value, like it says! An excuse of “that film just doesnt do it for me” is pathetic. A list of personal opinion and a terrible one at that…!

  • http://www.filmjabber.com Erik Samdahl

    Hi Ricardo,

    That’s fine if you disagree, but if you’re going to bash my list, present your own. “A list of personal opinion” – every movie list in the world is a list of opinions, btw.

  • s

    OMFG, you gotta be kidding me? This is the worst list ever made!

  • http://www.filmjabber.com Erik Samdahl

    @s, and what would be your list? If you’re going to bash, present something better.

  • Lance Hardwood

    some of the movies you guys mentioned were not that memorable or really huge dissappointment (namely Indiana jones) this was a good list. i just saw body of lies and was surprised of how little attention it gained. Death race…unoriginal and not worth collecting

  • rishi

    i liked body of lies very much

  • Raj

    where is indiana jones erik?…….superb action flick in a stylish way of indiana.It must be on the list.
    remainig all are good .
    cloverfield is good one but i dont consider it as a movie,just snapshots may be you can take it out

  • Bryan Mills

    I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you were looking to please, I can tell you that it didn’t work. But what you did do was annoy me greatly, annoyed me so much for even mentioning Chronicles of Narnia. Annoyed me so greatly that I could make this websites life absolute hell. If you’d included Taken on your list, then that would have been the end of it. I wouldn’t have commented, I would have read another article. But you didn’t, so I will find you. And I will kill you.

  • http://www.filmjabber.com Erik Samdahl

    @Bryan – I love the comment, even if I am a bit frightened. Of course, Taken was released in 2009 and was named my #1 action movie of that year – http://blog.filmjabber.com/2010/01/12/the-best-action-movies-of-2009/

    @Raj – Indiana Jones 4… can’t say I loved that movie. Aliens? Swinging on vines? Saving yourself from a nuclear bomb by hiding in a fridge?

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