10 Movies That Prove The 90's Were The Golden Age Of Action

Time to put on those rose-tinted glasses.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator 2
TriStar Pictures

It's almost become a cliche at this point, but do you remember the 90's? Rose-tinted glasses are all the rage these days, but the decade was unquestionably the best ever for action cinema.

The 1980's had marked a significant turning point for the genre. Previously dominated by the hewn-from-granite likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, by the end of the decade audiences had begun to tire of these musclebound one-man armies blasting their way through countless faceless henchmen.

Seeking a more relatable kind of hero, by the late 80's movies like Lethal Weapon and Die Hard had signaled a clear paradigm shift. The protagonists of action movies now looked like regular people, they were fully-formed characters, they were way out of their depth and they could be hurt.

With a new set of circumstances tearing up the rulebook on the genre, the following decade ran with the notion and provided dozens upon dozens of action classics for audiences to sink their teeth into.

It marked the sweet spot between the one-dimensional Rambo-types and the onslaught of CGI-laden extravaganzas that were about to dominate the marketplace, and still remains the Golden Age of action cinema to this day.

10. Total Recall

Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator 2
TriStar Pictures

In recent years movies like Gravity, Interstellar and The Martian have shown that big-budget sci-fi movies can be mature, complex and thought-proving. Two decades previously, Paul Verhoeven's Total Recall showed that they could also be totally batsh*t insane.

Living up to its tag as one of the most expensive productions in history at the time, Total Recall's cutting-edge visual effects even earned a Special Achievement Academy Award. That's not to say that the movie was all style over substance, because Verhoeven made sure to include the subversive and satirical elements typical of his work along with plenty of blockbuster action.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's natural screen presence and charisma have rarely been utilized to better effect than they were here, the giant Austrian showing surprising vulnerability as a man trying to figure out what was real and what wasn't.

Over-the-top and excessive it may be, but the frantically-paced and massively entertaining Total Recall always keeps its tongue planted firmly in-cheek. It speaks volumes about how the project captured sci-fi lightning in a bottle that Len Wiseman's cack-handed remake cost twice as much to produce, made less money at the box office and wasn't even half as good.


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