Five Great Action Movies You Should See Before ‘Mission: Impossible — Fallout’

As Tom Cruise's latest earns big praise from critics, it may soon stand shoulder to shoulder with other classic flicks

Critics are praising the newest installment in the “Mission Impossible” movie series as one of the best action movies ever made. It has a positive rating of 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and reviews have been more than enthusiastic.

“The best action movie in years,” said the headline from the San Francisco Gate’s review.

“One of the best action movies ever made,” said another from the Waco Tribune-Herald.

The Detroit News called it “pure bliss.”

The success of “Mission: Impossible — Fallout,” which hit theaters today, has been a bit of a surprise considering it’s the sixth installment in its franchise, one impressively headed by a now 56-year-old Tom Cruise.

While lazy storytelling, shaky cam action, and cartoony digital effects have swallowed up much of the action genre, there still have been pieces of action cinema that help define their years or even decades from artists willing to push the possibilities on the big screen. “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” may end up being one of those definitive films.

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Here is a look at the five other flawless action movies that have influenced the entire genre. Watch these before you see a frame of Tom Cruise’s latest flick.

1.) “Die Hard” (1988). This is arguably the most ripped off and homaged action movie ever. “Die Hard on a…” became the beginning to a widely used joking headline to describe movies that essentially took the plot of “Die Hard” and stuck it in a different locale.

There was “Speed,” or as “DH” fans like to call it, “‘Die Hard’ on a bus.”

“Under Siege” is “‘Die Hard’ on a boat.”

“White House Down” is “‘Die Hard’ in the … well, the White House.”

Even this year’s film “Skyscraper” was essentially a love letter to “Die Hard.” A poster released for the film featured Dwayne Johnson giving a total salute to “Die Hard” star Bruce Willis.

Why is “Die Hard” one of the greatest action movies of all time? The biggest winning factor is Bruce Willis, who creates a highly relatable fictional action hero. He’s the hero because there’s simply no one else around.

Watching muscle-bound action heroes defy reality and regular human emotion in action films can quickly grow tiring, so it’s refreshing that “Die Hard” offers the simple pleasures of a hero running in circles wondering what he’s going to do, improvising after plans go wrong, and generally giving a bad attitude to anyone who tells him what to do.

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2.) “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015). This is only three years old, but many film fans already consider it to be an action movie classic. The practical effects shown in the film are downright jaw-dropping; director George Miller created one of the most vibrant and beautiful films in years.

It should come as no surprise that the lead actors have discussed what a difficult shoot the film was, considering how much was practical and needed to be physically caught on camera.

The story is simple — allowing the audience more time with the characters.

A mysterious man named Max (Tom Hardy, previously played by Mel Gibson) wanders across an apocalyptic future desert landscape until he’s kidnapped and taken to a cult-like citadel — where he teams with a woman named Furiosa (Charlize Theron) to fight for his freedom. It’s a one-of-a-kind adventure unlikely to be topped by any action movie for a long, long time.

The film was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It won six of those awards.

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3.) “John Wick” (2014). When home intruders kill a man’s dog (a gift from his late wife), he will take any steps necessary to make sure justice is served. What makes his revenge wildly entertaining is that he’s a former assassin — considered by man the best at what he does.

Directed by two former stuntmen, “John Wick” turns its gun play and fight scenes into poetry. The series is famous for fight scenes that include almost no cuts — giving Keanu Reeves enough room to show off his impressive training for the role of Wick.

An even more successful sequel followed, but no sequel will likely ever match up to the innovative and cutthroat work displayed in the first film.

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4.) “The Rock” (1996). This set the stage for the career of action film maestro Michael Bay (“Armageddon,” “Transformers”), a man both adored and loathed for his love of big explosions and the American flag.

“The Rock” found the perfect oddball match in Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery, its two leads.

Cage stars as a chemist tasked with stopping a group of soldiers-turned-terrorists — who have taken over the former prison Alcatraz and the tourists visiting it. The men threaten to shoot off chemical weapons unless a handful of forgotten soldiers are given properly military burials — and they’re paid for their time, of course.

Cage is teamed up with Sean Connery, a former prisoner of Alcatraz and the only man known to have escaped.

Everything in “The Rock” is shot in epic fashion. Bay goes for broke here and proves himself as a filmmaker.

The movie has no real bad guys — and that makes things even more interesting, as actor Ed Harris creates a former military general whose motives and intentions truly can’t be questioned without some blame landing on the people who are supposed to be good guys.

“The Rock” is one of the best action movies ever and still to this day is Bay’s greatest contribution to cinema.

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5.) “Point Break” (1991). This is ridiculous in all the right ways. Keanu Reeves stars as a young FBI agent who figures out that a group of bank robbers may be a collection of beach bums who love adrenaline-pushing sports, including surfing.

Reeves works hard to infiltrate the group and eventually befriends their leader, played by the late Patrick Swayze. (The entire plot of “Point Break” was essentially retold in “The Fast and Furious.”)

It contains one of the best chase scenes put to film. The action is incredibly filmed by Kathryn Bigelow, who went on to direct such acclaimed works as “Zero Dark Thirty” and “The Hurt Locker.” Perhaps the fact that Bigelow is the one telling a story brimming with ridiculous machismo is what keeps things grounded. Her female perspective allows for something unique to blossom on the screen from the actors and their relationships — making the action that much more pulse-pounding.

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