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The Definitive Ranking of Every Arnold Schwarzenegger Action Movie

The Definitive Ranking of Every Arnold Schwarzenegger Action Movie:

There will never be another generation of action stars like there were in the ’80s. The plots were simple and the body counts were high. On top of that list is the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger. He defined over the top action and continues to put them out today. Before we jump into the rankings, let’s cover the ones not included on the list. His part is so small in the first Expendables, he isn’t even credited, so obviously that one isn’t included. He walked by The Rock in The Rundown so it wouldn’t make much sense to include it either, even though it’s pretty great. The only movies that he’s been featured in that aren’t action movies are Dave, Junior, and Around the World in 80 Days and I think we all know those aren’t exactly the essence of Arnold anyway.

So, as Arnold’s return to Terminator lights up the Fourth of July weekend, let’s run it down, shall we?

26. BATMAN & ROBIN
Character: Mr. Freeze
Year Released: 1997
Why It’s Awesome: It’s not. At all. Batman & Robin is an abomination where the batsuit had nipples so I’m not even going to waste time talking about it.


25. CONAN THE DESTROYER
Character: Conan
Year Released: 1984
Why It’s Awesome: After Conan the Barbarian, it was clear a sequel was in order. Unfortunately it was nowhere near as awesome. For some reason it feels more like something that should be on TGIF than a legit action film. We’ll forgive you for this one, young Arnold.

25.conan-the-destroyer-grace-jones-zula-arnold-schwarzenegger

24. RED SONJA
Character: Kalidor
Year Released: 1985
Why It’s Awesome: The problem is that it’s just bad enough to not be enjoyable and isn’t tongue in cheek enough to be fun. Arnold himself said it was the worst movie he’s ever made. He wasn’t that far off.

24.Red Sonja-german poster

23. JINGLE ALL THE WAY
Character: Howard Langston
Year Released: 1996
Why It’s Awesome: I suppose we can squeeze it under the category of action since there’s a few chase scenes with Sinbad, but no movie across his career is as ridiculous as Jingle All the Way. It’s beyond silly and was made completely invalid with the creation of eBay.

23.jingle-all-the-way-original

22. RAW DEAL
Character: Mark Kaminsky
Year Released: 1986
Why It’s Awesome: Imagine Commando without all the great lines. That pretty much sums up Raw Deal. Out of all the movies Arnold has done, it’s definitely the most forgettable.


21. TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES
Character: The T-800
Year Released: 2003
Why It’s Awesome: I’m down with having a female terminator, but it’s unfortunate the concept was executed so poorly. Arnold does the best with the little amount of screen time he’s given, but it’s not enough to salvage the worst Terminator film to date.

21.terminator-3 Arnold Street1

20. ESCAPE PLAN
Character: Rottmayer
Year Released: 2013
Why It’s Awesome: After The Last Stand we had high hopes for Arnold’s return to the big screen. Then when we found out Arnold would be co-starring alongside Stallone, the expectations were through the roof. Unfortunately Escape Plan came nowhere near those hopes and dreams. It’s not bad, but it’s not anything you’d want to watch more than once.

20. Escape-Plan-Arnold-Schwarzenegger-Sylvester-Stallone1

19. THE EXPENDABLES 3
Character: Trench
Year Released: 2014
Why It’s Awesome: Arnold gets involved much more than the previous two installments, but it just feels like everyone is going through the motions at this point. You’d think the group of guys they pulled out of oblivion would capitalize on every moment they have onscreen, but it doesn’t happen. Here’s hoping the next dozen Expendables films are better.

19. arnold-schwarzenegger-expendables-3

18. KINDERGARTEN COP
Character: John Kimble
Year Released: 1990
Why It’s Awesome: Kindergarten Cop was a fantastic way to disguise an action movie as a kid’s movie. There was just enough comic relief to make it enjoyable to the mass market, but at its core it’s still a good old-fashioned shoot ‘em up. Plus the kid from Pet Sematary defined his career by defining the human anatomy.


17. SABOTAGE
Character: John Wharton
Year Released: 2014
Why It’s Awesome: The cast in this movie is unbelievably good and yet it’s completely ruined by a subpar script that just doesn’t seem to go anywhere. It takes itself too seriously to be fun, and doesn’t have enough passion or drama to be engaging. It’s not the worst, but it may be the most disappointing.

17. Sabotage-Arnold-Schwarzenegger

16. THE EXPENDABLES 2
Character: Trench
Year Released: 2012
Why It’s Awesome: Out of the three Expendables movies, this one has the best cast and finally puts a gun in Arnold’s hands. His part isn’t significant, but it was just exciting to see him out of the office and back to shooting bad guys.


15. RED HEAT
Character: Ivan Danko
Year Released: 1988
Why It’s Awesome: This movie would easily be in the Top Ten if it weren’t for Jim Beluishi, who nearly ruins the movie. Arnold’s attempt at a Russian accent is reason enough in itself to watch Red Heat. It’s definitely more fun than you’d imagine.


14. COLLATERAL DAMAGE
Character: Gordy Brewer
Year Released: 2002
Why It’s Awesome: Out of all the movies over Arnold’s career, this one seems like the oddest choice for him. It’s subtle and nowhere near as over the top as his other films, but it still works. It’ll be interesting to see if he goes back to this style in the twilight of his career.

14.collateral-damage

13. END OF DAYS
Character: Jericho Cane
Year Released: 1999
Why It’s Awesome: The special effects are painfully bad and it lost more money than a Ponzi scheme, but for a pseudo-horror movie from the ’90s, it’s not that bad. Trust me, it’s definitely more enjoyable to watch now than most of the other ’90s horror movies.


12. THE 6TH DAY
Character: Adam Gibson
Year Released: 2000
Why It’s Awesome: You know Arnold had always wanted to play two characters in a movie and he jumped at the chance to clone himself onscreen. It’s definitely one of those movies you’ll want to watch if you’re home from work for the day with the flu.

12.the-6th-day

11. ERASER
Character: John Kruger
Year Released: 1996
Why It’s Awesome: I wish Arnold had done a dozen other movies like Eraser. It’s straight-forward and basically just Arnold shooting a bunch of bad guys with futuristic weapons. The script could have just been one page that said, “shoot stuff” and it still would’ve been fun.

11.eraser-poster

10. THE LAST STAND
Character: Ray Owens
Year Released: 2013
Why It’s Awesome: It was a nervous time to be an Arnold fan after so many years ruining California. The last thing we wanted to see was a parody or shell of his former self. Not only was The Last Stand none of those things, it was one of his most enjoyable films to date. He proved that he’s still got it and could still be one of the most marketable names in Hollywood.

10. the last stand

9. CONAN THE BARBARIAN
Character: Conan
Year Released: 1982
Why It’s Awesome: This was the one that started it all. Arnold was gigantic and insanely intimidating. If a sword grew muscles and could walk around swinging itself, it would be the equivalent of his version of Conan.


8. LAST ACTION HERO
Character: Jack Slater
Year Released: 1993
Why It’s Awesome: I will never understand the amount of hate surrounding Last Action Hero. Sure, it goes on a bit too long, but it’s incredibly original and a lot more fun than anyone gives it credit for. If there’s any Arnold movie that deserves a second chance, it’s this one.

08.last-action-hero-original

7. COMMANDO
Character: John Matrix
Year Released: 1985
Why It’s Awesome: Where do you even begin with Commando? It has the best one-liners of any Arnold movie, plus it’s the only one where he feeds a deer with Alyssa Milano. Was anyone else troubled by how many times they kissed on the lips?


6. TRUE LIES
Character: Harry Tasker
Year Released: 1994
Why It’s Awesome: There is no movie that I would love to see a sequel to more than True Lies. It doesn’t reinvent the action movie, but it has more fun with the genre conventions than any movie in Arnold’s career. It’s one of those that you can watch for the first time today and still enjoy. That’s saying something.

06.true-lies

5. THE RUNNING MAN
Character: Ben Richards
Year Released: 1987
Why It’s Awesome: I love that The Running Man was supposed to be this ultra-futuristic game show and yet the prizes they gave out to audience members were board games. Ah, the ’80s, what a beautiful, simple time.

05.the-running-man

4. THE TERMINATOR
Character: The T-800
Year Released: 1984
Why It’s Awesome: There’s a reason why “I’ll be back” has become not only his catch phrase but a permanent fixture in pop culture. Arnold takes on the role of a villain and pulls it off brilliantly. In the process, he becomes one of the greatest movie monsters of all time.


3. TOTAL RECALL
Character: Douglas Quaid
Year Released: 1990
Why It’s Awesome: Director Paul Verhoeven managed to make an action-movie satire starring the biggest action star in the world. The special effects are amazing for the time, plus how can you argue with a prostitute that is constantly showing off her third boob?

03.total-recall

2. TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY
Character: The T-800
Year Released: 1991
Why It’s Awesome: For a movie that’s nearly 25 years old, the special effects rival anything that’s currently in theaters. Say what you will about James Cameron, but he pushes the technological boundaries like no other filmmaker.

02.terminator2

1. PREDATOR
Character: Dutch
Year Released: 1987
Why It’s Awesome: You could make an argument for several movies to have the top spot, but this is, by far, the best ensemble cast Arnold has worked with in any film. Every character could have easily been the leading man and don’t even get me started on the Carl Weathers handshake heard round the world.

By the way, if you’d like to know precisely how many people Arnold’s characters are responsible for sending to the hereafter, here’s a handy guide:

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