Ageing isn’t something that’s restricted to living creatures, because films also see diminishing returns in quality as time sets in. The action genre has evolved, now accommodating other elements like drama and comedy, but it has a quality that enables films in the genre to have longer lives than other movies.
The 1980s and 1990s were filled to the brim with action movies, which was a time when special effects enabled film-makers to push the bar. Still, that doesn’t mean all the ‘90s films remain instantly watchable today. Here are 5 films that we feel have the replay value to continue to appeal to old and new fans, along with 5 films that don’t hold up for various reasons.
10 Didn't Age Well: The Fifth Element
With all that flashy garb and those over-the-top antics, The Fifth Element is seen as too much to digest for viewers who watch the film for the first time in the 2010s. The story itself is extremely out there – the protagonist being a taxicab driver who is thrust into fighting a cosmic entity.
Its special effects don’t hold up, but that’s not really an issue since it’s natural for films over two decades old to not keep up with today’s effects. The presentation itself just doesn’t resonate with younger film fans today, and all the cheesy jokes don't really help either.
9 Got Better: Speed
Speed made gimmick movies cool again after Die Hard had done that previously. It was a unique concept that has stood the test of time and never felt outdated. A simple setting is key for this movie to stand out decades later, further buoyed by the fact that its stars are still A-list actors.
A fast-paced action film is a normal thing today, but the way Speed has us on the edge of the seats for all of its runtime is something only a movie of its caliber can boast. To this day, people get slightly uneasy whenever a bus starts speeding up all of a sudden.
8 Didn't Age Well: Con Air
Even at the time the film was released, Con Air was extremely hammy. Nowadays, you might argue it has aged well, but that’s mainly because people want to see Nic Cage be all over the place with his southern accent rather than the action in the movie itself.
A bizarre premise of a bunch of criminals on a flight was never going to be one for the ages, and Con Air feels very much like a ‘90s movie that dabbles with the limits of the genre. It’s not a bad movie, but it certainly isn’t considered classic enough to be on our watch lists so long later.
7 Got Better: The Matrix
Maybe we’ve stopped wearing sunglasses during night-time as the years have gone by, but our love for The Matrix has remained the same twenty years later. The film was revolutionary in the genre for blending special effects with crisp martial arts-fueled action; a style that no action film since has really been able to offer.
The first film can also be seen as a stand-alone feature for those who aren’t fans of the sequels, and the technology present in the film is such that you won’t feel like you’re watching an old film. Kids watching the film still try to bend the way Neo does when evading bullets; a legacy passed down from one generation to another.
6 Didn't Age Well: Predator 2
After the action-packed Predator in the ‘80s took everyone by surprise and solidified Arnold Schwarzenegger as an ever-bankable action star, its sequel arrived to leave people feeling rather disappointed. Back when it was released, Predator 2 wasn’t so bad, as it had the subtlety in tone that was normal for a film in the ‘90s.
However, the Predator series has returned to the original’s roots in recent decades, and Predator 2 just feels like a sideways experiment made by the series. It's too slow in pace and lacking in setpieces to feel like part of the franchise.
5 Got Better: Terminator 2: Judgment Day
This is the ultimate action movie. Even almost three decades later, Terminator 2: Judgment Day is the template action movies need to use to ensure they turn out to be blockbuster successes. The film combines science fiction with pure action and delivers a heart-warming tale as a nice ribbon to wrap up this classic.
With catchphrases galore spawning from this film, Terminator 2 is a trendsetter for pop culture and will never fade away from relevance. Its impact was such that every Terminator film that’s been released after this one just hasn't compared. Let's hope Dark Fate doesn't fare too badly.
4 Didn't Age Well: Mission: Impossible
The Mission: Impossible series itself has never been more popular, with the latest entry making almost $800 million worldwide. But the turn of the series starting from Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol into an adrenaline-filled, authentic stunt co-ordinated series has meant the first feels too much like a CGI-fest.
The style of this movie is also a lot more like a thriller than pure action, with Ethan Hunt acting like he’s in way over his head, compared to the Ethan Hunt we enjoy who’s ready for any fight. The final fight is the part that has aged the worst, as the train fight is all over the place with special effects. A far cry from the incredible (and real) stunts we see now.
3 Got Better: GoldenEye
Pierce Brosnan ranks among the top Bond actors out there, ranking first for a number of fans. However, his films are easily the weakest out there, as they focused more on gadgetry than character analysis.
GoldenEye, though, was perhaps Brosnan's best entry, and set the stage for him to be a classic James Bond. The film is the only one from Brosnan’s series to have a nice balance between action, comedy, and drama. It has some great catchphrases for us to remember it by, and a Sean Bean death that is still memorable. To have the best experience reliving Pierce's Bond days, GoldenEye is the way to go.
2 Didn't Age Well: Face/Off
Sure, it’s a classic of its era, but Face/Off suffers from becoming outdated in its presentation. There's a distinctly hammy feel to the whole movie, which has become increasingly glaring as time has worn on.
Its premise might have been distinct back then, but today it comes across as pushing our suspension of disbelief just a little too far. A neat concept, sure, but more than a little far-fetched and silly. This isn't to say that it's not an entertaining movie, but it's likely to raise more than a few eyebrows today.
1 Got Better: Rush Hour
The apex experience for Jackie Chan fans has to be the Rush Hour series, and the first one in the franchise was enough for us to fall in love with the pairing of Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan. It spawned a couple more sequels, but the original Rush Hour revolutionized the buddy cop action genre.
The film has laughs galore, and these are supplemented by superb, innovative action that make use of Jackie’s remarkable skills. The thrills are bolstered by Chris Tucker’s comedic timing meeting the shooting skills his character possesses. All in all, Rush Hour’s replay value will never be diminished, and we’ll instead follow up with Rush Hour 2 and Rush Hour 3 after we’re done with this movie.