[insert John Williams score here]
May 6, 2019 4:02 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for good action-adventure movies, released in the last decade or so, that aren't grimdark or hyperviolent. More fun and adventure; less brutality – the real world is brutal enough these days.


I'm looking for something with an exciting, adventurous tone. Something I can munch popcorn to. Something fun.

Think Indiana Jones, the 90s Bond films, Jurassic Park, or The Mummy (which I didn't love, but it's certainly in the ballpark). But...newer than that. (Older stuff could work too, if it's held up particularly well.)


No crime films, war films, or other "men hurting each other" films. (I'm not completely opposed to violence – Indiana Jones punching Nazis, or 007 driving a tank in a tuxedo, are fun for the whole family. I just don't like stuff that revels in cruelty.)

Stuff with sci-fi elements is fair game. But I'm probably not looking for a full-on sci-fi film. Unless it really nails my other criteria.

It seems like they don't make many movies like this any more, which is a shame.
posted by escape from the potato planet to Media & Arts (36 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not a huge movie fan but one I really adored lately was Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. It was stupid fun and adventurous with a nice touch of screwball comedy.
posted by kimberussell at 4:21 PM on May 6, 2019 [13 favorites]

It’s older, but perhaps you’d enjoy Sneakers? Definitely a fun popcorn movie.
posted by stefnet at 4:23 PM on May 6, 2019 [6 favorites]

Mad Max: Fury Road is the best action movie I've ever seen, and I don't remember there being much gore or cruelty.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 4:28 PM on May 6, 2019 [5 favorites]

Past movies: Mr. & Mrs. Smith, have you seen the Oceans 11 etc. movies?, I thought The Expendables was funny myself, The Heat, Spy with Melissa McCarthy all come to mind.
posted by warriorqueen at 4:28 PM on May 6, 2019 [3 favorites]

National Treasure 1 and 2, in case you haven't seen them.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 4:31 PM on May 6, 2019 [5 favorites]

Galaxy Quest is sci-fi, but it's tongue in cheek sci-fi with a great cast and is super fun!

Also, if you're up for a foreign movie, you might try Seven Boxes, which is full of great chase scenes and suspense, maybe a bit more "dangerous" than you're looking for, but it's really good.
posted by brookeb at 4:42 PM on May 6, 2019 [3 favorites]

It's a sci-fi war movie, but Edge of Tomorrow is probably the most fun action movie I've seen in the past decade.
posted by General Malaise at 4:47 PM on May 6, 2019 [6 favorites]

Oh, and seconding Mad Max: Fury Road, which is the most exciting action movie I've seen in the past decade.
posted by General Malaise at 4:47 PM on May 6, 2019

Emphatically 2nding Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and especially Melissa McCarthy's Spy.

I recently re-watched 1963's Jason and the Argonauts and was impressed at how well it still plays today. The end is a bit abrupt.
posted by doctor tough love at 4:49 PM on May 6, 2019 [3 favorites]

I loved Mad Max: Fury Road, but it is definitely brutal and has a lot of cruelty.
posted by ewok_academy at 5:13 PM on May 6, 2019 [14 favorites]

Attack the Block was good. It might be scarier than you'd like, but I see Jurassic Park on your list, and it's in the same ballpark. Think Tremors, not Alien.
posted by Wobbuffet at 5:14 PM on May 6, 2019 [8 favorites]

Pacific Rim. I listened to a charming interview with Guillermo del Toro about how excited he was to make it.

John Carter got terrible reviews but my husband and I thought it was really fun.
posted by carolr at 6:11 PM on May 6, 2019 [5 favorites]

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) is mid-century mod fun.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:41 PM on May 6, 2019 [6 favorites]

I also gotta make a plug for some great classics like

The Taking of Pelham 123
Three Days of the Condor
The Warriors
posted by brookeb at 6:42 PM on May 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

I've not seen them, but from everything I've heard, the two "Kingsman" movies are like this: The Secret Service and The Golden Circle.
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:03 PM on May 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is old but has that swashbuckling kind of flair, and that would be Big Trouble in Little China. Where you have to be careful of your lactose intolerance due to all the cheeze. Oh yeah, what about a classic like Buckaroo Banzai in the 8th Dimension?

Another vote for Galaxy Quest that if you count as a Trek film maintains the rule that the even-numbered films are best. I love that film.

You want Dwayne Johnson, early Dwayne Johnson, as in The Rundown.
posted by jadepearl at 7:07 PM on May 6, 2019 [6 favorites]

There is a little crime/explosion-y violence in some of them, but just about all Fast and Furious movies fit this bill. Also, The Italian Job, if heist movies are far enough away from crime for you.
posted by PaulaSchultz at 7:20 PM on May 6, 2019 [5 favorites]

It's a little older, but still worth it. Ryan Reynolds did a Canadian heist film in 2003 that is called Foolproof. Lots of fun.

Have you seen We're The Millers? I think that might sort of qualify.
posted by gudrun at 7:22 PM on May 6, 2019

From the 80's, what you want is Romancing The Stone and its not-as-good sequel The Jewel of the Nile.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:29 PM on May 6, 2019 [9 favorites]

The Rocketeer is a fun film (set in the 1940's with gangsters, Feds, Nazi spies, barnstorming pilots and Howard Hughes). I brought the DVD for a Thanksgiving family gathering one year and the audience enjoyed it.
posted by rochrobbb at 7:30 PM on May 6, 2019 [5 favorites]

Isn’t this what the Mission:Impossible movies are supposed to be?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:46 PM on May 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

The new Star Trek movies!
posted by Sassyfras at 8:05 PM on May 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

I really enjoyed the recent Tomb Raider film.

They're from the '90s, but Legend of Drunken Master and Iron Monkey are both a lot of fun. I mean, technically they're in the men-hurting-each-other idiom, but there's no blood and honestly it's like watching a frenetic ballet.
posted by MrBadExample at 9:06 PM on May 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

Seconding soundguy99 romancing the stone immediately jumped to mind.
posted by Carillon at 9:22 PM on May 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

Hot Shots Part Deux was hilarious.
Everything Jackie Chan.
The Princess Bride.
Bon Cop, Bad Cop
The Mummy (Brendan Frasier, not the new one)
A Fish Called Wanda
Get Smart
None of these are new, but all are fun.
Also, True Lies
posted by Enid Lareg at 5:42 AM on May 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

They're from the '90s, but Legend of Drunken Master and Iron Monkey are both a lot of fun

Oh, shit yeah - if you're ok with that level of violence (and often, um, a certain level of plot incoherence), there's a whole pile of Chinese (Hong Kong) films from the 70's through 2000-ish* that might scratch your itch, and Jackie Chan films are not the worst place to start. Jet Li and Donnie Yen are other actors to check out.

Jackie did his take on Indiana Jones with Armour of God and the sequel Operation Condor. Then there's director/writer/producer Tsui Hark's Once Upon a Time in China series starring Jet Li. From Hark there's also Dragon Inn, the remake/sequel Flying Swords of Dragon Gate, Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain, and his remake with more modern FX, The Legend of Zu. Somewhat more recent (2004) is Stephen Chow's Kung Fu Hustle.

Very generally speaking you want to look for "action-comedy", "fantasy", "action-fantasy", or "wuxia" (historical, more or less) films. (Movies set in contemporary Asia tend to be grimmer and more violent (lots of guns), although many wuxia flicks are certainly deadly serious.)

* My own opinion is that around the turn of the century Chinese martial arts flicks got more violent (again, very generally speaking), but if you find said level of violence post-2000 acceptable there are a bunch of other SE Asian action films that might work for you, like Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:05 AM on May 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow may be just what you’re looking for.
posted by brand-gnu at 6:23 AM on May 7, 2019

I've not seen them, but from everything I've heard, the two "Kingsman" movies are like this: The Secret Service and The Golden Circle.

I have seen Kingsman: The Secret Service and I can tell you it is incredibly violent. It is one of the few films I've seen that I would describe as "an orgy of violence." The violence is presented in a weirdly cheerful way that many people obviously enjoyed, but it is not something I would personally suggest in response to this particular question.
posted by yankeefog at 10:03 AM on May 7, 2019 [5 favorites]

I've not seen them, but from everything I've heard, the two "Kingsman" movies are like this: The Secret Service and The Golden Circle.

... No. Really, really, no. The violence in the Kingsman movies is not realistic, but it's really over-the-top and in-your-face.

I'll second the Fast and Furious movies, The Man from UNCLE, San Andreas, Bon Cop Bad Cop, the new Jumanji, Spy. I'll add the Benjamin Gates movies, Cellular, Hitman and Bodyguard, Hell or High Water, The Nice Guys and A Perfect Day. If you like heist movies, Now You See Me and especially Logan Lucky.
posted by snakeling at 10:09 AM on May 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

'The Adventures of Tintin' fits the bill for you
posted by Dmenet at 10:22 AM on May 7, 2019

Stardust!! It is one of my favorite movies. A young 18th century shop-keep travels over a wall in order to fetch a fallen star to win the heart of the town debutante, landing in a magical kingdom where the rest of the kings children are currently comically at war trying to be the heir to the throne. there's swordfights, magic, love, distant lands, chase scenes, and flamboyant pirates.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is more down-to-earth adventure than, say, any of the bond movies. they call it an "adventure comedy-drama", but it's mostly a hilarious adventure movie that deals with real emotions of family and belonging.

I know you said no crime, but Focus, starring Will Smith was harmless mostly, and also very fun. Its about con men and grifters, who pickpocket or scam the wealthy in extravagant and elaborate ways. there is one gun show-down in the movie.

Fantastic Beasts and where to Find Them is an adventure movie, and is entirely independent of the Harry Potter franchise, many people who do not like HP enjoyed that movie.

I thought Men in Black: International was super fun, and about as much violence as the first few.

Also, all 3 of How to Train Your Dragon
posted by FirstMateKate at 2:00 PM on May 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

If action-adventure + comedy works for you, I totally recommend The Heat and The Other Guys.
posted by Mchelly at 2:17 PM on May 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I know it's crime, but I so loved the latest Italian Job, and all the Ocean's movies, including the all-female version. Heist movies almost aren't crime stories, since the the subject of the heist is an object, not violence to a person.

Along the same lines, Baby Driver was wonderful, even though it had Kevin Spacey in it (at least he played a bad guy).

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle is actually the first thing I thought of when I saw your question. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Jack Black is a hoot, and Naomi Watts was perfect.

Also, really, Peter Jackson's King Kong. For some reason it gets a lot of grief, but I really enjoyed it.

Whoever suggested the National Treasure films is right on. Lots of action, chases, suspense, etc., but no violence. Great vehicles for Nic Cage.

I agree with most people here that the Kingsmen movies, while enjoyable, are quite violent, not in a popcorny way. Similarly, I would not recommend Mad Max: Fury Road, which I very much enjoyed, but again, it's quite violent.
posted by lhauser at 7:33 PM on May 7, 2019

My Fellow Americans with James Garner and Jack Lemmon as ex-presidents. Billed as a comedy, but it's a chase movie.

Speaking of chases, The Thirty-nine Steps was the first "man on the run" story and there has been at least one recent remake.
posted by SemiSalt at 10:04 AM on May 8, 2019

Coming back to add a bit late, since it took me a while to dredge up the name, I found Paycheck enjoyable in a popcorn movie way (has some scifi elements, but mostly not an sf movie).
posted by gudrun at 8:15 AM on May 10, 2019

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