Harrison Ford's 9 Best Action Movies, Ranked
Harrison Ford has punched more faces than he's had hot meals, which is why he is still our favorite action hero ever. 25 years ago this week, "The Fugitive" hit theaters and became an Oscar-winning blockbuster. In honor of its 25th anniversary, here is a ranking of Ford's best action fests.
9. 'Air Force One' (1997)
Ford's in vengeful, protective daddy mode here as a two-fisted President struggling to beat up and shoot terrorists that have hijacked his titular aircraft. Ford not only outsmarts and outfights the bad guys, he even out-catchphrases them. You'd have to go back to Charlton Heston or Gregory Peck to find an actor who could bellow "Get off my plane!" through clenched jaw and gritted teeth with as much conviction as Ford.
8. 'Patriot Games' (1992)
Ford's first Jack Ryan film, an R-rated follow-up to "The Hunt for Red October," emphasizes Ryan's family and his struggle to protect them from a rogue-IRA terrorist, Sean Miller (Sean Bean), after Jack thwarts Miller's London-based attempt to assassinate UK royals. You can forgive this base-hit from Summer 1992's more "meh" thriller plotting elements that dumb down the third act largely on the tension and character dynamics established by the first two. Ford gives Ryan his patented everyman vulnerability -- another "suit and tie" hero -- while punching and shooting bad guys. This is a summer movie for adults that would never be made today (without more explosions). Standout scenes in this thriller include Ryan stopping the opening assassination attempt (pictured) and a silent raid on a terrorist camp that Ryan witnesses via satellite.
7. 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade' (1989)
There are two jokes underlying the film's premise, but they're both good: First, that Indy has to drag his dad along for the adventure, and second, that his dad is James Bond. Sean Connery has great fun sending up his own man-of-action reputation and playing second banana for once, but the film still belongs to Ford, who goes gamely through each action set-piece with an incredulous "I can't believe this is happening to me AGAIN" expression that maybe only John McClane could fully appreciate.
6. 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' (2015)
Ford's last time strapping on the blaster as Han Solo is one of the actor's best performances in the role of everyone's favorite Star Wars hero. After almost a decade of angry-bored performances in a series of mostly misfires, somehow director and co-writer JJ Abrams managed to re-ignite Ford's spark that fans have long missed on the big screen. Ford's underrated comedic timing is on full display here, as he effortlessly switches from that to action hero mode. This sequel, more than 30 years in the making, was worth the wait.
5. 'Clear and Present Danger' (1994)
"Patriot Games" was arguably more about spycraft than action, an imbalance that this sequel remedies. (Though Ford can make even waiting for a printout at his office into a suspenseful sequence.) Ford reprises his role as CIA "Boy Scout" Ryan to take on well-armed drug cartels abroad and weaselly bureaucrats at home with equal aplomb. Bonus points for offering a critique of the kind of off-the-books foreign policy that led to such debacles as Iran-Contra.
4. 'Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope' (1977)
This is where many of us saw Ford for the first time, and even if you bought into all of George Lucas' Jedi/Force mysticism, Han Solo's brash cynicism was a blast of fresh air. Here was a wisecracking, manly hero out of a Howard Hawks movie, a guy who shot first, who had mad piloting skills, and who had earned the loyalty of the most badass sidekick ever. That he actually turned idealist in time to help save the day at the end was the cherry on the sundae.
3. 'Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back' (1980)
Han Solo exhibits all the swashbuckling flair and seat-of-the-pants heroism here that he did in the previous "Star Wars," but the character also takes on a tragic depth, thanks to his potentially fatal self-sacrifice in the carbonite vat. Fans still heart the "I love you/I know" exchange, because Ford gives it gravitas -- recognizing that he's proved himself worthy of Leia's love only at his direst, possibly final moment.
2. 'The Fugitive' (1993)
As impressive as it is to watch Ford escape a train wreck, or jump what looks like hundreds of feet into a ravine, his Dr. Richard Kimble is just as engaging when the character is forced to play detective, weaving through the thriller's puzzle-plotting in search of who framed him for the murder of his wife. No actor sells "thinking" on screen better than Ford (though Tom Cruise is a close second). The relentless inventiveness of the set pieces, along with the emotionally-driven stakes of the plot and the worthy adversary provided by Tommy Lee Jones makes this the most satisfying of Ford's '90s action movies.
1. 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' (1981)
This one is still the action movie to end all action movies. Part of the satisfaction comes from watching Ford's "Indiana Jones" think his way out of a problem. He knows that courage isn't the absence of fear, but the ability to push through it -- and that success is dogged persistence despite frequent failure. Ford punished his body doing many of the film's hair-raising stunts himself (that's him getting dragged behind the truck), but he suffered so that we can enjoy watching "Raiders" over and over without ever getting tired of it or failing to get caught up in the relentless forward motion of Steven Spielberg's thrill engine.<