40. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Logline: A cyborg is sent back in time to protect the boy he once tried to kill from a new creation capable of wiping out mankind’s future.
Memorable Moments: The special effects blew away everything we’d seen to that point. Arnold’s acting skills improve a tad. And that heavy-hitting finale between him and T1000 (Robert Patrick) brings the heat! “Hasta la vista, baby!”
Why Guys Dig It: It set new standards in special effects and story that were arguably untouched until 2007’s Transformers. It was also a lot better than any other entry in the series.
39. True Lies (1994)
Logline: A secret agent posing as a family man abuses his powers to find out about his wife’s affair and ends up getting them both into the adventure of their lives.
Memorable Moments: Jamie Lee Curtis could still shake it back then, and her striptease dance that she does while on “mission” is one of the steamiest you’ll see. There are also loads of great action scenes including the finale that involves skyscrapers, a crane, a jet, and some exhilarating close calls. Bill Paxton also steals the show as the car salesman in way over his head—“I got a little d***, it’s pathetic!”
Why Guys Dig It: The action is incredible and still holds up.
38. Starship Troopers (1997)
Logline: Man-eating arachnids invade our world in the future. The starship troopers are our last line of defense.
Memorable Moments: This film opens in the heat of the action with terrifying creatures and a seemingly deadly scenario for our hero (Casper Van Dien). Then, it travels back in time to the beginning and introduces us to our cast of characters: Dina Meyer as Dizzy, Denise Richards as Carmen, Van Dien as Rico, all trapped in a love triangle that plays itself out amid graphic violence and dazzling special effects. The fort invasion and the final raid at the end play nicely alongside the hilarious media updates reminiscent of director Paul Verhoeven’s previous effort Robocop, making it the perfect companion piece.
Why Guys Dig It: Hard-edged sci-fi with beautiful women, a self-aware sense of humor and great action scenes!
37. Robocop (1987)
Logline: A murdered police officer comes back as a robotic force to bring his killers to justice.
Memorable Moments: The murder of Officer Murphy (Peter Weller) is one of the most gut-wrenching scenes you’ll ever see. More like a Crucifixion than anything else, it sets the stage for Robocop’s retribution and wins viewer sympathy to the cause. These are evil men, and every scene building toward the final showdown is more gripping than the last.
Why Guys Dig It: An underlying message of what it means to be human and a biting satire of consumerism in Reagan-Era America set this film apart from the blood, guts, and non-stop action that started to become more prevalent in Eighties Cinema. However, it does those other things very well, too!
36. No Country for Old Men (2007)
Logline: A hunter finds some dead bodies, drugs, and $2 million in cash and becomes the target of an almost supernatural hit man.
Memorable Moments: This is a movie that crackles with tension. Javier Bardem’s breakout performance as the villainous Anton Chigurh provides many well-remembered moments with his cattle gun and fateful coin toss. His stalking of hero Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) builds to a crescendo that never really pays off, but you have to admire the film for tightening the rope around your neck and going to some pretty unexpected places.
Why Guys Dig It: The Coen Brothers’ adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel recreates the foreboding tension of its literary counterpart. The “what would you do in this situation” element comes back again and again, giving us plenty of food for thought to go along with our action.
35. Miller’s Crossing (1990)
Logline: A peacekeeper is caught between warring mob factions in Prohibition America.
Memorable Moments: The price of being Gabriel Byrne in this atmospheric and moody mob film is that you get beat up a lot. If Albert Finney and John Turturro aren’t smacking you around in public, then Marcia Gay Harden is knocking you across the bathroom floor. It’s hard to keep your wits under such scrutiny, but his Tom Reagan tows the line.
Why Guys Dig It: For all of its bloody action and explosions, Miller’s Crossing is a thinking man’s gangster film. Joel and Ethan Coen are experts at bringing a time period to life, and their Prohibition America is immersing.
34. In the Line of Fire (1993)
Logline: An aging Secret Service agent haunted by his one great failure gets a chance at redemption when an assassin sets sights on the President of the United States.
Memorable Moments: John Malkovich is a horrifying presence in this film. Soft-spoken yet incredibly brutal, he presents a protagonist unequaled to any that Clint Eastwood has ever faced, save for maybe the Scorpio Killer in Dirty Harry. The rooftop chase and the glass elevator scenes present two of the most memorable scenes in the movie, both of which feature good and bad meeting face-to-face.
Why Guys Dig It: Eastwood is still strong enough to be Eastwood. Malkovich is a formidable adversary. The action is tight. It’s heavy on characterization and the humor works.
33. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Logline: A thoughtful U.S. marine observes the effects of the Vietnam War on his brothers-in-arms from basic training to the inhumanity of combat.
Memorable Moments: There is something both hilarious and profanely disturbing about the basic training portion of the film. So many great lines, all too offensive for most, originated here, most thanks to R. Lee Ermey. Another standout performance, that of Adam Baldwin as the “Animal Mother,” cemented this as the ultimate war film. How the Academy could shun it at the 1988 Academy Awards, while heaping praise on the overrated and inferior Platoon is beyond comprehension.
Why Guys Dig It: Full Metal Jacket captures the horror and hell of war, as well as the camaraderie between soldiers, better than any other war film.
32. Transformers (2007)
Logline: Humanity is caught between a battle of two alien races that have the ability to appropriate and resemble machinery.
Memorable Moments: The arrival of the Autobots just in the nick of time to save earth is one of the bigger set-pieces in this surprisingly entertaining revamp of the classic cartoon. Also, the stunning opening sequence sets a tone of excitement that the rest of the film keeps living up to. And the final battle between the good guys and the Decepticons makes this one of the best summer blockbusters of the last 25 years.
Why Guys Dig It: Most of us have fond memories of the Eighties cartoon and this entry from Michael Bay made vast improvements over the things we already loved.
31. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Logline: An archaeologist and intrepid adventurer goes after the lost Ark of the Covenant in a race against time with the Nazis and a rival archaeologist.
Memorable Moments: The truck drag was one of the first movie moments that left us with slack jaws and “wow, how did they do it” stuck in our throats. The rolling boulder, the snake pit, and the melting men at the end of the movie, fueled the imagination and helped influence a new generation of filmmakers.
Why Guys Dig It: Action, romance, intrigue and surprises! Also, don’t discount the Judeo-Christian theme that fascinated western audiences and made the religious elements more accessible.