10 Action Films That Changed Everything

'The Bourne Identity'
Last but not least on our list is "The Bourne Identity," the only candidate from the 21st century. United Archives/ullstein bild via Getty Images

"The Bourne Identity" was released in 2002, the same year that the James Bond film "Die Another Day" came out. "Die Another Day" made twice as much money as "Bourne," but "Bourne" is the movie that landed on our list [source: IMDb]. Both are international espionage thrillers, but "The Bourne Identity" has gritty realism, brutal fights and plausible car chases whereas "Die Another Day" has a secret satellite doomsday weapon and people changing their faces with DNA restructuring.

James Bond fans are no doubt wondering why Bond himself isn't on this list. The Bond series is massively influential, but it's hard to pick a single movie that was a game-changer. "The Bourne Identity," on the other hand, marked a turning point. Action movies after "Bourne" came out tended to skip the sci-fi evil villain plots and stick to more grounded, real-world plots and antagonists. The Bond series itself completely changed direction -- the next one was "Casino Royale," a far more realistic reboot with a new James Bond.

Other realistic action movies came out in the decade before "The Bourne Identity" ("Ronin," for instance), but "Bourne" was a turning point, and the success of the Bourne series had a lasting impact on action movie style.

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