Best Sci-Fi Action Movies of the 90s, Ranked

ytsfreeSeptember 9, 2022

Sci-fi and action are two of the most popular film genres of all time. Since Hollywood has become an exceedingly saturated market with hundreds of films being released every year, the intersection of genres allows for greater freedom for the filmmaker to be able to cover more ground with their film while keeping the audience interested. We’ve seen romantic comedies, action-fantasy, and even horror comedy movies dominating the box office. One of the best and smoothest intersections of genres is sci–fi action.


Sci-fi action films revolve around traditional science-fiction plot points while carrying out a great deal of action sequences in between. Some modern examples of sci-fi action films are Prey, The Samaritan,and Jurassic World. Films like these keep us interested in the film with the science fiction aspect while keeping our adrenaline pumping with all the action scenes. Science fiction and action have always been a good combination, creating classic films we all know and love. These are the best sci-fi action movies of the 90s, ranked.

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8 Starship Troopers

Starship Troopers tells the story of young soldier Johnny Rico and the challenges he faces in the futuristic military Mobile Infantry unit. The film follows Rico as he progresses from a recruit to eventually becoming an officer. All of this takes place during an interstellar war between humankind and the species known as Arachnids. While the film received mostly negative reviews at the time of its release, updated reviews have since seen the value in the film’s political satire (as outlined by The New Yorker). In 2012, Starship Troopers earned a spot in the top 20 of “The 100 Best Films of the 1990s” from Slant Magazine.

Related: Best Sci-Fi Action Movies of the 2000s, Ranked

7 Independence Day

Independence Day focuses on groups of people in the Nevada desert who are struggling to pick up the pieces after a global attack on the planet from an extraterrestrial race. When everyone on the planet puts their differences aside, they plan a counterattack, which is set to take place on July 4, known as American Independence Day. Independence Day changed the game in Hollywood, opening doors to the disaster film genre while causing a surge in the popularity of sci-fi action films. The film was the highest-grossing film of 1996 and was nominated for two Academy Awards, winning the Oscar for Best Visual Effects. The film’s popularity has led to the release of the sequel Independence Day: Resurgence, released in 2016, 20 years after the premiere of the original film.

6 Men in Black

After his six-year stint on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will Smith branched out into film. One role he would go on to play in a total of three films would be that of Agent J in the Men in Black franchise. The first film introduces the concept of a bureau of workers whose job is to keep the truth about aliens from the public, all while protecting the world from extraterrestrial threats. Starring alongside his well-seasoned partner Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), Agent J quickly learns that almost everything he’s ever heard about aliens is true. The popularity of Men in Black led to the creation of a second, third, and fourth film. The original film even received three nominations at the Academy Awards, taking home the Oscar for Best Makeup, for obvious reasons.

5 Total Recall

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, and Sharon Stone, Total Recall tells the story of Douglas Quaid, a laborer who receives an implanted memory of an adventure on Mars. After this implant, Quaid sees his memory in his reality, all while agents of a shadow organization are doing everything in their power to prevent him from remembering his past as a Martian secret agent trying to take down the tyrannical Martian dictator. After more than 15 years in developmental hell, Total Recall was well worth the wait, being praised for the special effects as well as the ambiguous ending.

Related: Best Sci-Fi Action Movies of the 2010s, Ranked

4 The Fifth Element

The Fifth Element is one of the most underrated sci-fi films to ever be released. In a distant future, cab driver and former Major in the Special Forces Korben Dallas finds himself tangled up with an orange-haired lady named Leeloo, who turns out to be the fifth element needed to stop the great evil from destroying the universe. In order to prevent this from happening altogether, Korben and Leeloo must find the four elemental stones to carry out the ritual to save humanity from extinction. The film is unique in every way, earning itself a number of awards, including the Lumieres Award for Best Director. The film features Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, and Gary Oldman, each of whom brought phenomenal performances to the screen.

3 Jurassic Park

While we have now come to a point where the Jurassic World franchise is coming to a close, it seems that the origins of the reboot have gotten lost in the shuffle. The whole concept of creating a dinosaur park was introduced in the first film Jurassic Park in 1993. Directed by Steven Spielberg, this iconic film not only brought dinosaurs to life in a way never seen before, but it showed the realities of what would happen should dinosaurs and humans live on the same surface. Starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum as the main cast, Jurassic Park is a classic sci-fi action film that deserves more attention from the modern generation.

2 Terminator 2: Judgement Day

As the second installment in the Terminator franchise, Terminator 2: Judgement Day is arguably better than its predecessor. The film follows a cyborg, identical to the one who failed to kill Sarah Connor, who is tasked with protecting her ten-year-old son from a more advanced cyborg. Terminator 2 was the highest grossing film of 1991 worldwide and is the third-highest-grossing film of all time, making it a commercial success. While upon its release the film was met with critical backlash, it has since been reevaluated and is now considered to be one of the best sci-fi movies ever made.

1 The Matrix

Topping our list as the best sci-fi action movie of the 90s, and arguably of all time, is The Matrix. Following the life of hacker Neo AKA Thomas Anderson, who soon discovers the truth about his so-called ‘life’. With the help of Morpheus and Trinity, Neo gets unplugged from The Matrix and fights back against it, helping to keep the machines at bay. Starring a dynamite cast of Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Laurence Fishbourne, The Matrix spawned a cult following, and with three sequels, including The Matrix Resurrections, and an animated film to boot, The Matrix is one of the best pieces of science fiction to come out of the 90s.

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