Top 10 Action Movie One-liners of the 21st Century

Last Updated on August 3, 2021

There are so many memorable quotes from films that it would be nearly impossible to condense them into a single top ten list. So, how about just the one-liners from action films? Even that is a daunting task with so many great lines in films like LETHAL WEAPON and DIRTY HARRY. So, looking at only films released in the last sixteen years, we have ranked the best of the best to bring you the definitive one-liners of the 21st century action film. If we missed one or you think our ranking is bullshit, let us know in the talk backs below. Keep in mind we are talking about one-liners and not quotes or monologues. These are the quick, one shot pieces of dialogue in an action film that sell the scene whether it be a kill shot or just a comeback.


“It’s my job to arrange the meeting.”

Dude, this line is so off the cuff and delivered in such a cold way that you cannot help but get chills. Denzel Washington’s Creasy is the guy you want searching for you if you are ever kidnapped. Forget Bryan Mills, this is the ultimate rescue hero giving the ultimate one-liner of the last two decades.


“Today we are cancelling the Apocalypse.”

Guillermo Del Toro’s underappreciated monsters versus robot epic is the perfect summer movie. It has action, sexy stars, great special effects, and the ultimate one-liner. In a way, this is the 21st century equivalent of Bill Pullman’s iconic line in INDEPENDENCE DAY and I think in 20 years we will rank this one just as fondly.


“Are you not entertained?”

Another movie with great quotes, I was torn between this line and “On my command, unleash hell”. Both are fantastic examples of why this movie is so good as an action movie and a dramatic film in the way they balance cliche one-liners and gravitas of a period epic. Russell Crowe has never been better. Damn, now I want to go watch GLADIATOR again.


“You’re locked in here with me.”

Yeah, I know, two Zack Snyder movies on the same list. I must be a f*cking moron, right? Both 300 and WATCHMEN have devoted fans and a lot of detractors but you cannot argue with these quotes. WATCHMEN may not have been the adaptation that fans of the comic were looking for, but it is still a stylistic gem that is worth rewatching for the performance of Jackie Earle Haley alone. His take on Rorschach is disturbing and dark and this scene proves why you should never underestimate the little guy.

#5 – 300

“This is Sparta!”

I could have easily chosen “tonight we dine in Hell” or “then we will fight in the shade”, but this line is so perfect that it became a meme that is still in use today. Go back and rewatch 300 and this scene will still get your adrenaline pumping each and every time.


“Yeah, I’m thinking i’m back.”

Keanu Reeves is one of those actors who has been ripe for a comeback. When JOHN WICK hit theaters a couple of years ago, everyone was shocked to find it was way better than it had any right to be. Within the blood-soaked action scenes, Reeves delivers one of his best performances in years. Featured in the trailer, this line comes at the end of a brief monologue and is dripping with awesomeness.


“I like the way you die, boy.”

Quentin Tarantino has numerous quotes that will rank amongst the best in movie history through his career, but DJANGO UNCHAINED features one of his best one-liners. Searching for his wife and the men who tortured him through his life as a slave, Jamie Foxx’s Django turns around something said to him and makes it one hell of a way to send a man to meet his maker.

#8 – FURIOUS 7

“Daddy’s gotta go to work.”

Dwayne Johnson is franchise Viagra and this is one of the reasons why. FURIOUS 7 devolved the franchise into a cliche action movie replete with one-liners, but Johnson’s delivery of this line followed by the ripping off of his cast just sells this as complete and utter badassery.


“I’ve had it with these motherf&cking snakes…”

Yeah, this is a dumb movie. Really just stupid. But, it also manages to be a good deal of fun, too. Samuel L. Jackson does he best job of playing it straight despite knowing that this is just nonsense. Still, when he delivers this line he must have known it would go down in history.


“Machete don’t text.”

Danny Trejo’s grindhouse action character was born of a trailer and therefore talks like one. Robert Rodriguez gave Machete numerous lines that are quotable, but this quick three word response to Jessica Alba is the best. Simple, to the point, and easily printed on a t-shirt, this is a great one-liner.


About the Author

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Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.