Movies

12 Best Action Movie Duos, Ranked

Summary

  • Mel Gibson and Danny Glover give an iconic performance as mismatched cops with hilarious disagreements in the Lethal Weapon franchise.
  • Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon show how the main characters’ bond develops throughout Thelma & Louise.
  • Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston expertly portray the ever-changing relationship of brothers turned rivals turned allies throughout the Thor and MCU movies.


The best acting duos in action movies effectively portray partnerships between people on the same side of a conflict or the rivalry between a main hero and a villain. Some stories comprise both of these things, with the relationship between the characters changing over time. Good actors make the evolution of the relationship believable while maintaining what initially made their dynamic entertaining and engaging the audience with thrilling action sequences.

Many of the most well-known acting duos from action movies only appear in one movie together, or one franchise. However, some pairs have gone on to co-star in additional movies and TV shows. Fans of a duo’s first on-screen collaboration are always eager to see how the two actors’ chemistry will work when they are acting out a different dynamic.


12 Mel Gibson & Danny Glover

Lethal Weapon Franchise

Riggs and Murtaugh with guns in Lethal Weapon

A milestone for the buddy cop movies, Lethal Weapon follows a seemingly mismatched duo trying to uncover a drug-dealing business. Danny Glover plays the straight-laced veteran cop Roger Murtagh, who is paired with Mel Gibson’s reckless Martin Riggs. Glover and Gibson give an iconic performance as Murtagh and Riggs, who predictably disagree over their course of action in the most hilarious ways possible. After co-starring in several more Lethal Weapon movies in the 80s and 90s, Glover and Gibson are both returning for the upcoming Lethal Weapon 5, the franchise’s final installment.

11 Geena Davis & Susan Sarandon

Thelma & Louise

Thelma and Louise smiling while taking a selfie with a polaroid camera

Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon’s only acting collaboration is their famous action crime drama Thelma & Louise. Davis is Thelma and Sarandon is Louise, who embark upon a weekend trip away from husbands and boyfriends that goes horribly wrong. Thelma is timid but becomes more assertive throughout the movie, while Louise is strong-willed but pessimistic. Louise reveals more about herself as the movie goes on, leading up to a memorable finale that demonstrates the women’s bond. From the long list of actresses considered for the leading roles, Davis and Sarandon were the perfect choice to capture Thelma and Louise’s heartfelt friendship.

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10 Harrison Ford & Peter Mayhew

Star Wars Franchise

Han Solo and Chewbacca standing together in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Despite Peter Mayhew wearing a full Wookie suit the entire series, he and Harrison Ford have a great dynamic as Han Solo and his co-pilot Chewbacca. While Han sarcastically plays off Luke and Leia, he and Chewie have a long-standing partnership and friendship. Mayhew appeared alongside Ford in all the movies of the original Star Wars trilogy and returned as Chewie for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. However, he is replaced by Joonas Suotamo for the rest of the Star Wars sequel trilogy. The Force Awakens was fittingly the last movie where Han and Chewie appeared together on-screen before Mayhew passed away in April 2019.

9 Tommy Lee Jones & Will Smith

Men In Black Franchise

Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith in MiB

In the first Men in Black movie, the audience is introduced to “Agent K” (Tommy Lee Jones), who recruits N.Y.P.D. officer James Edwards (Will Smith) to a secret organization that combats extraterrestrial threats. The new “Agent J” learns from his mentor while demonstrating his own skills. K advises J, but J also comes to K’s rescue when needed. Their partnership evolves throughout the Men in Black movies as they learn how to utilize each other’s skill sets and play off each other with funny, sarcastic remarks. Thankfully, Jones and Smith are both talented actors who can make humor work within an action franchise.

8 Samuel L. Jackson & John Travolta

Pulp Fiction

Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta play a pair of hitmen in Quentin Tarantino’s classic crime drama Pulp Fiction. Jules Winnfield (Jackson) and Vincent Vega (Travolta) have witty, long-winded conversations about their work and the people involved with it, most notably their boss Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) and his wife Mia (Uma Thurman). In Pulp Fiction’s ending, Vincent is perplexed by Jules’ sudden epiphany to live a better life. Jackson and Travolta collaborated again after Pulp Fiction, but their next movie Basic was a critical failure.

7 Bruce Willis & Alan Rickman

Die Hard

Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman

Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman have relatively little screen time together in Die Hard, which was a breakout movie for both of them. Willis’ John McClane spends most of the movie independently navigating the office building taken over by Rickman’s Hans Gruber and his group of terrorists. They each know the other is a threat despite having never seen each other face-to-face. This only makes their first meeting more tense, where Gruber pretends to be another bystander who is trying to get to safety. Willis and Rickman give an amazing performance of the suspicion and eventual confrontation between the two characters.

6 Chris Hemsworth & Tom Hiddleston

The MCU

Chris Hemsworth's Thor and Tom Hiddleston's Loki in the elevator scene in Thor Ragnarok

Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston both gained widespread fame starring in Thor and The Avengers. The MCU’s Thor and Loki have a constantly changing relationship. At first, they are brothers who are seemingly best friends, until Loki’s jealousy and plot against Thor is revealed. They are rivals who are occasionally forced to work together for a couple of movies after Thor. However, Thor still cares about his brother despite Loki’s betrayal.

Thor: Ragnarok shows the most development in their relationship, where they openly address their differences. Ragnarok’s more humorous tone also allows Hemsworth and Hiddleston to portray some different interactions, but their chemistry is still apparent. Loki eventually becomes an anti-hero who, despite his past, will always stand by his brother. Hemsworth and Hiddleston expertly depict the ongoing tension and dedication between Thor and Loki.

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10 Most Heartwarming MCU Sibling Duos

No matter if they’re blood related or adopted, these sibling duos show off some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s best family dynamics.

5 Vin Diesel & Paul Walker

Fast & Furious Franchise

Dom and Brian standing over a table in Fast and Furious 6

While The Fast and the Furious frames Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) as the protagonist, Dominic “Dom” Toretto (Vin Diesel) is undeniably the star. Brian is initially an undercover cop who befriends Dom’s family while investigating a series of truck robberies. Brian and Dom have a tense relationship for their first two mutual Fast & Furious movies because of this. However, Brian eventually gives up his profession, helps rescue Dom from a prison bus, and goes on the run with Dom and his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster).

After this, Dom can’t reasonably suspect that Brian is working against his family anymore. However, they still have a great dynamic because of their friendly racing rivalry and a shared passion for cars. They have a series of amusing one-liners mocking each other but are also consistently supportive. Sadly, Walker died while filming for Furious 7 was taking place, leading to Brian’s exit from the series.

4 Keanu Reeves & Hugo Weaving

The Matrix Franchise

The fights between Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) are among the best moments of The Matrix franchise. They are usually accompanied by stoically delivered dialogue that demonstrates the characters’ ideological conflict. Neo and Agent Smith’s rivalry is representative of the bigger issues of free will vs. destiny in the Matrix movies. Weaving does not appear in the legacy sequel The Matrix Resurrections, and the absence of his and Reeves’ dynamic is one of the movie’s biggest weaknesses.

3 Sylvester Stallone & Dolph Lundgren

Expendables Franchise, Rocky 4, & Creed II

Rocky IV Stallone Lundgren

Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren appear in several action franchises together. Stallone plays Barney Ross, the leader of the mercenary team known as the “Expendables,” of which Lundgren’s Gunner Jensen is a sniper. Stallone plays Rocky Balboa in all the Rocky movies, with Lundgren appearing in the fourth installment as a new challenger for Rocky to fight. They also both appear in the Rocky spinoff Creed II, as rival mentors training new boxers who will face off against each other. Stallone and Lundgren’s history as an action duo uniquely encompasses depicting both a partnership and a rivalry.

Related

10 Best Duos From Animated Disney Movies, Ranked

From Genie and Aladdin to the hilarious Timon and Pumba, Disney animated movies have produced some remarkable duos throughout the years.

2 N.T. Rama Rao Jr. & Ram Charan

RRR

N.T. Rama Rao Jr. & Ram Charan bring an amazing friendship to life in RRR, playing Bheem and Raju respectively. Their characters are inspired by the historical Indian revolutionaries Alluri Sitarama Raju and Komaram Bheem. In RRR, Raju is working to infiltrate the British military to acquire weapons for the Indian people, while Bheem is on a mission to rescue a young girl kidnapped by a British official. Throughout the movie, their relationship encompasses betrayal and eventual reconciliation, with them both rescuing the other at different points. Rama Rao and Charan are excellent together, portraying everything between their characters from conflict to emotional moments to intense action sequences.

1 Michelle Yeoh & Ke Huy Quan

Everything Everywhere All At Once

In Everything Everywhere All at Once, Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan play Evelyn and Waymond Wang, a married immigrant couple who are drawn into a multiversal conflict. Both Yeoh and Quan successfully play the different versions of their characters across the multiverse, but they also have great chemistry. Throughout the movie, Evelyn and Waymond deal with problems in their marriage brought on by their vastly different personalities. However, they reconcile when Evelyn realizes that Waymond’s optimism is exactly what she needs.

Yeoh and Quan both appear in the Disney+ series American Born Chinese. They are also both starring in the upcoming sci-fi movie The Electric State. While action movie duos like Yeoh and Quan may have only appeared in one movie or series together, their chemistry is so palpable that audiences are eager to see them collaborate again.

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