This year, the biggest Fourth of July blockbuster movie will undoubtedly be Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp, but if you can’t make it out to the movie theater, you’ll probably want to scratch that summer blockbuster itch with a classic and bombastic guy movie. Here are five great flicks from the recent past, proving that not only do they not make them like this anymore but that in some ways, making a great big American action movie is a rare art form, like it’s an endangered species of cinema.
These five movies are all way better than they have any right to be, and one of them is streaming on Netflix because our tax dollars are good for something.
Air Force One
“Get off my plane!” In 1997, Harrison Ford starred as the President of the United States tasked with throwing hijackers off of Air Force One. This movie is so crazy entertaining it feels insane there was never a sequel made. And that’s because Air Force One is really two types of Harrison Ford movie at the same time: it’s a Patriot Games style political thriller mashed-up with the 1993 version of The Fugitive, this is kind of like if Han Solo had worn an Indiana Jones hat in The Force Awakens.
Air Force One is streaming to rent on YouTube.
Twenty years ago exactly, Armageddon became either the best disaster flick of all time or the worst. According to film critics in 1998, this movie is “noisy and stupid and shameless”; which, is just another way of saying it’s a movie worth watching after having taken care of half of a six-pack. Bruce Willis saves the entire world from a giant asteroid with the help of a bunch of likable blue-collar dudes who really don’t know how to fly spaceships. You won’t believe how much this movie holds up now and you also won’t believe how young Ben Affleck looks, or that anyone would have watched this movie in ’98 and said, “yeah I bet that dude is going to play an older, sort of depressed Batman one day.”
Armageddon is on Netflix. God bless America.
Back when Mel Gibson was still cool, he starred as a southerner who decides to fight the British for American freedom. It doesn’t really get more legit Fourth of July than this. Plus, you’ve probably forgotten how much ax-throwing and tomahawk-action goes down in this movie.
The Patriot is available for rent on Amazon, but if you have Starz, you can watch it for free right now.
“Welcome to Earth!” No Fourth of July weekend will truly be perfect without the alien invasion movie which brazenly co-opts the actual holiday while simultaneously making July 4th a global holiday. If you can’t watch it on the actual day, watch it sometime this weekend. Just avoid the totally unnecessary 2016 sequel. Will Smith isn’t even it! What’s the point!?
Independence Day is available to rent on Amazon.
Rambo: First Blood Part 2
Whenever someone complains that contemporary movie sequels have confusing subtitles or strange continuity, just remind them that Rambo: First Blood Part 2 is easily the best Rambo movie even though, as a sequel, it’s fairly confusing. Either way, this one remains one of Stallone’s greatest achievements, which is, you know, saying something, considering the Rocky cinematic universe is still going strong.
Rambo: First Blood Part 2 is available to rent on Amazon.
Prefer not to watch such straight-up Fourth of July movies on the Fourth of July? Here’s a complete list of where you can stream every single Marvel movie right now.