10 Harsh Realities Of Rewatching ’90s Action Movies


  • ’90s action movies can feel a little cheesy and artificial compared to today’s films due to exaggerated performances and unrealistic dialogue.
  • The CGI in ’90s action movies has not aged well, making them less immersive and visually impressive compared to modern films.
  • ’90s action movies often made inaccurate predictions about the future, with their visions of advanced technology and artificial intelligence falling short of reality.

Rewatching action movies from the 1990s comes with a lot of nostalgia, but there may be some harsher realities involved with diving into these classics as well. Reflecting on decades past can often feel like experiencing a simpler time. Today’s action movies have a significantly different flavor than those popular back in the day. Still, between the development of better technology and the evolution of social expectations, rewatching movies from the ’90s may not be as thrilling as we would have hoped.

The 1990s was an excellent decade for action. The tried and true formula of the ’80s ensured audiences knew exactly what they were getting into when they hit the theaters. The action films would likely feature familiar faces—Bruce Willis, Sigourney Weaver, Tom Cruise, Arnold Schwarzenegger— they all played characters who were the best of the best and ready to save the world. There were bound to be some chaotic action sequences full of firefights, car chases, and some old-fashioned hand-to-hand combat. Overall, these ’90s action movies could be summed up as a whole lot of fun. Still, from today’s perspective, they could feel a little flatter than you remember.

RELATED: The 25 Best ’90s Movies On Netflix Right Now

10 ’90s Action Films Can Be Incredibly Cheesy

A blended image features Judith Hoag as April and two Ninja Turtles in the 90s live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies

Over the years, the standard for the film industry has changed. Today, a film is expected to feel as if it could be really happening. Whether a movie is science fiction or fantasy, the way the characters behave needs to feel real. However, plots and actor performances in the past felt a lot more dramatized. People would talk in a way that they never would in real life. Since we aren’t used to this anymore, going back and seeing dramatic performances with exaggerated speech and movements can feel a little cheesy.

9 ’90s CGI Has Aged Poorly

The shark eats Russell in Deep Blue Sea

The 1990s saw a boom in CGI. It quickly became clear that technology was the future and was especially helpful for creating thrilling action movies. Of course, the time has come when special effects in Hollywood are more believable than ever. This means that 1990s CGI looks far more crude today than it did when they were released. So, going back to watch a movie like Deep Blue Sea is sure to be a less immersive experience.

8 ’90s Action Movies’ Vision Of The Future Was Way Off

Robin Willaims plays a robot in Bicentennial Man.

The science fiction genre has been imagining the future since its inception. Still, there was something about the approach of the 21st century that made Hollywood commit to this in the 1990s. Action movies like The Fifth Element and Bicentennial Man created entire worlds filled with advanced artificial intelligence, flying cars, and all sorts of other futuristic conveniences. Of course, now that the years these movies were set have come and gone, we know that the writers were entirely off. Technology has certainly come a long way, but these 1990s films were still predominantly wrong in their predictions.

7 ’90s Action Movies Are Frequently Parodied

Officer Jack Traven holding up his badge in Speed

Some of the most memorable action movies of all time were released in the 1990s, and there will always be a certain level of respect directed toward them. However, over the years, these popular films’ plots, characters, and lines have been endlessly parodied to the point that it’s difficult to take them seriously anymore. For example, Speed was a thrilling ride for audiences back in the day, but with so many Saturday Night Live-style sketches and parody films dedicated to the premise, it’s hard not to chuckle when watching the movie today.

6 Catch Phrases From ’90s Action Movies Are Hard To Take Seriously

Edward Furlong and Arnold Schwarzenegger as John Connor and the T-800 in Terminator 2

Action movies from the 1990s are highly quotable, and that’s part of their appeal. Screenwriters from the 1980s had perfected the art of giving their action stars a catchphrase—typically stated just before some badass explosion. This was duplicated time and time again throughout ’90s action. Today, a person is likelier to have heard a famous catchphrase from a ’90s action movie than to have actually seen it. This means that hearing “Hasta la vista, baby” while watching Terminator 2:Judgement Day may not have the same impact that it once did.

5 Modern Action Movies Make ’90s Action Seem Dull

Chris Evans as Steve Rogers in Avengers Age of Ultron

There’s no denying that 1990s action movies are a lot of fun, but Hollywood has used the last few decades to raise the bar much higher. Franchises like the MCU have made gunfights, war scenes, explosions, and physical combat louder and more exciting than ever before. This means that returning to watch some more crude action scenes from 1990s movies can feel dull. Modern action has desensitized us to the action films that used to make our jaws drop.

4 ’90s Action Movies Overused Cheesy Comedy


Like anything else, comedy can be run ragged over time. The things people find funny are always bound to go in and out of fashion. For this reason, older films—especially those laden with jokes—can sometimes feel a little cringy. This isn’t to say that the jokes in movies like Twister of The Fifth Element wouldn’t pull a laugh from audiences today—it’s just that modern audiences have grown used to a different standard of comedy. Today, dry or sarcastic humor has become more popular. The slap-stick style of the ’90s is sure to cycle through pop culture again, but for now, it just doesn’t hit the same way.

RELATED: 10 Harsh Realities Of Rewatching 1990s Rom-Coms

3 Many ’90s Action Movies Tried Too Hard To Copy Each Other

Deep Impact and Armageddon

Hollywood has always done its best to duplicate a blockbuster, but the 1990s seemed especially bad for a phenomenon called “twin movies.” This was when two films with nearly identical concepts were released around the same time. An example of this is Deep Impact and Armageddon, both about the necessity of destroying a world-ending meteor. Though this is a more overt example of films copying one other, there are more subtle versions of this as well. Many ’90s action movies embrace the same tried-and-true character archetypes and conflict tropes, so they have begun to feel all the same.

2 ’90s Action Movies Contained Many Of The Same Character Tropes

Split image of Tom Cruise, Bruce Willis, and Jackie Chan in the '90s

The standard for any 1990s action movie is a leading man uniquely qualified to save the world from whatever disaster it is facing. This character would likely have a love interest who either unexpectedly fell in his lap or one he knew from years ago (perhaps they used to be married), but now they hate each other. Additionally, the male action hero was sure to have a comedic sidekick—someone along for the ride entirely against their will. These ’90s tropes and cliches drew audiences in for years, but they’ve become painfully predictable to the modern eye.

1 Love Stories Often Felt Forced In ’90s Action Movies


You couldn’t have a 1990s action movie without a love story on the side. For some of the earlier action movies, these romances naturally flowed with the general plot and, therefore, made a lot of sense. However, later ’90s action began to throw in the obligatory romance, whether or not it worked. Unfortunately, the ’90s was just the start of this action movie trend, and many modern movies continue to throw in a romance that doesn’t belong. Rewatching ’90s action movies can come with the uncomfortable reality that this trend has existed for far too long.