John McTiernan, Top Ten

John McTiernan: The Definitive Ranking

Whatever happened to... John McTiernan | The Brain Jar

And yet another listicle. May the listicle gods be appeased and grant me bounty.

At least it’s a top eleven, not a top ten. Top tens are stupid.

John McTiernan hasn’t worked since the early 2000s. After some trouble with the feds, he hasn’t been able to get a new project off the ground since. I doubt the movie listed on his IMDB page, Tau Ceti Four, ever gets made. This is probably it for the man, and he did not end well with three subpar films.

Oh well, for the man who made Die Hard, Predator, The Hunt for Red October, and Last Action Hero, he’s made his mark on action filmmaking.

Rollerball (2002 film) - Wikipedia

  1. Rollerball

“John McTiernan should feel bad for loosing this upon the world. It’s flatly acted (except by Jean Reno as the owner who’s just having a ball), flatly filmed (when it’s not embarrassingly filmed), confusingly told (no except, it’s always confusing), and rather painful to sit through. I hated this movie.”

Basic (2003) - IMDb

  1. Basic

“It saddens me that this is probably how McTiernan’s career is going to end. After this he entered his legal and bankruptcy troubles and he hasn’t made a movie since, and I doubt he’ll ever get the funding for another one. He obviously hadn’t lost his ability to make a movie. He just needed to work off of a better script.” Medicine Man POSTER Movie (27 x 40 Inches - 69cm x ...

  1. Medicine Man

“There’s just so much going on the film and so little of it ends up working very well. Even the medical mystery stuff just ends up falling apart. It has so many markings of a director trying to become serious, of John McTiernan trying to make his The Color Purple or Empire of the Sun, but he chose the wrong script to do it. The failure is rather complete here, and it’s a bit depressing.” Nomads Movie Poster (27 x 40 Inches - 69cm x 102cm ...

  1. Nomads

“As a first film, it shows promise. It needed a serious rewrite to figure out the vision elements and a redesign of the nomads to give them an actual sense of visual menace. I think Arnold showed real foresight when he saw this and got McTiernan to direct Predator.” The 13th Warrior 11 x 17 Movie Poster - Style B ...

  1. The 13th Warrior

“I’m rather mixed on this film. From a purely technical perspective, there’s a good bit worthwhile, but there’s also a problem in terms of emotional disconnect based on some narrative choices that don’t really work. The adaptation of Eaters of the Dead (which is, in turn, a rather clever take on Beowulf) could have been more engaging and entertaining than it is. It’s far from a disaster, but also far from a success.”

The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) - IMDb

  1. The Thomas Crown Affair

“Brosnan and Russo are fun as the leads. Leary is understated and effective as the police detective who’s sometimes a step behind on the plot but always clear-eyed when it comes to Catherine. Bill Conti’s music is delectably amusing, and John McTiernan’s direction is assured and confident. It’s a solid time at the movies.”

Predator movie poster #1566923 -

  1. Predator

“It’s a very fun creature feature that understands the basics of how to use its creature effectively in ways that Spielberg accidentally found in Jaws. It’s a really fun balance that we get a lot of looks at the creature but it gets to keep changing, taking the design deeper several times. Arnold is himself, and the rest of the cast acts appropriately tough and scared.” Die Hard Movie Poster 24x36: Prints: Posters & Prints

  1. Die Hard

“Willis and Rickman are great. The supporting cast is really good. Action is great. Tension is palpable. The character of McClane strikes a delicate balance between indestructible and vulnerable while Gruber is really smart and very good at what he does, creating a great foil between protagonist and antagonist. I really like this film, I just kind of wish I liked it a bit more like everyone else.” Last Action Hero POSTER (11" x 17"): Posters & Prints

  1. Last Action Hero

“On top of the strong storytelling and deconstruction, there’s simply a lot of fun to be had on a moment by moment basis. Little nods here and there to the ridiculousness of the universe keep the affair lighter and breezier than one might expect…I kind of love Last Action Hero.”

Die Hard: With a Vengeance 1995 Authentic 27" x 40" Original Movie ...

  1. Die Hard with a Vengeance

“It’s intelligent and preposterous in equal measure. It takes the time to sell its own reality. It gives space for all three principle characters to play off of each other. Die Hard with a Vengeance feels open and alive and better constructed than any other film in the franchise up to this point. And, hey! They got rid of the idiotic police character who only gets in John’s way! I’m quite appreciative of that.”

The Hunt for Red October (1990) - IMDb

  1. The Hunt for Red October

“In terms of straightly told Cold War thrillers, this really is one of the best of them. It’s exciting, really well made, well-acted, and intelligent. It’s not only comfort watching, but high quality entertainment as well.”


13 thoughts on “John McTiernan: The Definitive Ranking”

  1. the horde’s movie thread, reminded me of basic, a little film that mactiernan, did around 99, I remember that drudge back then, had a conniption over it, because of the way it portrayed certain military personnel, but it was a whodunnit, with a military theme, a little like general’s daughter that demille apparently lliked


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