What are some of the most exciting and action-packed action-adventure screenplays that screenwriters can learn from?
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Reading how-to books and articles about screenwriting can only take you so far.
The best education you can receive to ready yourself for screenwriting greatness is to watch movies and — more importantly — read movie scripts. Our partners at The Script Lab understand the importance of this and you’ll find that many of the scripts available in this list are through them.
As you read more scripts, you’ll quickly see that there’s no single way to write a screenplay. Yes, there’s a general format and structure to follow for most, but the best thing that you can do is read as many screenplays as you can to see what works best for you and your action-packed stories.
Here we present seventy-five action and adventure screenplays that you can use as roadmaps to creating your own exciting cinematic roller coaster rides.
Note: Many of the screenplays will differ from the final cut of the movies due to film editing, shooting draft changes, and the fact that some are earlier drafts. Also, some of the scripts don’t adhere to the general contemporary guidelines and expectations that novice screenwriters should abide by. When in doubt, always err on those guidelines and expectations. Some scripts follow a dated format while others are written by established professionals that have format leeway and are allowed to go beyond the general 90-120 page count guideline.
Read ScreenCraft’s The Differences Between Screenwriting Rules, Guidelines, and Expectations and Does Correct Screenplay Format REALLY Matter? to learn more about format guidelines and expectations!
*Click on each image to read the script!*
Two hardened criminals get into trouble with the US border patrol after meeting with a Mexican drug lord, and then revelations start to unfold.
An aging alcoholic cop is assigned the task of escorting a witness from police custody to a courthouse 16 blocks away. There are, however, chaotic forces at work that prevent them from making it in one piece.
A hard-nosed cop reluctantly teams up with a wise-cracking criminal temporarily paroled to him, in order to track down a killer.
Above the Law
A former Special Operations Vietnam vet works as a Chicago cop and uncovers C.I.A. wrongdoing.
Air Force One
Communist Radicals hijack Air Force One with The U.S. President and his family on board. The Vice President negotiates from Washington D.C., while the President, a Veteran, fights to rescue the hostages on board.
Ellen Ripley is rescued by a deep salvage team after being in hypersleep for 57 years. The moon that the Nostromo visited has been colonized, but contact is lost. This time, colonial marines have impressive firepower, but will that be enough?
After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.
Two hip detectives protect a witness to a murder while investigating a case of stolen heroin from the evidence storage room from their police precinct.
The Bourne Identity
A man is picked up by a fishing boat, bullet-riddled and suffering from amnesia, before racing to elude assassins and attempting to regain his memory.
The Bourne Supremacy
When Jason Bourne is framed for a CIA operation gone awry, he is forced to resume his former life as a trained assassin to survive.
The Bourne Ultimatum
Jason Bourne dodges a ruthless C.I.A. official and his Agents from a new assassination program while searching for the origins of his life as a trained killer.
Terrorists steal nuclear warheads from the U.S. military but don’t count on a pilot and park ranger spoiling their plans.
An all guts, no glory San Francisco cop becomes determined to find the underworld kingpin that killed the witness in his protection.
Armed with a license to kill, Secret Agent James Bond sets out on his first mission as 007, and must defeat a private banker to terrorists in a high stakes game of poker at Casino Royale, Montenegro, but things are not what they seem.
A young man receives an emergency phone call on his cell phone from an older woman. The catch? The woman claims to have been kidnapped, and the kidnappers have targeted her husband and child next.
Three women, detectives with a mysterious boss, retrieve stolen voice-ID software, using martial arts, tech skills, and sex appeal.
A botched mid-air heist results in suitcases full of cash being searched for by various groups throughout the Rocky Mountains.
After his family is killed by a terrorist act, a firefighter goes in search of the one responsible.
A retired Special Forces colonel tries to save his daughter, who was abducted by his former subordinate.
Professional assassin Chev Chelios learns his rival has injected him with a poison that will kill him if his heart rate drops.
An NYPD officer tries to save his wife and several others taken hostage by German terrorists during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.
Die Hard 2
John McClane attempts to avert disaster as rogue military operatives seize control of Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C.
Die Hard 3
John McClane and a Harlem store owner are targeted by German terrorist Simon Gruber in New York City, where he plans to rob the Federal Reserve Building.
A mysterious Hollywood stuntman and mechanic moonlights as a getaway driver and finds himself in trouble when he helps out his neighbor in this action drama.
A man believes he has put his mysterious past behind him and has dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when he meets a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can’t stand idly by — he has to help her.
When terrorists seize control of an airliner, an intelligence analyst accompanies a commando unit for a midair boarding operation.
In order to foil a terrorist plot, an FBI agent undergoes a facial transplant surgery and assumes the identity and physical appearance of a terrorist, but the plan turns from bad to worse when the same terrorist impersonates the FBI agent.
A formidable but unstable veteran Green Beret is forced by a cruel Sheriff and his deputies to flee into the mountains and wage an escalating one-man war against his pursuers.
For Your Eyes Only
Agent 007 is assigned to hunt for a lost British weapons communication/control device and prevent it from falling into enemy hands.
From Russia with Love
James Bond willingly falls into an assassination plot involving a naive Russian beauty in order to retrieve a Soviet encryption device that was stolen by S.P.E.C.T.R.E.
Dr. Richard Kimble, unjustly accused of murdering his wife, must find the real killer while being the target of a nationwide manhunt led by a seasoned U.S. Marshal.
When a deadly satellite weapon system falls into the wrong hands, only Agent 007 can save the world from certain disaster. Armed with his license to kill, Bond races to Russia in search of the stolen access codes for “Goldeneye,” an awesome space weapon that can fire a devastating electromagnetic pulse toward Earth. But 007 is up against an enemy who anticipates his every move: a mastermind motivated by years of simmering hatred. Bond also squares off against Xenia Onatopp, an assassin who uses pleasure as her ultimate weapon.
While investigating a gold magnate’s smuggling, James Bond uncovers a plot to contaminate the Fort Knox gold reserve.
Gone in 60 Seconds
A retired master car thief must come back to the industry and steal fifty cars with his crew in one night to save his brother’s life.
Discovering covert and faulty intelligence causes a U.S. Army officer to go rogue as he hunts for Weapons of Mass Destruction in an unstable region.
Grosse Point Blank
Martin Blank is a professional assassin. He is sent on a mission to a small Detroit suburb, Grosse Pointe, and, by coincidence, his ten-year high school reunion party is taking place there at the same time.
A sixteen-year-old girl who was raised by her father to be the perfect assassin is dispatched on a mission across Europe, tracked by a ruthless intelligence agent and her operatives.
The nephew of an armored-truck driver tries to prevent three million dollars from being taken by a local rival gang during a catastrophic flooding caused by a severe storm.
Hard to Kill
Left for dead with his wife killed in their house, L.A. Detective Mason Storm will have to make a quick recovery, expose those behind the murder and take revenge.
When a family is held hostage, former hostage negotiator Jeff Talley arrives at the scene. Talley’s own family is kidnapped and Talley must decide which is more important: saving a family he doesn’t even know or saving his own family.
A cat burglar is forced to steal Da Vinci works of art for a world domination plot.
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
In 1936, archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before Adolf Hitler’s Nazis can obtain its awesome powers.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
In 1935, Indiana Jones arrives in India, still part of the British Empire, and is asked to find a mystical stone. He then stumbles upon a secret cult committing enslavement and human sacrifices in the catacombs of an ancient palace.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
In 1938, after his father Professor Henry Jones, Sr. goes missing while pursuing the Holy Grail, Professor Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr. finds himself up against Adolf Hitler’s Nazis again to stop them from obtaining its powers.
The Italian Job
After being betrayed and left for dead in Italy, Charlie Croker and his team plan an elaborate gold heist against their former ally.
When a killer shark unleashes chaos on a beach community, it’s up to a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer to hunt the beast down.
An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that killed his dog and took everything from him.
A pragmatic Paleontologist visiting an almost complete theme park is tasked with protecting a couple of kids after a power failure causes the park’s cloned dinosaurs to run loose.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
A spy organization recruits an unrefined, but promising street kid into the agency’s ultra-competitive training program, just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius.
A greedy film producer assembles a team of moviemakers and sets out for the infamous Skull Island, where they find more than just cannibalistic natives.
Last Action Hero
With the help of a magic ticket, a young movie fan is transported into the fictional world of his favorite action movie character.
The Last Boy Scout
A private detective’s protected female witness is murdered, prompting him and the victim’s boyfriend to investigate the crime that leads to a corrupt politician and a crooked football team owner.
Two newly paired cops who are complete opposites must put aside their differences in order to catch a gang of drug smugglers.
Lethal Weapon 4
With personal crises and age weighing in on them, LAPD officers Riggs and Murtaugh must contend with deadly Chinese triads that are trying to free their former leaders out of prison and onto American soil.
Live and Let Die
007 is sent to stop a diabolically brilliant heroin magnate armed with a complex organization and a reliable psychic tarot card reader.
Live Free Die Hard
John McClane and a young hacker join forces to take down master cyber-terrorist Thomas Gabriel in Washington D.C.
Mad Max: Fury Road
In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a woman rebels against a tyrannical ruler in search of her homeland with the aid of a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshiper, and a drifter named Max.
Man on Fire
In Mexico City, a former CIA operative swears vengeance on those who committed an unspeakable act against the family he was hired to protect.
An American agent, under false suspicion of disloyalty, must discover and expose the real spy without the help of his organization.
Mission Impossible II
I.M.F. Agent Ethan Hunt is sent to Sydney, Australia to find and destroy a genetically modified disease called “Chimera”.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith
A bored married couple is surprised to learn that they are both assassins hired by competing agencies to kill each other.
At an archaeological dig in the ancient city of Hamunaptra, an American serving in the French Foreign Legion accidentally awakens a mummy who begins to wreak havoc as he searches for the reincarnation of his long-lost love.
A historian races to find the legendary Templar Treasure before a team of mercenaries.
A fake Fabergé egg and a fellow Agent’s death lead James Bond to uncover an international jewel-smuggling operation, headed by the mysterious Octopussy, being used to disguise a nuclear attack on N.A.T.O. forces.
Rambo: First Blood Part II
John Rambo is released from prison by the government for a top-secret covert mission to the last place on Earth he’d want to return – the jungles of Vietnam.
In Thailand, John Rambo joins a group of mercenaries to venture into war-torn Burma, and rescue a group of Christian aid workers who were kidnapped by the ruthless local infantry unit.
A cryptic message from 007’s past sends him pitted against a mysterious terrorist organization called Spectre, and learns of its involvement in previous events of his most dangerous missions.
A young police officer must prevent a bomb exploding aboard a city bus by keeping its speed above 50 mph.
The Spy Who Loved Me
James Bond investigates the hijacking of British and Russian submarines carrying nuclear warheads, with the help of a K.G.B. Agent, whose lover he killed.
A retired CIA agent travels across Europe and relies on his old skills to save his estranged daughter, who has been kidnapped while on a trip to Paris.
James Bond heads to the Bahamas to recover two nuclear warheads stolen by S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Agent Emilio Largo in an international extortion scheme.
Tomorrow Never Dies
James Bond heads to stop a media mogul’s plan to induce war between China and the UK in order to obtain exclusive global media coverage.
As students at the United States Navy’s elite fighter weapons school compete to be best in the class, one daring young pilot learns a few things from a civilian instructor that are not taught in the classroom.
A View to a Kill
An investigation of a horse-racing scam leads 007 to a mad industrialist who plans to create a worldwide microchip monopoly by destroying California’s Silicon Valley.
The World Is Not Enough
James Bond uncovers a nuclear plot when he protects an oil heiress from her former kidnapper, an international terrorist who can’t feel pain.
Read ScreenCraft’s 65 TV Pilot Scripts That Screenwriters Should Study!
Ken Miyamoto has worked in the film industry for nearly two decades, most notably as a studio liaison for Sony Studios and then as a script reader and story analyst for Sony Pictures.
He has many studio meetings under his belt as a produced screenwriter, meeting with the likes of Sony, Dreamworks, Universal, Disney, Warner Brothers, as well as many production and management companies. He has had a previous development deal with Lionsgate, as well as multiple writing assignments, including the produced miniseries Blackout, starring Anne Heche, Sean Patrick Flanery, Billy Zane, James Brolin, Haylie Duff, Brian Bloom, Eric La Salle, and Bruce Boxleitner. Follow Ken on Twitter @KenMovies