There are adventure films, and then there are adventure-for-survival films. If this is your kind of film, then you should go watch Maze Runner.
It’s got all the ingredients of adrenaline-pumping, youthful adventure and action that you seek. And then after that, you can go watch other best movies like Maze Runner.
The Maze Runner (2014)
Imagine yourself waking up all of a sudden in an environment completely unknown and strange to you. You have no idea where it could possibly be, and neither do you have any recollection of how you could have possibly gotten there.
All of a sudden, you’re thrust into a mad rush of action. It seems you are in the middle of a game, only that the prize is your own survival. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem as fun and exciting as it is, right? Well, fortunately, it’s just a movie, and you don’t have to actually do it yourself.
Instead, you can watch from the safety of the cinemas or your TV screen, as the lead characters struggle to find their wits and strength in order to survive another day.
Unlike Thomas, a teenage boy who finds himself transported in the “Glade,” a vast plot of grassland that also happens to be the arena of this lethal game. He has no idea of who he is or where he came from, only that he woke up inside an underground elevator.
Thomas soon discovers that he is not alone in the Glade, and that there are other young teens like him competing in the game. Very soon, he finds himself rising up the ranks to Runner status, thanks to his unique perspective.
As a Runner, his task is to constantly patrol the ever-changing layout of the maze to find a way for them to escape. He must convince his peers that he’s found a route that will finally lead them outside the Glade.
Maze Runner, which is actually an adaptation of the science fiction by American novelist James Dashner, came out in 2009 to massive success.
It eventually added two more films to the franchise, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015) and Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018).
If you’re done watching the franchise, but would still love to see more of the same action, you can check out some more movies like Maze Runner below.
1. The Hunger Games (2012)
English 2h 22m IMDb
Director: Gary Ross
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
The Hunger Games stars Jennifer Lawrence as 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who volunteers to take the place of her younger sister as their District’s representative in a lethal game of survival.
The film is set in a dystopian future in Panem, a totalitarian nation where The Hunger Games are hosted for entertainment, but also serve as a form of punishment for the 12 Districts’ rebellion in the past.
24 participants take part in the games, fighting to outwit and survive each in a series of challenges Here, Katniss meets Peeta, her male counterpart from another District.
Together, they form an alliance to fight off other stronger, better trained players, to get to the end.
The Hunger Games was a huge box-office success, thanks to the gritty action-adventure storyline it had to offer. The tagline of the games, “May the odds be ever in your favor,” eventually found itself as one of the most popular lines in pop culture.
2. Divergent (2014)
English 2h 19m IMDb
Director: Neil Burger
Stars: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet
Taking on the popularized theme of dystopian futures, Divergent features a society divided into five factions. Each one represents a specific virtue, which is expected to be epitomized by the individuals belonging to that faction.
Teenagers should eventually choose whether to stick to the factions they were born into, or switch to another. Once they make their choice, they will have to live with it for the rest of their lives.
Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) surprises everyone by deciding to switch. What they don’t know, however, is that she holds a secret: she is a Divergent.
Divergents are those born without any clear categorization into any group, and are considered to be a threat to the social order, which is why they are sentenced to Death.
However, she soon realizes that her being Divergent might actually hold the key to saving her loved ones. It offered a strong start to the Trilogy series, thanks to the strong acting and intense action featured in the film.
3. I Am Number Four (2011)
English 1h 51m IMDb
Director: D.J. Caruso
Stars: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Dianna Agron
John Smith, played by Alex Pettyfer, is an ordinary teen who turns out to have extraordinary powers. Because of these abilities, he has to be consistently on the run, avoiding the enemies persistently hounding him, hellbent on his annihilation.
The film banks on the use of high tech effects to highlight John’s powers, making for a very entertaining watch.
The plotline is simple enough to follow, and of course, it wouldn’t be a believable teen adventure movie if there was no love story involved.
This film had this in just the right dose, such that it was enough to complement and provide relief to the action-packed sequences, instead of distracting from the other elements the film has to offer.
4. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013)
English 2h 10m IMDb
Director: Harald Zwart
Stars: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Sheehan
Clary Fary (Lily Collins) is a seemingly ordinary teenager living in New York City. Upon her mom’s disappearance, she discovers that she descended from a long line of demon-fighting warriors.
She soon finds herself immersed in an alternate New York, otherwise known as the Shadow World.
In order to find her mother, she must join the rest of the Shadow Hunters to come face to face and fight against creatures of the other world–vampires, werewolves, demons, and everything in between.
As with other book adaptations, staying true to the essence of the published work is always a challenge when converting it into the film.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, however, was able to effectively derive what was important to the story as a whole, even when certain parts had to be changed for better presentation in the film.
5. Labyrinth (1986)
English 1h 41m IMDb
Director: Jim Henson
Stars: David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly, Toby Froud
Labyrinth is a classic ‘80s film starring Jennifer Connely as the young Sarah, and David Bowie as the infamous Goblin King.
Tasked with babysitting her baby stepbrother Toby, Sarah wishes for him to be taken away when she couldn’t get him to stop crying. Unexpectedly, her wish was granted by the Goblin King, who then takes Toby to his castle in the Goblin City.
Desperate to get Toby back, Sarah makes her way to the castle in the middle of a labyrinth to save him before midnight, otherwise, she will lose him forever. With the help of some unexpected friends, Sarah gives it her all to finally be reunited with Toby.
Labyrinth is considered to be one of the finest classics in modern-day filmmaking, thanks to its use of special effects, considered to be top technology at the time.
The film is also especially entertaining, thanks to Bowie’s iconic portrayal of the Goblin King, as well as the puppets depicting the magical creatures featured in it.
6. The 5th Wave (2016)
English 1h 52m IMDb
Director: J Blakeson
Stars: Chloë Grace Moretz, Matthew Zuk, Gabriela Lopez
The Earth is under attack by extraterrestrial forces. After four consecutive attacks, practically everything is in ruins.
It is said that the fifth attack will be the most devastating–and the last–of all attacks. Teenager Cassie (Chloe Grace Moretz) must run to survive, and save her younger brother.
With human society at its downfall, there is nowhere to turn, and no one is seemingly trustworthy. Along the way, she meets a young man whom she turns to for hope. The question is: can he really be trusted?
The 5th Wave brings on the action scene after scene, with very heavy sci-fi elements working with the alien invasion theme.
The human element of the need to survive at any cost further brings the tension to a whole new level, making the film a truly exciting watch.
7. The Island (2005)
English 2h 16m IMDb
Director: Michael Bay
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Ewan McGregor, Djimon Hounsou
Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) works in a crude facility set in the dystopian future. Essentially working as a slave along with others in that work environment, Lincoln looks forward to getting out eventually.
His ticket to freedom: winning a lottery, which supposedly sends the winner off to The Island, a dreamy paradise where they will be free from the rigid shackles of being a worker at the facility.
Apart from his obsession with winning The Island lottery, Lincoln is also deeply infatuated with Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson).
So when she won the lottery, he couldn’t help but become even more curious. The closer he looks, however, the darker the truth seems to be about this so-called Paradise.
The Island seems to start off slow at first, but then picks up the action masterfully, guiding the audience with a suspenseful buildup along the way.
8. Cube (1997)
English 1h 30m IMDb
Director: Vincenzo Natali
Stars: Nicole de Boer, Maurice Dean Wint, David Hewlett
One giant cube with an endless amount of possible rooms. Six individuals unknown to each other wake up to find themselves trapped inside. Each of them possesses abilities and skills that come in handy as they try to figure out a way.
With different backgrounds and personalities, can they set their differences aside to band together to combine their skills in order to succeed?
This 1997 original version of the cult classic attracted fans of sci-fi, action, horror, and suspense, thanks to its masterful incorporation of these different elements.
Low budget as it may be, Cube delivers a visually enthralling spectacle thanks to its highly imaginative special effects, set design, and props.
Though small, the film found a cult following, leading to the sequels Cube2: Hypercube (2002) and Cube Zero (2004). A Japanese adaptation was also made in 2021.
9. The Host (2013)
English 2h 5m IMDb
Director: Andrew Niccol
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Jake Abel
There’s an invisible enemy taking over human bodies. These unseen bodysnatchers latch onto humans, which serve as the host, so they can survive.
The invasion was swift, fast, and unexpected–a vast majority of the human race is now under the control of this unknown parasite. With only a handful of “wild” humans left untouched, they must stay hidden and scattered if they ever want a chance to win over this invisible force.
However, Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan) suddenly becomes “claimed”, but she refuses to give up her mind. She fights hard to maintain control as much as she can in order to save those that she loves around her.
What looks to be an action-packed sci-fi adventure, however, turns out to be more of an exposition on young romance, fighting to hold on against all odds.
10. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
English 2h IMDb
Director: George Miller
Stars: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult
A post-apocalyptic wasteland is the setting for this R-rated action-adventure, sci-fi story featuring a female rebel. Along with a group of female prisoners, she sets out across the dry and desolate deserts looking for her homeland.
Along the way, she meets a garden variety of characters, who may or may not be able to help her succeed in her quest.
This 2015 iteration of the classic Mad Max franchise made big waves at the box office, thanks largely to the nostalgia and anticipation for this modernized version of the original 1979 film with Mel Gibson.
Not to be swallowed by the light of its predecessor, however, Mad Max: Fury Road proves it can very well stand on its own and bask in its own spotlight.
If you have an insatiable appetite for action-packed films set in dreary, dystopic, post-apocalyptic world environments, then these are some of the best options you can consider watching.
With captivating characters and enthralling storylines, you’ll be on the edge of your seats, clutching your bowl of popcorn.