20 Best Mel Gibson Movies of All Time

Mel Gibson is not only a great actor, but he is also a fantastic director. He has achieved greatness on both paths. The following list is the compilation of the best Mel Gibson movies as an actor. His accomplishments as a director will be discussed on another occasion.

During the 80s and 90s, he was one of the biggest movie stars in the world. Gibson is best known for his roles in the Lethal Weapon film series, Mad Max trilogy, and Braveheart. Interestingly, his biggest box office successes (both as an actor and as a director) are from the 2000s decade with What Women Want and Signs. In recent years, he has made some pretty good movies like Get the Gringo (2012) and Blood Father (2016).

Let’s take a look at the list of the 20 best Mel Gibson movies in a lead role, ordered by release date:

1. Mad Max (1979)

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Director: George Miller
Starring: Mel Gibson (23)

In dystopian Australia, the roads are ruled by gangs of maniacs who would do anything for gasoline and scrap. When a gang of bikers kills Max’s partner, wife, and child, Max decides to take revenge and put an end to the reign of bandits once and for all. Max, who is a highway patrol policeman, has no idea what he is getting into until he chases down the murderer who goes by the name Knight Rider.

Created with a very small budget, the first movie in the Mad Max series earned more than $100 million and made Mel Gibson known worldwide.

2. The Road Warrior (1981)

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Director: George Miller
Starring: Mel Gibson (25)

Once a police officer and now a road warrior, Max travels through the Australian wasteland trying to survive and searching for fuel. He finds himself to be the only hope for a group of survivors who have a small remote oil refinery and are being attacked by gangs.

This is the second movie in the Mad Max series, also known as Mad Max 2. According to major review sites, this is the best Mel Gibson movie.

3. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Directors: George Miller, George Ogilvie
Starring: Mel Gibson (29), Tina Turner (46)

This is the third and final movie in Mel Gibson’s Mad Max trilogy. Robbed by a duo of a father and son, Max finds himself in a town known as Bartertown, a trading post in dystopian Australia. The town is ruled by an Aunt Entity who forces Max to fight on her behalf against a fighter called Thunderdome. Max is then thrown into the desert where he is rescued by a group of children. With their help, he returns to Bartertown where he has a score to settle.

4. Lethal Weapon (1987)

Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Director: Richard Donner
Starring: Mel Gibson (31), Danny Glover (41), Gary Busey (43)

The story revolves around two L.A. cops with completely opposite personalities working together to solve a murder mystery. Roger Murtaugh is a sensible man, a little old and taking one day at a time, while Martin Riggs is a crazy police officer who does not care about his life and jumps into danger at the brink. The incompatible partners uncover a dangerous ring of drug smugglers that employs ex-military mercenaries.

The role of Martin Riggs in the Lethal Weapon movie series is our personal favorite Mel Gibson role. This is the first movie in what will become one of the best action-comedy movie franchises of all time. It’s one of those movie series that you can constantly watch. Lethal Weapon movies are timeless, and nobody beats Martin Riggs.

5. Tequila Sunrise (1988)

Genre: Crime, Drama, Romance
Director: Robert Towne
Starring: Mel Gibson (32), Michelle Pfeiffer (30), Kurt Russell (37)

Mel Gibson plays a drug dealer who wishes to go straight. His best friend, Nick Frescia, is a cop. Nick is given the case of Mac, and he is asked to uncover and put an end to the drug dealer’s business. In his desperate attempts to stop Mac, Nick gets in touch with Jo Ann, the lady love of his best friend. He tries to extract information about Mac’s drug business and his relationships with a Mexican drug lord, only to end up falling for the woman and jeopardizing his friendship with Mac.

6. Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Director: Richard Donner
Starring: Mel Gibson (33), Danny Glover (43), Joe Pesci (46)

It’s the second installment of the Lethal Weapon film series. In this one, Roger Murtaugh and Martin Riggs chase down a BMW that crashes, and several million dollars in Krugerrands are spilled on the road. This is a lot of money for any drug dealer, and that is when the police officers know that they are in trouble. Running behind the drug dealers, they uncover a huge drug business that involves heavy arms, helicopters, and South African diplomats who are clever, evil, and must be punished.

7. Bird on a Wire (1990)

Genre: Action, Comedy
Director: John Badham
Starring: Mel Gibson (34), Goldie Hawn (45), David Carradine (54)

After helping the FBI in convicting an FBI agent suspected of being a drug dealer, Rick is given a new identity to live peacefully. Fifteen years later, his fiancée finds out that her ex-boyfriend was an FBI undercover agent. Rick’s FBI minder has been replaced by a corrupt agent who helps the FBI agent in tracking down Rick. All of this leads to a lot of high-paced action and a series of chases, ultimately leading Rick and his girlfriend to revisit their past.

If you haven’t watched this comedy, you definitely should.

8. Lethal Weapon 3 (1992)

Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Director: Richard Donner
Starring: Mel Gibson (36), Danny Glover (46), Joe Pesci (49)

The third and most successful blockbuster in the Lethal Weapon movie series, grossing over $320 million worldwide.

Martin Riggs meets the perfect woman, Lorna Cole, who also happens to be a fellow police officer. She is tough, beautiful, and blows Martin’s mind. Martin, Roger, and Lorna must now work together to expose yet another corrupt police officer, Jack Travis, and his illegal arms business. The crooked police officer is determined to kill anyone who stands in his way, and the trio must stop him.

9. Maverick (1994)

Genre: Comedy, Adventure
Director: Richard Donner
Starring: Mel Gibson (38), Jodie Foster (32), James Garner (66)

Bret Maverick is as skilled with a gun as he is with a deck of cards on a poker table. However, he believes in deception rather than shooting, and that’s how he settles his fights. A big poker tournament is coming up, and he needs $3,000 to enter the competition.

This awesome comedy stars Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster at their best.

10. Braveheart (1995)

Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Director: Mel Gibson
Starring: Mel Gibson (39), Sophie Marceau (29)

William Wallace was a thirteenth-century Scottish warrior who changed the course of the country forever. Braveheart is a movie that shows how Wallace rallies amateur fighters and sets out on a mission to drive the English army led by Edward I out of Scotland. The warriors are strong, motivated, and ready to shed blood at Wallace’s call to reclaim their freedom. The road to liberty is not easy, and it demands bloodshed.

This is one of Mel Gibson’s best roles, and with an 8.3 rating and over 900,000 votes, it’s his highest-rated movie on IMDb for a reason.

11. Ransom (1996)

Genre: Crime, Thriller
Director: Ron Howard
Starring: Mel Gibson (40), Gary Sinise (41), Rene Russo (42)

Tom Mullen is a family man who has worked hard to earn his current status and wealth. However, things turn ugly when his son is kidnapped. Mullen loves him and wants him back. He is ready to pay the ransom but involves the FBI just to be sure. On his way to pay the ransom, the kidnapper changes the plan and reschedules the deal. Angry, Mullen decides to change his plan and goes live on TV, announcing the ransom as a bounty on the kidnapper.

12. Conspiracy Theory (1997)

Genre: Action, Mystery, Thriller
Director: Richard Donner
Starring: Mel Gibson (41), Julia Roberts (30)

Jerry Fletcher has fallen for a woman whom he has only seen from afar. She works for the government, which is exactly what keeps Fletcher away from her. Fletcher is a critic who has conspiracy theories for everything. However, he finds himself in the middle of a feud one day when one of his theories turns out to be accurate. Now, some people want him killed, and the only person he trusts is the woman he loves.

13. Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)

Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Director: Richard Donner
Starring: Mel Gibson (42), Danny Glover (52), Joe Pesci (55), Rene Russo (44)

Riggs and Murtaugh have grown old and find it difficult to continue what they are best at. However, it’s time to team up once again and stop the Chinese triads from conducting their illegal business in the country. They are joined by a new cop (Chris Rock) who helps the duo in stopping Jet Li and his Chinese triad from printing fake money in the USA, which was intended to buy the four fathers back from the Chinese military.

14. Payback (1999)

Genre: Action, Crime
Director: Brian Helgeland
Starring: Mel Gibson (43), Gregg Henry (47), Maria Bello (32)

Porter is an ex-marine who is betrayed by an ex-partner and shot by a crazy wife in the back. Nevertheless, he is now back and wants his cut from the robbery of an Asian Crime Gang. Unfortunately, the fortune has been acquired by a dangerous gang, The Outfit, that runs the city. Porter will have to make his way through a world filled with crime, prostitution, lawlessness, drugs, and cops. His only friend is a prostitute who now works for The Outfit. This is not going to be a cakewalk.

15. The Patriot (2000)

Genre: War, Drama, History
Director: Roland Emmerich
Starring: Mel Gibson (44), Heath Ledger (21), Joely Richardson (35)

The French-Indian war hero Benjamin Martin is haunted by his past and wants to live a peaceful life. He lives on a plantation, away from city life and trouble. However, things change quickly when his eldest son Gabriel signs up for the Continental Army without his father’s permission. When South Carolina decides to join the rebellion against Great Britain, Colonel William Tavington burns down Martin’s plantation.

16. What Women Want (2000)

Genre: Comedy, Romance
Director: Nancy Meyers
Starring: Mel Gibson (44), Helen Hunt (37), Marisa Tomei (36)

A hotshot advertising executive, Nick, finds himself in a gray area when a fluke accident gives him the ability to listen to what women think. At first, he thinks this is a curse and wants to get rid of it, but then a crazy psychologist tells him how this can be turned into an advantage. Nick’s first victim is a colleague, Darcy McGuire, who got the promotion that Nick had been eyeing for a while.

This comedy was a huge box office success, grossing over $374 million.

17. We Were Soldiers (2002)

Genre: War, Drama, History
Director: Randall Wallace
Starring: Mel Gibson (46), Madeleine Stowe (44)

From the perspective of the battalion commander, this is the story of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division’s battle in the La Drang Valley of Vietnam in 1965. The movie shows how the commander prepares for Vietnam, the war, and the first major conflict between the USA and the NVA forces. It highlights the use of helicopters as a means of mobility and anti-aircraft assault.

18. Edge of Darkness (2010)

Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Director: Martin Campbell
Starring: Mel Gibson (54)

When a successful detective from Boston finds that his daughter has been murdered, numerous questions engulf his mind. He soon realizes that the murder of his daughter is just a small part of a larger conspiracy. Determined to solve the puzzle, he strives to uncover all the corrupt individuals involved in the elaborate scheme.

19. Get the Gringo (2012)

Genre: Crime, Action
Director: Adrian Grunberg
Starring: Mel Gibson (56)

In a desperate attempt to flee the country, a getaway driver, disguised as a clown, along with his friend and two million dollars in the trunk, crashes the car into the heavily fortified border wall of Mexico. Sadly, the friend dies instantly, and the driver is apprehended by a pair of Mexican officers who seize all the money and send the driver to the infamous El Pueblito prison. In jail, the driver swiftly earns the moniker ‘The Gringo’ and soon discovers the harsh realities of living in a correctional facility that resembles a small convict village.

20. Blood Father (2016)

Genre: Crime, Thriller
Director: Jean-François Richet
Starring: Mel Gibson (60)

An ex-convict, now a tattoo artist, who struggles daily to maintain sobriety, finds himself in turmoil when he receives a desperate call from his 17-year-old daughter. He reunites with her and endeavors to rescue her from the clutches of the Mexican drug cartel. The high-speed action and intense fights serve as a stark reminder of the ex-convict’s past, but his paternal duties guide him through the challenges.

In this film, Mel Gibson portrays a tough guy despite being 60 years old, showcasing his enduring capability.

We hope that you enjoy our list of the best Mel Gibson movies. If you are planning a Mel Gibson movie marathon in the future, you know where to find a reminder.

15 Best Mel Gibson Movies According to IMDb

According to IMDb, these are the top 15 Mel Gibson movies where he takes the lead role:

  • Braveheart (1995) – 8.3
  • Lethal Weapon (1987) – 7.6
  • Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) – 7.6
  • Gallipoli (1981) – 7.4
  • The Professor and the Madman (2019) – 7.3
  • The Patriot (2000) – 7.2
  • Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) – 7.2
  • We Were Soldiers (2002) – 7.2
  • Payback (1999) – 7.1
  • The Year of Living Dangerously (1982) – 7.1
  • Get the Gringo (2012) – 7.0
  • Maverick (1994) – 7.0
  • Dragged Across Concrete (2018) – 7.0
  • The Bounty (1984) – 7.0
  • Mad Max (1979) – 6.9

15 Best Mel Gibson Movies According to Box Office

  • Signs (2002) – $408 million
  • What Women Want (2000) – $374 million
  • Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) – $322 million
  • Ransom (1996) – $310 million
  • Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) – $285 million
  • Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) – $228 million
  • The Patriot (2000) – $215 million
  • Braveheart (1995) – $210 million
  • Maverick (1994) – $183 million
  • Payback (1999) – $162 million
  • Bird on a Wire (1990) – $138 million
  • Conspiracy Theory (1997) – $137 million
  • Forever Young (1992) – $128 million
  • Lethal Weapon (1987) – $120 million
  • We Were Soldiers (2002) – $115 million

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