The Best Action Movie Presidents

The best action movie Presidents include turns from Harrison Ford, Bill Pullman, and of course, Morgan Freeman

By Rick Gonzales | Updated

Always better than real life, movies have given audiences great Presidents. We’ve seen Daniel Day-Lewis take on Lincoln and Sir Anthony Hopkins become Richard Nixon. We have also seen Michael Douglas become The American President while Kevin Kline was simply Dave.

Some movie presidents are more than just talk, though. They are action movie Presidents who kick ass and take names if push comes to shove.

When push comes to shove, and your country is on the line, these are the best action movie presidents of all time…

The Best Action Movie Presidents

James Marshall | Harrison Ford

Air Force One (1997)

Harrison Ford does Harrison Ford things as one of the best action movie presidents in this 1997 action thriller, only this time he does it as the most powerful man in the world, the President of the United States. Air Force One finds President James Marshall on board Air Force One with his wife, his daughter, and a large number of his cabinet.

Enter Gary Oldman, who is a great bad guy in this film, as Egor Korshunov, a radical terrorist who, along with his crew of baddies, has made their way onto Air Force One and has taken over.

Their goal is to get dictator, General Ivan Radek (Jürgen Prochnow) released from prison, by any means necessary, including murdering the president. The only problem is, Harrison Ford is the president, and he plans to fight back.

Benjamin Asher | Aaron Eckhart

Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

London Has Fallen (2016)

2013’s Olympus Has Fallen was set up to be a Gerard Butler actioner, which it is, that tells the story of Butler’s Mike Banning, a secret Service Agent who just happens to be good friends with President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and his family.

As the film begins, though, we see Banning having to rescue the President and the First Lady from an icy bridge that is ready to drop over the side. Banning is able to get the President in time, but the First Lady falls to her death.

Fast forward 18 months and Banning is no longer on presidential detail. He is called back into action when North Korean guerillas attack the White House, and he is needed to rescue the president. But what Banning also finds out during his rescue is that President Asher can hold his own as well as he becomes one of the best action movie Presidents.

President Thomas J. Whitmore | Bill Pullman

Independence Day (1996)

How can you not love Bill Pullman as the President of the United States? In Independence Day, not only is Pullman the President, but he is also an ex-Navy pilot, a skill that will be necessary to fight off the alien invasion and help Pullman become one of the best action movie Presidents.

Pullman stars alongside Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Vivica A. Fox, Randy Quaid, and Judd Hirsch in a film about aliens setting up shop at various large city locations across the globe with the single intent of taking over Earth. Pullman and company decide it is time to fight back and as President Whitmore, he leads the charge.

President James Sawyer | Jamie Foxx

White House Down (2013)

It takes Jamie Foxx’s President James Sawyer a little bit of time and a whole lot of danger to finally get him to realize that he has the skills to fight back, but eventually, he does.

All of this comes when a terrorist assault on the White House turns a US Capitol Police officer (Channing Tatum) into a one-man wrecking crew on his way to not only save the President. And he also needs to save his daughter, who is somewhere inside the White House when the action begins.

Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Richard Jenkins, and James Woods join Foxx and Tatum in an explosive action film that has our “president” fighting back and fighting to become the best action movie President. It’s a good thing he has Channing Tatum to help him.

President William Alan Moore | Samuel L. Jackson

Big Game (2014)

When Air Force One is shot down by terrorists, Samuel L. Jackson steps into the best action movie President role as President William Alan Moore, who finds himself stranded in the wilderness of Finland. At the same time, a 13-year-old boy is out on a hunting mission with designs to prove his manhood by tracking down a deer on his own. Instead, what he finds is the escape pod with the President inside.

Together, the President and the young boy must use what they can to avoid the terrorists who are hot on their trail. Ray Stevenson, Victor Garber, Felicity Huffman, and Ted Levine also star. It isn’t the team-up that one would expect with a Samuel L. Jackson film, but it is one that ultimately works.

President John Harker | Donald Pleasence

best action movie president

Escape from New York (1981)

Escape from New York was an immediate cult classic that has aged quite well (although there is a rumor a remake is being considered). This one finds convict and ex-soldier Snake Plissken the opportunity for a pardon if he will go into New York, where the entire walled city has been turned into a maximum security prison. He needs to rescue President John Harker (Pleasence) whose Air Force One has crashed inside.

The movie mainly follows Plissken and how he is able to get into, then around the prison, but once he finally catches up to President Harker, we get to see Harker fight back in his attempt to “escape” from New York.

President Ashton | William Hurt

best action movie president

Vantage Point (2008)

Vantage Point stars William Hurt as President Henry Ashton and tells the story of an assassination attempt on his life while he is in Salamanca, Spain. Often compared to Kurosawa’s Rashomon, as the story is told from multiple points of view. As the different points of view are presented, audiences begin to see the hidden truth.

The action is minimal for Hurt but enough to consider this role as one of the best action movie president roles. Hurt is joined by Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, and Sigourney Weaver.

President Allan Trumbull | Morgan Freeman

best action movie president

Angel Has Fallen (2019)

Angel Has Fallen is the third time that Morgan Freeman has starred in the series as Allan Trumbull. This time, he gets his best action movie president badge as he has been elected as President of the United States. The film once again stars Gerard Butler as Mike Banning, who always seems to be in the right place at the wrong time.

This time, we find Banning protecting President Trumbull while the president is on a private fishing trip at Queen’s Lake in Virginia. When a drone attack occurs, Banning is able to save the president while all others in the protection detail perish. It is time for Banning to react, with a little bit of help from the president.

President Tom Beck | Morgan Freeman

best action movie president

Deep Impact (1998)

Deep Impact was actually the first time that Morgan Freeman played the President of the United States. This one is more of a disaster film than anything and tells the story of a seven-mile-wide comet that is on its way to collide with Earth, causing mass extinction.

Freeman plays President Tom Beck, who must first try to find a way to knock the comet off course, and when that fails, he is the one to tell the world that the comet, which has now been split into two fragments, will still hit the Earth.

President Elizabeth Lanford | Sela Ward

best action movie president

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

The aliens are back and looking to make up for their failed attempt to take over Earth. Most of the stellar cast from Independence Day (1996) is back in action that sees the return of the aliens, who are hell-bent on making up for lost time.

Although Bill Pullman is back as Thomas Whitmore, he is now the ex-President, so Sela Ward, who was also in the first film, has taken over as President Elizabeth Lanford. Joining Ward and Pullman are once again Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch, Vivica A. Foxx along with alien newbies Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T. Usher, and William Fichtner.