5. Minority Report (2002): Like Total Recall, this futuristic man-on-the-run film is based on a Philip K. Dick story. Directed by Steven Spielberg, this one stars Tom Cruise as a cop who arrests people for future crimes they might not even know they're going to commit, until he finds himself implicated and on the lam. I'm not sure how great the mystery plotting is — I don't remember it very well, at least — but the action pacing and futuristic visual design are first-rate.
4. High Sierra (1941): Humphrey Bogart's first significant lead role was in this crime flick from director Raoul Walsh. Bogart is “Mad Dog Roy Earle,” a recently released convict who agrees to head up a new heist job that goes awry. Famous for the climactic, on-location chase as the police corner Roy up in the mountains.
3. The Bourne Identity (2002): Any of the Bourne movies would be a worthy entry on the list, but the first — with Matt Damon emerging an amnesiac and almost instantly on the run — probably best fits the topic. Arguably the best contemporary action franchise — both an update and a corrective to the more hollow James Bond ideal.
2. The Fugitive (1993): Probably the purest example of the genre. A two-hour-long chase, with Tommy Lee Jones' scenery-chewing U.S. marshal on the trail of Harrison Ford's harried but resourceful escapee, out to prove he was wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife. Might hold up to repeat viewings better than any modern, mainstream thriller.
1. North By Northwest (1959): Alfred Hitchcock's action/thriller classic — a model for modern iterations of the genre that have never once surpassed it — stars Cary Grant as a New York ad exec mistaken for a secret agent and chased across the country by shadowy forces. Features two of action-cinema's classic set pieces — Grant getting chased through a corn field by a crop duster and a climactic chase on Mt. Rushmore. Also some of the movies' best train scenes.