Last Updated: May 14th
The term “action movie” runs the spectrum of CGI explosion-filled spectacles and highly choreographed fight scenes to movies with heroes who deliver cheesy one-liners right before the last rocket-powered grenade is fired. It can mean shutting your brain off, or it can mean complex stories that use action to benefit the plot.
Luckily, Netflix has most subgenres covered when it comes to good action films, whether you want kung fu, superhero-ing, or anything in between. Here are the 20 best action movies on Netflix streaming right now, so grab some popcorn and enjoy.
1. The Matrix (1999)
Run Time: 136 min | IMDb: 8.7/10
The Wachowski sisters created one of the greatest sci-fi films in cinematic history with their mind-bending Matrix trilogy, but the original is hard to top. Keanu Reeves plays Neo, a young man unplugged from the matrix — a kind of alternate reality that keeps humans docile, so machines can harvest their life energy. He teams up with a band of rebels fighting the machines (Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus and Carrie-Ann Moss as Trinity) and faces off against a henchman named Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). The real draw of this trilogy, besides its inventive storyline, is the CGI effects. The movie also sports some of the most imaginative fight sequences you’ll ever see on the big screen.
2. Extraction (2020)
Run Time: 116 min | IMDb: 6.8/10
Chris Hemsworth gets back in the action with this Russo brothers-produced crime flick about a black market mercenary who accepts a deadly mission that throws him into the chaotic underworld of weapons dealers and drug traffickers. Hemsworth’s antihero type doesn’t mind doing bad sh*t for good money, but when he sells his skills to an imprisoned international crime lord who tasks him with rescuing his kidnapped son, the job quickly spirals into a life-threatening race against the clock. There’s a reason we dubbed this movie a “smorgasbord of pure ass-kicking” guys. Trust us, the fight sequences are insane.
3. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018)
Run Time: 117 min | IMDb: 8.5/10
The Oscar-winning animated film is making its way to Netflix this summer, which means if you didn’t get a chance to see it in theaters, you no longer have to wonder what all the hype is about. The story follows a young kid named Miles, who becomes the web-slinging hero of his reality, only to cross paths with other iterations of Spider-Man across different dimensions that help him defeat a threat posed to all realities. Mahershala Ali, John Mulaney, and Jake Johnson make up the film’s talented voice cast, but it’s the striking visuals and daring story-telling technique that really serves the film well.
4. Minority Report (2002)
Run Time: 145 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
Steven Spielberg is the genius behind this mind-bending futuristic crime drama starring Tom Cruise and Colin Farrell. Cruise plays John Anderton, a police chief in charge of a unit capable of arresting criminals before they commit their crimes thanks to a trio of psychics called “precogs.” When Anderton is identified as a future murderer, he goes on the run with one of the precogs and uncovers a deeper conspiracy that forces him (and us) to question the nature of free will.
5. Defiance (2008)
Run Time: 137 min | IMDb: 7.2/10
Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, and Jamie Bell star in this war drama based on a true story about a trio of brothers who lead a group of Jewish refugees to freedom during World War II. The Bieliski brothers rescue Jews from the Ghetto before they’re sent to concentration camps, fleeing deep into the Belarussian forests as the Nazi’s invade Eastern Europe. Craig’s Tuvia builds a community there, teaching the people how to fight and survive while Shreiber’s Zus joins a group of Russian resistance fighters. Their harrowing journey to freedom doesn’t happen until the end of the film, but it’s worth sticking around to see.
6. Inception (2010)
Run Time: 148 min | IMDb: 8.8/10
Christopher Nolan’s imaginative sci-fi adventure will most likely be remembered as one of the best genre films in cinematic history, and for good reason. The movie — which stars everyone from Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy to Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Cillian Murphy, and Michael Caine — is the ultimate heist flick, following a group of thieves who must repurpose dream-sharing technology to plant an idea into the mind of a young CEO. DiCaprio pulls focus as Cobb, a troubled architect with a tragic past who attempts to pull off the impossible so that he can return to his family.
7. Snowpiercer (2013)
Run Time: 126 min | IMDb: 7.1/10
Chris Evans stars in this sci-fi thriller from auteur Bong Joon-ho. The film, set years into the future following a devastating ice age caused by mankind, follows Evans’ Curtis who lives in poverty on a train that continuously circles the Earth and contains all that remains of human life. Curtis is part of the “scum” that the people relegated to the back of the train while the “elite” enjoy the privilege of wealth and status that comes with living in the front. Curtis sparks a rebellion that ends in bloodshed and a devastating reveal when he makes it to the train’s engine room and discovers just how the elite have been fueling their operation. It’s a dark, grimy action piece that should give fans a new appreciation for Evans’ talent.
8. Cloverfield (2008)
Run Time: 85 min | IMDb: 7/10
Disappointing sequels aside, the original installment in J.J. Abrams’ Cloverfield trilogy remains one of the greatest works of found-footage in the history of film. Most of that is because the narrative style lends itself to the tension, chaos, and horror of fleeing a monster destroying New York City. The film follows a group of friends caught in the bedlam after a Godzilla-like creature begins attacking the Big Apple. While trying to save each other and make it out of the city before the bombs drop, the friends document their journey. The directing by Matt Reeves is superb, almost too good, because you often feel a part fo the action, for better and worse.
9. Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
Run Time: 99 min | IMDb: 7.8/10
The early aughts action-comedy borrows elements from famous Kung Fu films of the ’70s and pairs them with a completely ridiculous plot and some impressive cartoon-style fight sequences to produce a wholly original flick that we guarantee you’ll marvel at. The film follows the exploits of two friends, Sing and Bone, who impersonate gang members in the hopes of joining a gang themselves and inadvertently strike up a gang war that nearly destroys the slums of the city. Of course, the real draw here is the absurdist, over-the-top comedy that takes place during some of the film’s biggest action sequences. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, but only if you check your brain at the door.
10. Django Unchained (2012)
Run Time: 164 min | IMDb: 8.4/10
Another Quentin Tarantino classic, this violent visit back in time to America’s era of slavery carries major Western vibes and gives Lenoard DiCaprio a refreshing turn as the film’s big bad, a plantation owner named Calvin Candie. Tarantino favorite Christoph Waltz plays a German bounty hunter who teams up with Jamie Foxx’s Django, a former slave looking to free his wife (Kerry Washington) from Candie’s clutches. There’s a lot of gore and uncomfortable dialogue and over-the-top action, really, everything you’d expect, but DiCaprio, Waltz, and Foxx make it all worth it.
11. Sin City (2005)
Run Time: 124 min | IMDb: 8/10
Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez team up for this stylish crime thriller drowning in corruption, comic book references, and A-list actors playing varying degrees of anti-hero. Based on the first, third, and fourth books in Miller’s original series, the film jumps between three different stories all set in the seedy underworld of Basin City. Bruce Willis plays an aging police officer framed for crimes he didn’t commit and who must protect a young woman he’s come to love. Clive Owen plays a vigilante who protects prostitutes from bad guys. And Mickey Rourke plays a man seeking revenge for the death of his lover. It’s a lot of action and bloodshed, all done in Miller’s signature tone and Rodriguez’ recognizable flair.
12. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Run Time: 153 min | IMDb: 8.3/10
Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Christoph Waltz, and Eli Roth star in Quentin Tarantino’s imaginative World War II drama about a group of Jewish U.S. soldiers with a plan to assassinate Hitler. The film flip-flops between Pitt’s Southern-accented Lt. Aldo Raine’s mission to scalp Nazis and blow-up an exclusive event for SS officers in Paris and French actress Melanie Laurent, who plays a theater-owner with a devious plan of her own. It’s full of mesmerizing performances and Tarantino’s unique brand of humor — oh, and a lot of Nazi killing.
13. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010)
Run Time: 112 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Edgar Wright’s 2010 action comedy about a hapless boy, who must defeat evil ex-boyfriends in order to win the hand of the girl he loves, is a fast-paced ride that bombards the senses. Michael Cera plays a loveable goof in the titular hero, a young man enamored with a woman named Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). In order to be with his lady love, Scott takes on her exes (six guys, one girl) that challenge him to truly strange contests. The film is a cinematic mash-up of Japanese anime and gamer culture, intended for the crowd who grew up on Nintendo and comic books, but it brings plenty of overall laughs all the same.
14. Haywire (2011)
Run Time: 93 min | IMDb: 5.8/10
There’s a plot to Haywire, one that focuses on a black ops super soldier, set up by her organization, who goes on a revenge mission that ends in chaos and bloodshed. But really, the only thing you need to know about this movie is that it’s a showcase for Gina Carano to kick the wimpy a**es of various bad guys played by Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, and Channing Tatum.
15. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Run Time: 127 min | IMDb: 8.2/10
Set fives years after Temple of Doom, The Last Crusade marks Indiana Jones’ journey to rescue and reunite with his estranged father, a historian who goes missing after searching for the Holy Grail. Harrison Ford returns to play the swashbuckling archeologist while Sean Connery — most famous for his role as James Bond at the time — plays Indy’s absentee father. Most of the fun in this film can be chalked up to the pair’s chemistry. Indy and his dad don’t get along and their bickering, even as they’re avoiding assassins and tracking down ancient relics, is played up for laughs, rightly so.
16. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)
This classic Western starring Clint Eastwood follows the adventures of a stiff-lipped bounty hunter, a sociopathic mercenary, and a fast-talking Mexican bandit. The trio is connected by a grave full of gold, a few near executions, and a lot of bad blood. Highway robberies, assassination attempts, and a famous Mexican standoff make this a worthy entry on the action flicks list, plus it’s one of Eastwood’s most iconic roles.
17. Bad Boys (1995)
Run Time: 119 min | IMDb: 6.9/10
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence star in this foul-mouthed buddy comedy film as two detectives tasked with protecting a witness while investigating a case of stolen heroin from their own precinct’s evidence storage facility. Marcus (Lawrence) and Mike (Smith) have been friends since childhood and are now working the beat together in Miami. When $100 million of heroin goes missing from their unit’s storage facility, they’re sent to track down who might have taken it before Internal Affairs intercedes. Smith and Lawrence have an easy, lived-in chemistry that really sells this thing, and the action’s not too bad either.
18. Underworld (2003)
Run Time: 121 min | IMDb: 7/10
We have this movie to thank for putting Kate Beckinsale, and her skin-tight catsuit, on the map. The story follows Beckinsale’s Selene, a centuries-old death dealer, who’s gotten pretty good at killing off Lycans, which are currently at war with vampires. When a human is brought into the mix, Selene ends up uncovering the truth about the feud between species and starts kicking ass for her own pleasure. No one can wield two glocks while also doing acrobatic somersaults like Beckinsale, y’all.
19. Ip Man (2008)
Run Time: 106 min | IMDb: 8/10
In a town filled with aspiring martial artists, the best of the best is Ip Man, a father and husband who just wants to keep his quiet way of life even in the midst of the Japanese occupation of China. In discovering that sometimes fighting is the only way to keep the peace, Ip inspires many by taking a stand during war-torn times. As a subtle reflection on war mixed with a healthy dose of fast-paced, mesmerizing combat, Ip Man is actually based on the real life of Yip Man, the grand master who trained Bruce Lee.
20. V For Vendetta (2005)
Run Time: 132 min | IMDb: 8.2/10
This comic book-inspired dystopian drama is about more than just mind-blowing fight sequences and compared to some others on this list, the action isn’t as prevalent. Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving are trying to incite a rebellion against a fascist authoritarian regime, so clearly, they’re going to need more than car chases and shootouts to get the job done. But when the action does come — normally from Weaving’s V, an acrobatically-gifted anarchist with dreams of toppling a corrupt government by way of bombing Parliament — it’s some of the best you’ll see on screen.
Recent Changes Through June 2020:
Removed: Equilibrium, Once Upon A Time In The West
Added: V for Vendetta, Django Unchained