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 Town (2010)
Run Time: 125 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Ben Affleck writes, directs, and stars in this gritty heist film set in his hometown of Boston. Affleck plays Doug, a master thief planning his greatest, and last heist who becomes distracted by a romantic relationship with a bank manager he met on his last job (Rebecca Hall). As Doug and his crew orchestrate a heist involving Red Sox stadium, a dogged FBI agent played by Jon Hamm closes in.
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. The Old Guard (2020)
Run Time: 125 min | IMDb: 6.7/10
Charlize Theron leads the cast of this inventive take on the traditional comic book movie. She plays an ancient, immortal warrior named Andy who leads a group of mercenaries that have been operating in the shadows for centuries. When the head of a Big Pharma company learns of their existence, he tries to weaponize their ability to cheat death, which causes big problems for the group and its newest member, a former Marine questioning her unique gifts.
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. Triple Frontier (2019)
Run Time: 125 min | IMDb: 6.5/10
Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, and Pedro Pascal play a group a former special ops bros who reunite to take down an infamous cartel kingpin and steal his profits in the process. Isaac and Affleck look to be the leaders of the team, two men fed up with risking their necks for a country that doesn’t look after them once they’re back on home soil, and Isaac’s A Most Violent Year director J.C. Chandor is at the helm, which means a couple of plot twists and some high stakes action are in store.
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. Total Recall (1990)
Run Time: 113 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone star in this 90s sci-fi flick set in 2084 that follows a construction worker named Quaid (Schwarzenegger) who begins having disturbing, memory-like dreams of an alternate life in which he was a spy sent to retrieve a dangerous weapon from colonized Mars. Stone plays Lori, his “wife” who reveals herself to be an agent as well, sent to monitor Quaid who purposefully wiped his memories of the mission to protect the planet’s people. There’s plenty of space travel, explosion, and twisted mind games in this one, but good luck figuring out if it’s all real or just Quaid’s imagination.
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. Jurassic Park (1993)
Run Time: 127 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
The theme song. The dinosaurs. And Jeff Goldblum. Just a few reasons why this sci-fi flick kicks-ass decades after it hit theaters. Steven Spielberg’s adventure epic imagines a different kind of amusement park, one where dinosaurs are the main attraction. Of course, before opening to the public, the billionaire investor of said park invites archeologists and scientists to evaluate how safe it is — for the cloned creatures and future human guests. The answer: not very. There’s a reason this film spawned a hugely successful franchise. In terms of action and world-building, it just doesn’t get any better.
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. Casino Royale (2006)
Run Time: 144 min | IMDb: 8/10
Casino Royale marks Daniel Craig’s first James Bond entry, but he plays the suave MI6 agent like he’s been doing it for decades. The film gives fans of the spy franchise a soft reset, as we’re introduced to the new Bond when he sets off on his first mission as 007. Bond’s tasked with catching a private banker funding terrorist operations by beating him in a high-stakes game of poker in Montenegro, and he’s joined by Vesper Lynd (a terrific Eva Green), an MI6 accountant with a secret that threatens to derail the mission and may cost Bond his life.
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. Inside Man (2006)
Run Time: 129 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
Denzel Washington and Clive Owen face off in this high-stakes bank robbery flick from Spike Lee. Washington plays a police detective negotiating with Owen’s criminal mastermind after his planned heist spirals into a tense hostage situation. Jodie Foster plays a high-powered broker also involved in the f*ck up but the real joy of this movie is in watching Washington try to outsmart a seasoned bad guy who has no qualms about killing innocents.
Recent Changes Through September 2020:
Removed: V For Vendetta, Bad Boys
Added: Inside Man, Casino Royale