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The Best Action Movies on Netflix Right Now (April 2021) | Digital Trends

Who doesn’t love an adrenaline-pumping action film from time to time? Sure, we don’t want those fate-of-the-world stakes on our shoulders, but we sure do enjoy watching other people deal with them! Netflix has an awesome collection of classic and contemporary action flicks, both original and not. Finding one to watch, however, can be sort of like the opposite of an action movie. To help you cut through the noise, we’ve put together a list of the best action movies on Netflix.

We’ve also curated a guide to the best action movies on Amazon Prime, if you’re looking for additional recommendations.

Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

It may be dumb, but it’s fun enough that it’s spawned an entire franchise. When highly trained terrorists launch a bold daytime attack on the White House, the building is overrun and President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and his staff are taken hostage. Fortunately, former presidential security officer Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) happens to be in the area. Now, Banning must locate Asher’s son before the terrorists do and rescue the president before the master plan can come to bear. No, it’s not original, but it’ll keep you entertained.

Rotten Tomatoes: 49%
Stars: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Rating:
R
Runtime:
120 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Scott Adkins and Louis Mandylor in The Debt Collector

The Debt Collector (2018)

A broke martial arts instructor takes a side gig as a debt collector for the mob in this zany action flick that might as well be an advertisement to get kids into MMA. Nonetheless, it’s a good time as the martial artist and his mob-appointed thug partner spend the weekend forcibly collecting debts and having silly amounts of fun doing it.

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Stars: Scott Adkins, Louis Mandylor, Michael Paré
Director: Jesse V. Johnson
Rating:
R
Runtime:
120 minutes

Watch on Netflix

The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight (2008)

Considered one of the greatest superhero films ever made, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight is the magnum opus of his Batman trilogy. More than simply an action movie, The Dark Knight is a psychologically-jarring and philosophical epic propelled by a brilliant script and several extraordinary performances (none more so than Heath Ledger’s Joker.) With help from the Batman, Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) have cleaned up the streets of Gotham City and dealt a massive blow to organized crime. But when a chaos agent calling himself the Joker emerges from the shadows, all of their hard work threatens to be undone overnight. As Batman is forced into action, he’ll have to wage a war within himself to refrain from becoming the villain he fears lives within him. The first film of Christian Bale’s turn as the Caped Crusader, Batman Begins, is also up on Netflix this month.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Stars: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart
Director: Christopher Nolan
Rating:
PG-13
Runtime:
152 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Machete Kills

Machete Kills (2013)

Let’s get this out of the way: Machete Kills is not Die Hard. This isn’t a seminal, provocative action film by any means, but if you’re looking for pure entertainment, few action heroes bring the chaos quite like Danny Trejo’s machete-wielding ex-Federale Machete. When POTUS has to take down Voz (Mel Gibson), a madman revolutionary and billionaire arms dealer who is plotting to start a nuclear war, there’s only one man he can trust: Machete. Voz’s assassins are on Machete from the jump, and he’ll have to use every ounce of his cunning and brutality to get the job done.

Rotten Tomatoes: 29%
Stars: Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, Mel Gibson
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Rating:
R
Runtime:
107 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Django Unchained

Django Unchained (2010)

American slavery gets the Quentin Tarantino treatment in this delightfully gory, sadistic portrayal of slavery and the almost comically villainous people who perpetuated it. Two years before the Civil War, Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave, stumbles into the path of an unorthodox German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) who is on a mission to capture the vicious, slave-driving Brittle brothers. After a successful mission, the bounty hunter frees Django, who decides to stay with his new friend to hunt the South’s most-wanted criminals. Along the way, Django seeks his long-lost wife, a journey that eventually leads him to the plantation of the infamously brutal Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Stars: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Rating: 
R
Runtime: 
165 minutes

Watch on Netflix

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series took the world by storm in the mid-aughts. After a Swedish film adaptation, David Fincher took this crack at an American version that treats the first novel of the series as a stand-alone story. While it’s not strictly an action movie, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has enough pulse-pounding thrills and suspense (as well as some explicit action scenes) to satisfy the adrenaline junkie. Daniel Craig stars as disgraced financial reporter Mikael Blomkvist who is given a chance to redeem his reputation after being hired by wealthy Swedish industrialist Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to solve the decades-old murder of Vanger’s niece. Vanger believes the girl was murdered by a member of his own family. To uncover the truth, Blomkvist enlists the help of unusual hacker and genius investigator Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara).

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Stars: Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer
Director: David Fincher
Rating:
R
Runtime: 
158 minutes

Watch on Netflix

The King, best action movies on Netflix

The King (2019)

For those who prefer their action with a more historical bent, The King is a smartly reimagined, modernized version of Shakespeare’s Henry V. It’s too bad Shakespeare lived before the age of cinema because, with gorgeous cinematography, incredibly broad set pieces, and harrowing depictions of medieval war, director David Michôd delivers a glorious war movie. Timothee Chalamet stars as young Henry V, an unaspiring heir who has the crown forced upon him after his father’s untimely death. Believing Henry weak and ineffectual, the Dauphin of France takes the opportunity to incite a war. But there’s more afoot than meets the eye. Robert Pattinson’s performance as the Dauphin alone is worth the watch.

Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Stars: Timothee Chalamet, Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Robert Pattinson
Director: David Michôd
Rating: 
R
Runtime: 
116 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Triple 9

Triple 9 (2016)

Triple 9 divided critics and audiences, but it’s got a stellar cast with strong supporting turns by Norman Reedus, Michael K. Williams, Woody Harrelson, and Gal Gadot. And if you’re wondering what a triple 9 is, it’s an officer-down call that’s meant to serve as a distraction for a dangerous heist. Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie), Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Gabe Welch (Aaron Paul), and their crew are blackmailed by a Mafia wife, Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet), to sabotage the case against her imprisoned husband. They elect to kill police officer Chris Allen (Casey Affleck) to cover their tracks. But they’ve picked the wrong guy, and not everyone on the crew is willing to go along with the plan.

Rotten Tomatoes: 53%
Stars: Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Aaron Paul
Director: John Hillcoat
Rating:
R
Runtime: 
115 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Mad Max

Mad Max (1979)

Mad Max: Fury Road wowed audiences in 2015, but it was the original Mad Max four decades ago that set the tone for everything that came after it. In George Miller’s directorial debut, Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) is a respectable police officer in a post-apocalyptic Australia. With the love of his wife, Jessie (Joanne Samuel), Max narrowly holds on to his sanity. But this is the film that made Max “Mad,” as a gang of outlaws comes for Max and his family. When the law can’t protect them, Max takes matters into his own hands. And a legend is born.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Stars: Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Steve Bisley
Director: George Miller
Rating:
R
Runtime: 
93 minutes

Watch on Netflix

The Five Venoms

The Five Venoms (1978)

The Five Venoms was clearly one of Quentin Tarantino’s influences for Kill Bill, but this Hong Kong martial arts flick is legendary in its own right. Chiang Sheng stars as Yang Tieh, the Venom House’s last student under its dying Master (Dick Wei). Five of the Master’s former pupils have apparently turned against his teachings and threaten an old friend of his. Yang is trained to defeat his seemingly undefeatable predecessors and to figure out if he can trust any of them to help him fulfill his master’s dying wish. It’s a wild ride, and still a cult favorite decades after its release.

Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
Stars: Chiang Sheng, Sun Chien, Philip Kwok, Lo Mang
Director: Chang Cheh
Rating:
R
Runtime: 
98 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Wheelman, best action movies on Netflix

Wheelman (2017)

Frank Grillo tends to play a lot of villains or supporting characters and has appeared in a wide range of TV shows and movies, from Law & Order and Billions to Avengers: Endgame. But in Wheelman, Grillo gets to take the lead as the unnamed getaway driver who finds himself in over his head after a double-cross. Someone set up the Wheelman for a deadly fall, and he’s not going to take it lying down. Throughout the course of the movie, we learn a bit more about the Wheelman’s past and his broken family life. But the real attraction here is the dynamic driving and action scenes, which Grillo pulls off with gusto.

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Stars: Frank Grillo, Garret Dillahunt, Caitlin Carmichael
Director: Jeremy Rush
Rating:
TV-MA
Runtime: 
82 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Triple Frontier, best action movies on Netflix

Triple Frontier (2019)

Netflix put together an all-star cast for Triple Frontier, with Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, and Pedro Pascal as a team of ex-Delta Force soldiers who reunite for a dangerous heist in South America. Affleck’s Tom “Redfly” Davis is the ringleader of the crew who convinces them to reunite in order to steal a fortune from a drug lord.

However, Davis’ greed gets the best of him during the initial strike, leaving the team vulnerable as they attempt to escape the jungle with their newfound wealth and their lives. But the biggest threat to the team may come from within.

Rotten Tomatoes: 70%
Stars: Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Pedro Pascal
Director: J. C. Chandor
Rating:
R
Runtime: 
125 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Burn Out, best action movies on Netflix

Burn Out (2017)

One of the benefits of Netflix is the ability to discover films that would have been under the radar without it. A case in point is Burn Out, a French thriller that stars Parisian actor François Civil as Tony Rodrigues, a semi-pro motorcyclist who finds himself outside of the law. To settle the debt of his ex, Leyla (Manon Azem), Tony agrees to be a courier for a drug dealer named Jordan (Samuel Jouy), which, of course, involves Tony zipping through traffic on his motorcycle at breakneck speeds. But when Jordan won’t allow Tony to end their arrangement, he has to call upon his friend, Miguel (Olivier Rabourdin), to make an even more dangerous play to escape.

Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
Stars: François Civil, Olivier Rabourdin, Manon Azem
Director: Yann Gozlan
Rating:
TV-MA
Runtime: 
107 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Eva Green and Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, best action movies on Netflix

Casino Royale (2006)

James Bond doesn’t need an origin story, but Casino Royale proved that Ian Fleming’s super-spy could still be compelling in a modern setting. Daniel Craig’s first outing as Bond remains one of the best 007 films ever made, as he goes undercover with Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) to root out a terrorist conspiracy. Vesper also proves to be quite adept at getting under James’ skin, which is one of the reasons why she’s the first woman he ever truly loved. However, Vesper’s secrets threaten to destroy the young couple, if the mission doesn’t kill them first.

Rotten Tomatoes: 95
Stars: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen
Director: Martin Campbell
Rating:
PG-13
Runtime: 
144 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Chris Hemsworth in Extraction, best action movies on Netflix

Extraction (2020)

As one of their first films following Avengers: Endgame, Joe and Anthony Russo re-teamed with Chris Hemsworth for Extraction, a Netflix original. This particular comic book adaptation is much more down-to-earth, however, as Hemsworth’s black-ops mercenary, Tyler Rake, is recruited for a mission to protect Ovi Mahajan (Rudhraksh Jaiswal), the son of a local drug lord. Hemsworth’s performance carries the movie, and first-time director Sam Hargrave delivers next-level action and stunt sequences. This is one of the best popcorn flicks of recent memory, and it didn’t even need a theater.

Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Rudhraksh Jaiswal
Director: Sam Hargrave
Rating:
R
Runtime: 
117 minutes

Watch on Netflix

The Old Guard, best action movies on Netflix

The Old Guard (2020)

In a year largely without theaters, this comic book adaptation has stepped up to fill the blockbuster void. Charlize Theron headlines The Old Guard as Andy, a warrior who was once Andromache of Scythia. Andy and her fellow immortal mercs are exposed by ex-CIA spook James Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor). However, Andy’s quest to reclaim her secrets is complicated by the emergence of Nile Freeman (KiKi Layne), a Marine who becomes the first new immortal in a long time. Andy reluctantly takes Nile under her wing as previously unknown enemies close in on them. This may be the start of a new franchise, and Theron has once again demonstrated her impressive action chops.

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Stars: Charlize Theron, Chiwetel Ejiofor, KiKi Layne
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Rating:
R
Runtime: 
125 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall, best action movies on Netflix

Total Recall (1990)

Total Recall is Arnold Schwarzenegger at his finest. Paul Verhoeven’s wild sci-fi action ride casts Schwarzenegger as a 21st-century construction worker called Quaid who discovers that his memory is based on a memory chip that has been implanted in his brain. That chip is blocking his true identity: That of a secret agent who became a threat to the government. Infuriated by this betrayal, Quaid travels to Mars to piece together the final parts of his true identity while seeking vengeance on the man who implanted the chip. Total Recall is fast, furious, gratuitously violent, and a ton of fun — all while maintaining many of the provocative themes from the Philip K. Dick short story that inspired the film.

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Rating:
R
Runtime: 
113 minutes

Watch on Netflix

The Night Comes for Us, best action movies on Netflix

The Night Comes for Us (2018)

Timo Tjahhanto’s The Night Comes for Us is a brutal martial arts thriller that moves at a furious pace. The film begins as a group of enforcers for the South East Asian Triad massacres a village. Ito (Joe Taslim), one of the elite enforcers called the Six Seas, spares a little girl named Reina and kills the rest of the Triad soldiers present. Now on the run with Reina in tow, Ito must fight an army of goons and legendary assassins if he wants the two of them to survive. The Night Comes for Us is a stylish thriller, with deft camerawork and a pulsing soundtrack; it’s also a wildly violent one. Most of the fight scenes leave the rooms decked in blood and limbs, and one particularly gnarly kill somehow combines an air conditioner and piano wire.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Stars: Joe Taslim, Iko Uwais
Director: Timo Tjahjanto
Rating:
NR
Runtime: 
121 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Ip Mann, best action movies on Netflix

Ip Man (2008)

Based on the life of martial arts grandmaster and Bruce Lee teacher, Ip Man, 2008’s Ip Man is one of the most successful martial arts films of the 21st-century. The film focuses on events in Ip’s life that supposedly took place during the Sino-Japanese War when Japanese forces occupied parts of China. When an occupying general challenges Chinese men to duels to prove Japanese superiority, Ip Man initially refuses to fight until he discovers the Japanese are going far beyond just hand-to-hand combat. Starring Donnie Yen as Ip Man, this beautifully choreographed film is a delight for fans of martial arts films and the entire trilogy is currently on Netflix. We’ve also found some of the best Bruce Lee movies to stream.

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Stars: Donnie Yen, Simon Yam
Director: Wilson Yip
Rating:
NR
Runtime: 
106 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Snowpiercer, best action movies on Netflix

Snowpiercer (2013)

Bong Joon-ho cleaned up at the 2020 Oscars for Parasite, but before that, his most popular film in the U.S. was 2013’s Snowpiercer. Starring Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer, and John Hurt, Snowpiercer is a fascinating take on an apocalyptic Earth. Survivors of the planet’s second Ice Age live on a continuously running train that plows through the snow and ice. Like society before the Ice Age, the train divides the classes by car, with the decadent and rich at the front of the train, controlling the engine and all government, while the poorest and most disenfranchised live in the squalid caboose. When a revolution forms in the caboose, however, it threatens to derail more than just the complacent aristocracy. Snowpiercer is action-packed and more insightful than your average action movie, a testament to its excellent writer-director.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Stars: Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Song Kang-ho
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Rating:
R
Runtime: 
126 minutes

Watch on Netflix

The Outpost, best action movies on Netflix

The Outpost (2020)

In 2009, 53 American troops were attacked at the remote Combat Outpost Keating during the war in Afghanistan. The Outpost tells the story of these soldiers as they attempt to hold off an enemy force that has them severely outnumbered. More alarmingly, the army has stripped the small fortress of its resources, leaving the remaining troops in a very dangerous situation. The majority of the film takes place before the attack, and it paints a relatively realistic depiction of the lives of American soldiers caught up in a brutal war. But when the attack begins, The Outpost is elevated and becomes even more visceral as the soldiers face overwhelming odds while fighting for their lives. It’s a gripping battle sequence that makes this film an unforgettable experience.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Stars: Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones, Orlando Bloom
Director: Rod Lurie
Rating:
R
Runtime:
123 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World on Netflix

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

When Scott (Michael Cera) falls for the new girl in town, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), he realizes that she has a bit of baggage. That baggage being seven evil exes, whom he must literally battle to the death to win her heart. Much like the graphic novel series on which it is based, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is part video game, part love story — an inventive pairing that should sit well with anyone who grew up amid the SNES craze of the early-’90s. The splashy visuals, deadpan dialogue, and numerous speech bubbles just add to the film’s comedic charm.

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Stars: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jason Schwartzman, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza
Director: Edgar Wright
Rating:
PG-13
Runtime: 
113 minutes

Watch on Netflix

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