The 18 Best Action Movies Streaming On Netflix Right Now
Netflix is mostly known for its high-profile original series like Stranger Things and Squid Game, but the streaming giant also has a great selection of movies. You could lose hours just browsing through the catalog of thousands upon thousands of movies, and no one could blame you for getting some analysis paralysis. That's where we come in to help, with a carefully curated selection of the very best action flicks to check out on Netflix, presented in no particular order.
Netflix has an eclectic selection of movies, often categorized into individual moods or defining traits. But if your priority is just to get your blood pumping, you can start here. Our recommendations run the gamut from classic to modern movies, including some originals that can only be found on Netflix. If you're in the mood for excitement, bombastic explosions, tense standoffs, and daring stunt work, you can start with these greats.
If you've watched everything on this list and you're still looking for even more streaming entertainment, you're in luck. Just check out our list of the best sci-fi movies you can stream on HBO Max. If you're more of a horror buff, be sure to watch these horror movies said to be based on true stories. And for serialized storytelling, be sure to consult our guide to can't-miss fall TV shows.
1. Spider-Man/Spider-Man 2
Years before the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Sam Raimi took the reins of one of Marvel's most iconic heroes, directing a trilogy of films with two very good entries and one we don't talk about. Spider-Man was a massive blockbuster that redefined comic book movies for the '00s, and Spider-Man 2 was its acclaimed successor that is still considered one of the best superhero movies of all time--thanks in part to the stellar performance of Alfred Molina as the villainous Doc Ock. These movies received something of a reunion in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
2. The Nice Guys
Harkening back to old-school buddy cop movies, The Nice Guys wears its influences on its sleeve and plays within established genre conventions. Within that framework, though, it's an outstanding example, set against a seedy '70s backdrop and letting the comedy chemistry of its two leads, Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, carry the film.
3. Starship Troopers
A movie ahead of its time, Starship Troopers was a prescient critique of militarization and rising fascism that seemed too far-fetched when it released in 1997. The Paul Verhoeven film, based on a novel of the same name, sees humanity acting as a united front against the backdrop of insectoid aliens. It didn't wow audiences or critics at the time of its release, but it's since become a cult classic for its sharp political satire.
4. The Old Guard
One of Netflix's own studio releases that stands on its own as a great action movie, The Old Guard is likely to become a franchise. Charlize Theron leads a team of immortal warriors turned mercenaries when they discover a new member of their tribe for the first time in hundreds of years. Based on the graphic novel, the movie has a creative premise and stylish action sequences. And though the heroes are immortal, it's never lacking in stakes and tension.
5. Blade Runner 2049
Blade Runner is an all-time classic sci-fi action film, and for a long time stood as a singular look into a fantastical noir dystopia. It was a gutsy move to give it a direct sequel, but Blade Runner 2049 actually managed to live up to its legacy. Denis Villeneuve directs Ryan Gosling as a new Blade Runner who uncovers a secret about the artificial human Replicants that could destabilize what's left of the world. Slick and full of arresting visuals, Blade Runner 2049 does the series proud.
6. Get Smart
Before superhero franchises were dominating the box office, Hollywood was snatching up every retro sitcom it could find and turning it into a big-budget modern movie. Get Smart was one of the best, taking the classic spy spoof and rebooting it with Steve Carrell and Anne Hathaway. Carrell plays Maxwell Smart, a bumbling idiot of a secret agent, accompanied by his much more adept partner, Agent 99. It pays homage to the smart (and still very funny) Mel Brooks TV series while forging its own modern identity. Even Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson got to show off his early comedic chops.
7. Men in Black
At the height of Will Smith's action movie stardom was Men in Black, a bizarre concept that had us rooting for black-suited G-men. Based loosely on the urban legend turned comic book, Men in Black follows a shadowy government agency that is, for some reason, named after its clothes. The Men in Black is Earth's last line of defense against an alien menace, and MiB married this oddball high-concept with a classic buddy cop dynamic. Tommy Lee Jones starred as the experienced Agent K, showing the ropes to Smith's newbie Agent J. It's worth watching for the physical performance of Vincent D'Onofrio alone, lumbering around as an alien bug wearing a human skin suit. It's less gross, and more funny, than it sounds.
8. Army of the Dead
Zack Snyder's horror-action movie takes the classic zombie franchise and makes it even more bombastic by adding a heist element, featuring a team of mercenaries who attempt to break into a zombie-infested Las Vegas casino for a huge score. The mash-up is ambitious and a little uneven, but it has Snyder's action thumbprint as well as a surprising star turn from comedian Tig Notaro, who was brought in to digitally replace actor Chris D'Elia.
One of the best Bond movies of the modern era is available on Netflix. Skyfall is the third Daniel Craig Bond movie, pitting him against a former MI6 agent named Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), who has an axe to grind against the organization's head, M (Judi Dench). Bardem brings a level of menace to the role not seen in many other Bond films, and Bond's relationship with M serves as a surprisingly emotional core for a movie about a dispassionate super-spy.
10. Last Action Hero
A genre deconstruction that was ahead of its time, Last Action Hero featured Arnold Schwarzenegger poking fun at his own style of '90s blockbuster action movies. The satire features Schwarzenegger as super-cop Jack Slater, the hero of the Jack Slater action franchise. When the boundaries between the real world and the film franchise start to blur, a boy named Danny is pulled into the movie universe, and a villainous assassin from the movies escapes into the real world. It's an extremely meta movie from an era before meta and irony were quite so common.
11. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Tom Cruise has made the Mission Impossible franchise a massive blockbuster property, renowned for its daring practical stunts. Ghost Protocol is one of the best, marking the live-action directorial debut of Brad Bird. This movie follows the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) cut off from government support and resources after being framed for a bombing. The centerpiece of the action is Cruise's daring stunt climbing the Burj Khalifa, the tallest skyscraper in the world.
12. The Dark Knight Rises
The culmination of the Nolan trilogy of Batman films, The Dark Knight Rises isn't quite as good as The Dark Knight, but it still has plenty of memorable moments. The story is based loosely on the classic Knightfall arc of comic books, which pitted Batman against the arch-villain Bane. The battle leaves Batman broken and Gotham in peril without its protector, and Bruce is forced to build his way back to fighting strength. Along with Tom Hardy's Bane, this entry features Anne Hathaway joining the ranks of on-screen Catwoman portrayals.
13. Leon the Professional
This Luc Besson action-thriller marks the debut of a young Natalie Portman as Mathilda, who is taken under the wing of a professional hitman with a code (Jean Reno). The quintessential wolf-and-cub story has Mathilda learning the hitman trade from her mentor and protector, as they evade the danger from a corrupt DEA agent played by a truly unhinged Gary Oldman.
14. The Foreigner
Jackie Chan has become known for his martial arts comedy, blending incredible acrobatics with pratfalls and props. The Foreigner was a chance for him to stretch out into a more serious take on the martial arts genre, starring as a Nung Chinese man living in London who seeks vengeance after his youngest daughter is killed in a terrorist bombing. On top of the impressive martial artistry, we get to see a villain turn from the usually dapper and heroic Pierce Brosnan.
15. Ip Man
This biographical martial arts film follows the life of a Wing Chun grandmaster who taught the renowned martial artist Bruce Lee. The Hong Kong action movie stars Donnie Yen as Ip Man, in events said to take place during his life during the Sino-Japanese War in the 1930s. As you might expect from a film centered on a real-life martial arts grandmaster, the fight choreography is really the star here, showcasing Yen's singular talents and paying homage to its title character.
This military action thriller is something of a Marvel Cinematic Universe reunion, even though it has nothing to do with capes or cowls. Chris Hemsworth, best known as Thor in the MCU, plays an Australian black ops mercenary on a mission to save a child in Bangladesh. Director Sam Hargrave makes his directorial debut after gaining renown as a stunt coordinator for Marvel films, and the movie was written by Joe Russo, one half of Marvel's Russo brothers. All that experience making big-budget action films shows with fantastic stunt work and a winning performance from Hemsworth.
17. In The Line of Fire
This 1993 Clint Eastwood vehicle is a gripping look at the tense life of a Secret Service agent who may be asked at any time to put their body between the President and a would-be assassin. Eastwood stars as the last remaining agent who was serving during the assassination of John F. Kennedy, tasked with protecting the president from a disillusioned former CIA agent. It's a tense thriller that still holds up all these years later.
A swords-and-sandals epic set during the Trojan War, Troy focuses mostly on the legendary battle between the brash and proud warrior Achilles (Brad Pitt) and his army of Greek Myrmidons against Hector (Eric Bana) and his fortified city of Troy. The story loosely follows the events of the Illiad, including famous events like the Trojan Horse ambush. While it's a historical epic, it toys with pieces of mythology like Achilles' heel, without directly referencing the ancient Greek gods.