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If you need a shot of adrenaline, start here on Netflix.
If you’re in the mood for a movie with some kick, Netflix has your back. There aren’t a lot of classic action movies on Netflix available at the moment, but it does have an interesting array of foreign movies and other action movies that fly under the radar of most viewers. But for every Die Hard or Terminator or Speed that you currently won’t find on Netflix, there’s something you haven’t heard of that’s waiting to become your new favorite. Put your dukes up and punch play. These are the best action movies on Netflix.
The best action movies on Netflix
The Last Jedi is a refreshing and intelligent continuation after The Force Awakens, with powerful emotional arcs for each of the main characters. Controversial due to its unexpected creative choices and quirky sense of humor, it’s one of the strongest films in the franchise. You won’t look at Luke Skywalker the same way again. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw
2) The Killer
This well-executed Brazilian shoot-em-up flick cuts no corners in telling its serpentine story and spares no gory details. Branded as O Matador outside of the United States, the film stars Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado as Cabeleira, a manchild assassin searching for his adopted father through the lawless badlands of Pernambuco. —Kahron Spearman
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Wheelman stars Frank Grillo as a professional getaway driver who finds himself with $200,000 in his trunk and some very bad people on his tail after a bank job goes pear-shaped. Staged almost entirely within the confines of the car, Wheelman blends an intense neo-noir storyline with a gritty, charismatic lead performance by Grillo. More French Connection than The Fast and the Furious, Wheelman is a ride well worth taking. —David Wharton
As with the rest of the franchise, Rogue One’s production design is stunning. The tropical base on Scarif is like nothing we’ve seen before, and its sprawling battle scene feels tense and immediate. David Crossman’s costume design fits into the Star Wars universe while distinguishing Rogue One’s place in the beaten-down Dark Ages of the war, with the lead characters dressed in the tough, unwashed garb of guerrilla fighters. Jyn and Cassian look effortlessly badass in their scrubby jackets and layers of grimy shirts, while Baze Malbus and the aging extremist Saw Gerrera contribute sci-fi style with their dented body armor and bulky weapons. As ever, the franchise’s visual worldbuilding is second to none. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw
Taika Waititi’s sense of humor was a perfect match for the absurdity of the Thor franchise, rescuing it from the overly serious tone of Thor: The Dark World. The supporting cast members were brilliant (Jeff Goldblum! Tessa Thompson! Cate Blanchett! Mark Ruffalo!), and the production designers reveled in a rainbow-hued, Jack Kirby-inspired vision of the Marvel universe. It’s arguably one of the best comedies of 2017, and on top of that, it features some deceptively thoughtful political subtext. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw
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6) Jurassic Park
Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel about a theme park full of dinosaurs run amok is nearly as spectacular today as it was when it was released in 1993. From the first time John Williams’ sweeping score kicks and we get out first majestic shot of a dinosaur, Jurassic Park is a near-perfect action film and one of Spielberg’s most purely enjoyable blockbusters. Practically everything about the movie—from the groundbreaking effects to shirtless Jeff Goldblum—remain iconic. Countless parodies, several terrible sequels, and billions of dollars later, life, uh, still finds a way. —Chris Osterndorf
7) Ip Man
Donnie Yen, one of the most well-known martial artists in the world, plays the titular Ip Man in director Wilson Yip’s trilogy. This first film kicks off in the 1930s and centers around the Japanese invasion during the Second Sino-Japanese War and how if affects Ip’s life. It shows his evolution from a reserved man to the legend who would go on to train Bruce Lee.
8) Ip Man 2
Picking up a few years after the events of Ip Man, this film finds Ip relocated to Hong Kong and continuing to teach the ways of Wing Chun. Yen continues to excel in this role, in the dramatic moments just as much as he does when it’s time to throw down.
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9) Ip Man 3
After two successful films, the Ip Man trilogy pulls out all the stops for the capper. Mike Tyson joins the fray to add a little juice to a series whose cup already runneth over. This one features the relationship between Ip Man and a young Bruce Lee (played by Danny Chan). Once again Ip Man proves himself to be a grandmaster, while Yen and the film prove themselves worthy of telling his story.
In a future where siblings are strictly prohibited, families with multiple kids are forced to hide from the government. When one of seven sisters disappears, her siblings have to work together to find her from the confines of their home before they’re found by the spooks. Noomi Rapace plays all seven sisters, and watching her interact with herself is almost as fun as watching the sisters during the action scenes. A Netflix original movie, What Happened to Monday is a fun, fast-moving, and thrilling sci-fi romp.
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11) Doctor Strange
I’m one of those lame people who had my fill of Marvel movies long ago and checked out of the series. But I like filmmaker Scott Derrickson, and he rewarded me with this trippy and fun MCU movie. It has its flaws, and while the action scenes are rock solid, but it’s the crazy visuals Derrickson comes up with that make the movie worthy of this list.
12) King Kong: Skull Island
Kong: Skull Island is a movie that prioritizes fun and is all the better for it. The story is nonsense and hardly worth paying attention to. All you need to know is that people are on Skull Island and they have to get off it before Kong and a litany of creatures rip them apart. There’s a shot where a gas mask-clad Tom Hiddleston runs through a green gas cloud while swinging a machete. What more do you need?
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13) The Bourne Ultimatum
The latest highly touted Jason Bourne ended up like most sequels: better in theory than in practice. But why dwell on that when you can put on 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum? It’s the high-water mark of the series (a claim that works for each of the first three films). Bourne heads back to New York to finally get the truth about his past and is ready to punch, maim, and kill anyone who stands between him and the truth. From director Paul Greengrass’s kinetic camera to Matt Damon’s fierce and vulnerable performance, Ultimatum delivers everything fans of the series what to see.
Is stealing an abominable crime or a necessary evil? That question propels much of Netflix’s new Pickpockets, a Colombian crime-action flick centered around two teenagers, Fresh and Doggy, who struggle to get ahead on their own terms. The best friends become apprentices to a master pickpocket and quickly realize that as their paydays get bigger, their stakes get higher. Eventually, they’re forced to rely on their own skills and loyalty to each other to escape several life-or-death situations. Pickpockets follows the classic crime-action formula to a tee, but its protagonists deliver such exciting performances that it’s easy to go along for the ride. —Bryan Rolli
John Woo gets back to basics with the melodramatic and ridiculously entertaining Manhunt. After waking up in bed next to a dead woman, Du Qiu finds himself accused of her murder. To prove his innocence he must go on the run while he looks for evidence. On his trail is detective Yamura. The two men find himself in shootout after shootout and chase after chase. If you’ve ever enjoyed one of Woo’s action movies, you’ll get a kick out of Manhunt.
Looking for something more specific? Here are our Netflix guides for the best war movies, documentaries, anime, indie flicks, true crime, food shows, rom-coms, LGBT movies, alien movies, gangster movies, Westerns, film noir, and movies based on true stories streaming right now. There are also sad movies guaranteed to make you cry, weird movies to melt your brain, old movies when you need something classic, and standup specials when you really need to laugh. Or check out Flixable, a search engine for Netflix.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
Eddie Strait is a member of the Austin Film Critic Association. His reviews focus primarily on streaming entertainment, with an emphasis on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and other on-demand services.