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The 20 best action movies on Netflix in the UK

Fancy a quiet night in? Well then stay the hell away from the best action movies on Netflix in the UK.

Written by
Andy Kryza
Contributor
Matthew Singer
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Sure, Netflix and chill is cool and all, but sometimes you want to stream something that’ll really get your blood pumping, your ears ringing and your hands chafed from high-fiving the person next to you on the sofa. In those moments, a light and fluffy romcom simply won’t do – you want a movie where stuff gets blowed up real good, or a whole army of anonymous henchmen get throat-chopped into oblivion.

Luckily, Netflix is loaded with options for those evenings when you really want to put your speaker system to the test. But ‘big and loud’ doesn’t have to mean ‘dumb and dumber’. Here are our picks for the best action movies currently streaming on Netflix in the UK that will raise your heart rate without lowering your IQ.

Recommended:

💣 The 101 best action movies ever made
😬 The 100 best thrillers of all-time
🥋 The 20 best martial arts movies of all-time
💻 The best films on Netflix UK right now

The Night Comes for Us (2018)
Photograph: Netflix

1. The Night Comes for Us (2018)

For any sadistic soul who watched The Raid and thought: ‘That was good and all, but it could use more violence’, Indonesian director Timo Tjahjanto would like a word. The Night Comes for Us is wall-to-wall carnage, a cartoonishly ghastly ordeal in which throngs of fighters sustain all manner of injury courtesy of blunt objects, bladed edges and fists that function like meat tenderisers. It’s a breathlessly ghastly triad flick that will get your blood pumping while the red stuff paints the walls, with The Raid alumnis Iko Uwais and Joe Taslim taking the spotlight amid waves of foes. It’s a film best followed by an ice bath. 

Point Break (1991)
  • Film
  • Thrillers

As comforting as a pair of meatball sandwiches, Kathryn Bigelow’s zen-surfer skydiving heist movie never gets old. No matter how many times you see it, you’ll discover something you likely missed before – like the pitbull that’s used as a projectile during that iconic foot chase, or the moment where Patrick Swayze is super-stoked to see his buddy’s bare ass. Watch another movie? In the curiously delivered words of a smirking, double-rat-tailed Anthony Kiedis, ‘That would be… a waste of time.’

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The Old Guard (2020)
Photograph: Aimee Spinks/Netflix

3. The Old Guard (2020)

Smart action movies don’t come along often, but director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s adaptation of Greg Rucka’s superhero comic cracks like a whip. Following a group of immortal mercenaries on a revenge mission, it’s a surprisingly human addition to the genre that grounds itself in the complexities of its characters, making space for queer representation and the painful realities of immortality. 

  • Film
  • Action and adventure

This is very much an old-fashioned superhero tale, and not just because of the somewhat-dated effects: Sam Raimi and star Toby Maguire beautifully capture the gee-whiz wonder of Stan Lee’s greatest creation, staging thrilling action scenes amid a sunny New York and setting the stage for the superhero invasion of the multiplex. 

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Attack the Block (2011)
  • Film
  • Action and adventure

A gang of teenagers find a higher calling when killer aliens invade their beloved South London neighborhood. Writer-director Joe Cornish turns a simple premise into one of the most fun, irreverent sci-fi flicks of the last decade. The whole movie takes place in a single tower block, leading to some bravura moments of claustrophobic action – the climatic scene in which a young John Boyega sprints in slo-mo across a living room on the backs of the jet-black beasties is the precise instant when he became an international star. 

  • Film

When an Australian mercenary called Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) is hired to rescue the sensitive son of an Indian drug baron, things don’t go as planned and Rake must go to extreme lengths to protect his charge. This Netflix Original is directed by former Marvel stunt coordinator Sam Hargrave and written by Avengers: Endgame co-director Joe Russo, so action fans know they’re in good hands.

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Akira (1988)
  • Film
  • Animation

Akira isn’t just the film that brought anime to the global audience: It’s a cyberpunk masterpiece packed with huge ideas, intricate detail and some of the greatest and most wildly imaginative visions to ever flow from the pen of an animator. You’ll find shades of Akira in everything from Inception to The Matrix, but even those game-changing sci-fi opuses can’t match the awe of watching motorcycle gangs in Neo-Tokyo laying waste to the city like well-coiffed cousins of Immortan Joe

  • Film
  • Animation

Studio Ghibli head Hayao Miyazaki’s fantasy masterpiece is the high watermark for the Japanese animation house: a hugely ambitious tale of warriors and forest spirits, warring clans and ancient gods. Of a piece with The Lord of the Rings, Miyazaki’s film is loaded with environmental messaging and deeply philosophical pondering... but good luck catching that as the heroine journeys between a land of increasing perils to eye-popping effect. 

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John Wick: Chapter Two (2017)
  • Film
  • Action and adventure

Sadly, the first instalment of the ‘Keanu Reeves in a suit stoically shooting bad guys’ franchise isn’t currently streaming, so here’s a quick primer if you’re looking to jump in with the first sequel: it’s Keanu Reeves in a suit stoically shooting bad guys. That’s all you really need to know. Sure, there’s some backstory involving dead wives, murdered dogs, stolen cars and a blood oath, but you’re almost certainly here for the well-orchestrated violence and Reeves’ near-silent charisma. So feel free to leap in at any point, because that’s just what you’ll get.

Blood Red Sky (2021)
Photograph: Netflix

10. Blood Red Sky (2021)

As far as high-concept ideas go, ‘Passenger 57 but with a vampire’ is pretty hard to screw up. But Blood Red Sky is so much more than Bats on a Plane: It’s a hijacking movie that pits a crew of track-suited terrorists against an unlikely survivor, sure, but the vamp at the center of the carnage that unfolds in the fuselage isn’t just a bloodsucker. She’s a protective mother in mama bear mode. And what unfolds is the most unpredictable flight since flights to Florida resumed. 

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Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
  • Film
  • Action and adventure

Stephen Chow’s daffy martial-arts comedy plays out like a bizarro combination of Drunken Master, Looney Tunes, A Fistful of Dollars and Buster Keaton as a small town is besieged by an axe-wielding gang of mobsters. Oh, and it’s also sort of a musical comedy to boot. Just go with it: Once the gravity-defying carnage amps up, each set piece offers its own jaw-dropping spectacle, particularly when a group of elderly villagers reveal themselves to be legendary warriors harnessing ancient powers. 

The Foreigner (2017)
STX Films

12. The Foreigner (2017)

Jackie Chan stars as a restaurateur with a dark past seeking revenge against the terrorists who killed his daughter. That synopsis reads as pretty by-the-numbers, but Chan succeeds in giving what, for him, is an unusually serious performance. And anyway, who’s going to complain about Jackie Chan assuming the Liam Neeson role of  ‘scowling old guy who will definitely kick your ass’? 

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  • Film
  • Fantasy

Before the world of Jumanji was invaded by Jack Black and a Jonas Brother, Robin Williams was our leading man in this tale about a supernatural board game that sucks players into its world, only to spit them out again decades later, along with a couple of rhinos for good measure.

  • Film
  • Action and adventure

Ridley Scott’s historical epic is a sword-and-sandal spectacle, packed with pomp and pageantry, dastardly plots, massed action and forthright, fundamental emotions. Starring Russell Crowe at his most dashing and Joaquin Phoenix at his most villainous, this might not be the most historically accurate depiction of Ancient Rome, but it’s certainly the most entertaining.

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The Forgotten Battle (2020)
Netflix

15. The Forgotten Battle (2020)

An under-the-radar gem of a war flick, this Netherlands production is  indeed set during one of the overlooked military operations of World War II: the Battle of the Schelde, in which Allied soldiers attempted to push the Germans out of Nazi-occupied Zeeland in order to take control of a crucial port. Director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr manages to make a high-gloss Euro epic feel intimate by focusing on a trio of characters – from both sides of the war – whose lives intersect on the battlefield.

Baby Driver (2017)
  • Film
  • Action and adventure

Edgar Wright’s first American film (and his last feature prior to Last Night in Soho), Baby Driver took some flack from fans expecting another comedic tour de force from the Hot Fuzz director. But even those who can’t jive with Wright’s narrative rhythms – every movement is set to the beat of the soundtrack – can’t deny that Baby Driver is one of the best car-chase films of all time, a ballet of bent fenders and burning rubber that pushes the pedal to the floor and never lets up. The pure jolt of adrenaline is enough to make you forget that Simon & Garfunkel-quoting title. 

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  • Film
  • Action and adventure

A medieval epic with historical roots, Outlaw King tells the story of Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine), the warrior turned King of Scotland who led a guerrilla war against the occupying English army in 1304. Chris Pine with a Scottish accent might sound dodgy, but director David Mackenzie (Hell or High Water) keeps the action bloody and brutal - consider it prep for The Northman

  • Film
  • Drama

Brad Pitt, Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom star in this blockbuster adaptation of Homer’s war epic. Pitt is muscular and brusque as the fated Achilles, a bit wooden at times but that seems fitting for a film that centres itself around a giant wooden horse. Those seeking an emotional interpretation of the Battle of Troy would be better off reading Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles. This one is for fans of big set pieces and bloody battles, both of which arrive smothered in lashings of CGI.

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Rush (2013)
  • Film
  • Drama

Directed by Ron Howard and written by The Crown’s Peter Morgan, this biopic chronicling the six-year feud between 1970s Formula 1 competitors Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) is talkier and more character-driven than most racing movies, but it’s still mainly about fast cars going vroom. Ninety percent of the film takes place on racetracks and at press conferences, where the diametrically opposed rivals – Lauda’s a stern Austrian, Hunt a walking British hard-on - hurl snarky comments at each other. It’s a quintessential dad movie, but smart and sassy enough for everyone else too.

Triple Frontier (2019)
Photograph: Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix

20. Triple Frontier (2019)

Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal star in this heist movie about a group of former US Army soldiers who steal an absolute fortune from a South American crime lord. Getting the money to safety proves complicated, however, and the group must overcome violent and deathly obstacles that will leave them questioning their morality and the lengths they’d go to for a hefty wad of cash. 

Find more great movies on Netflix

The 100 best movies on Netflix
  • Film

We’ve all been there. You cosy down on the sofa for an evening watching Netflix, log in and… nothing. A total lack of inspiration. Which is why we’ve put together this list of the very best films on Netflix UK, from comedy classics and recent multiplex smashes to animated gems and arthouse wonders.

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