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Photograph: Netflix / David Eustace

The best action movies on Netflix

Break some bones and drop your own catchphrase with our selection of the best action movies streaming on Netflix now

Written by
Time Out Film

Man cannot exist on period drama and weepy Oscar bait alone. Sometimes, what you want – nay, need – to see some bones get cracked and a couple of buildings explode. At the end of a long, stressful week, there’s nothing more therapeutic than flopping on the couch, powering down the ol’ thinkin’ machine and throwing on a big, loud, tinnitus-inducing action movie. Good thing Netflix has a ton of them at the ready.

But even when you don’t want to use your brain for a few hours, that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to watch something bad. Ridiculous? Of course. Over the top? Sure. But action doesn’t have to be a euphemism for dumb. These ten movies currently streaming on Netflix might not give you a ton to think about, but they are assured to provide a balls-to-the-wall adrenaline rush that’ll leave you sweating. 


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Best action movies on Netflix

  • Film
  • Thrillers

If we’re being honest, Netflix’s action films can be a bit dodgy –  with the exception, of course, of those on this list. So calling The Gray Man the streamer’s best ever action original may sound like faint praise. Let us assure you, though: the Russo brothers’ bombastic spy-vs-spy thriller would be a highlight for any studio. Ryan Gosling is at his stoic best as Sierra Six (née Court Gentry, which is somehow even funnier), a convicted killer turned CIA assassin turned man who knows too much after he learns that – gasp! – the Agency is up to no good. Who woulda thunk? It’s over the top, but also dryly funny and some of the most fun you can possibly have from your couch.  


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

2. 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. That being said, there are enough intense kick-ass fight sequences, explosions and shootouts to keep the action going too.

  • Film
  • Action and adventure

Before the endless reboots, crossovers and trips across the multiverse, there was just Peter Parker, emo high schooler turned arachnid-powered superhero. Sam Raimi’s original take on the friendly neighborhood webslinger mythos seems downright quaint after 20 years of major studios producing seemingly nothing but comic book movies, but that’s what makes it stand out among the deluge – that and Tobey Maguire, always and forever the best Spidey, in this universe and any other. 

Ip Man (2009)
  • Film
  • Action and adventure

Yes, this franchise is ostensibly about the man who taught Bruce Lee the art of kung fu. But describing it as a biopic feels a bit disingenuous, as director Wilson Yip never lets the facts get in the way of a good fight. Bless him for it, too, as the first in the series is an absolutely ripping martial arts masterpiece, which helped introduce the world outside Hong Kong to the badassness of star Donnie Yen.

  • Film
  • Action and adventure

Get off his damn plane! Clearly, those crazy Kazakhstani terrorists picked the wrong President to mess with. Setting the bar way too high for executive leadership in a time of crisis, Harrison Ford plays James Marshall, a Vietnam War hero turned leader of the free world who, upon having his airplane hijacked with his entire family onboard, decides to take matters into his own hands. Another banger from Das Boot director Wolfgang Petersen, Das Plane needs to be seen for anyone serious about unserious action flicks. 

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  • Drama

Brad Pitt, Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom star in this blockbuster adaptation of Homer’s war epic, written by former-Game of Thrones showrunner David Benioff. 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.

  • Film

When a world-weary Australian mercenary with the improbable name of 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.

The Killer (2017)
Image: Pedro Saad/Netflix

8. The Killer (2017)

Soon to be confused for David Fincher’s incoming graphic novel adaptation of the same name, this The Killer comes from Brazil and has the look and feel of a classic western. It tracks an orphan turned assassin named Cabeleira in his search for the man who took him in, raised him in isolation, then disappeared. As Netflix’s first Brazilian production, it received little hype outside its home country, but is among the streamer’s hidden non-English gems.

  • Film
  • Action and adventure

Scotland’s David Mackenzie directs what is, in historical terms, a follow-up to Mel Gibson’s Braveheart. In 1304, with an uprising thwarted, Robert the Bruce (a mullet-sporting Chris Pine, scuffed up but still smouldering) vows to serve under England’s Edward I (Stephen Dillane), along with the rest of Scotland. Of course, that harmony doesn’t last long, as the English are all riddled with lunacy and bloodlust. And so the brutal, bludgeoning, horrid battles begin.

6 Underground (2019)
Photograph: Christian Black/Netflix

10. 6 Underground (2019)

This Michael Bay-helmed Netflix movie is as loud, in-your-face and preposterous as you’d expect it to be. Some might complain about that, but if you’re a fan of Bay’s work then you’ll like the bigger is better approach here. It stars Ryan Reynolds as an unnamed American billionaire (with a specialism in magnets) who fakes his own death in order to form a squad of vigilantes to take down criminals and terrorists. Absolutely barmy.

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