They can be cheesier than Stilton and well-respected enough to earn Oscar nods. Characters careen around city streets at top speed and set stuff on fire in the most over-the-top ways imaginable. Simply put? There's nothing quite like a good action movie. When settling in for a night in front of the TV, why wouldn't you opt for a wham-bam adrenaline rush? It's the best. Seeing as the amount of action movies in existence is somewhere in the gazillions (that's a rough ballpark figure) it can be a bit tricky finding the right one to fit your viewing needs.
That's why Netflix's streaming selection is the perfect place to start. We've whittled down its vast catalogue of action titles to 25 of the best. As this list goes to show there's more to a good actioner than just blowing stuff up, and looking cool when you walk away from a fiery explosion. Although, not much more to be honest...
25. A Lonely Place to Die (2011)
If you've skipped past this thinking 'Ugh, it's that bleak rock climbing documentary AGAIN' then fix that problem, pronto. I won't lie, there is mountaineering involved but watching Melissa George and co. navigate some absolutely horrendous terrain makes this movie worth a watch. The group in question find their outdoorsy weekend interrupted when they discover a kid buried in a box in the middle of nowhere. Yep. That sort of thing doesn't just happen and it's not long before they're being pursued by loads of very athletic bad guys. If you like balls-to-the-wall action flicks with a side order of thrills add this to your queue. Now.
24. Armageddon (1998)
The 1998 blockbuster season saw two practically identical movies about Earth on the verge of impending disaster thanks to pesky meteors; Deep Impact and this one. When it comes to far-fetched plots, over-the-top explosions and flagrant sentimentalism, Michael Bay's your guy, really. Armageddon's not a perfect film by any means. A large chunk of its A-list cast are underused and most of its plot is utterly ridiculous. And yet, for a mega-budget popcorn flick about a bunch of astronauts tasked with landing on a giant rock hurtling toward the planet? You can't help but grit your teeth when the going gets tough.
23. How I Spent My Summer Vacation (2012)
Mel Gibson's got himself into a lot of hot water over the last decade and that's perhaps why this little gem slipped through the cracks. How I Spent My Summer Vacation - or Get The Gringo to the US crowd - is a terrific blend of action and comedy that's a lot funnier than it looks. It's a throwback to Gibson's heyday, back when he could fire off one-liners and pistols at the same time. Let's not forget, when he's good and not offending minorities Gibson's hella likeable. He's superb in this colourful and snappy movie that casts him as a getaway driver wrongly incarcerated and stuck in a Mexican prison, where - like most convicts - he really needs to escape.
22. Small Soldiers (1998)
I'm flabbergasted this Joe Dante B-movie didn't make a bigger impact at the time of release. A late-'90s adventure, Small Soldiers appeals to the child within us all with the following premise: what if your toys actually came to life? Imagine a live-action version of Toy Story with a military weapons plot told by the guy who directed Gremlins. Kirsten Dunst stars as a teenager whose dad works for a defense contractor developing a line of action figures trained for actual combat. Things go awry when two toy lines - the Gorgonites and the Commando Elite - go to war, dragging Dunst and her brother into their shenanigans.
21. Legend of Drunken Master (1994)
Jackie Chan's done a lot of martial arts movies over the years (no kidding!), but it's Legend of the Drunken Master that shows off his expertise better than any other - yes, even Rush Hour. Chan's got the lot here, charm, timing and an ease with martial arts that makes it look like he's been doing it since birth. He plays a Chinese folk hero who attempts to take down the British consul from embarking on a nasty exporting scheme. His unique set of skills - Zui Quan, aka Drunken Boxing - are way cooler than anything Liam Neeson could whip out of his repertoire. Lightning-fast kung fu, anyone?
20. V For Vendetta (2005)
When you think of action movies, the mind usually leaps to Baybuster-inspired explosions and tough guys with mullets walking away from said explosions. Action's often seen as the 'check your brain at the door' genre. V For Vendetta asks: why can't we have brains AND explosions? A dystopian tale based on the Alan Moore comics and written for the screen by the Wachowskis, it takes place in a fallen London - and there's no Gerard Butler in sight. No, this is V's show, a masked vigilante who leads a rebellious movement to overthrow the fascist government regime. Think Brazil meets The Matrix and you're getting close.
19. Django Unchained (2012)
Region: UK, US
Sandwiched slap bang in the middle of Inglourious Basterds and The Hateful Eight is Tarantino's second period piece. The thinking man's actioner, where the talk flies as fast as the bullets from a well-oiled pistol. Jamie Foxx plays Django, a branded slave, who teams up with Christoph Waltz's bounty hunter Dr. Schultz. A deal is struck and the odd pair kick ass and take names on their way to rescue Django's beloved from the evil Calvin Candie. Everything leading up until the showstopping climax is good, it just doesn’t compare to that almighty final scuffle. Add this to the list of roles Leo should have won an Oscar for.
18. xXx (2002)
Region: UK, US
Only Vin Diesel could take a title like XXX, wrestle it away from its X-rated connotations and turn it into a pretty fun action franchise. This is Bond meets Fast & Furious. Forget your high-brow swanky drinks combos and steam-cleaned suits, 'cause Diesel ain't got time for that. This is all about hard-edged machismo with an even harder-edged rock soundtrack. Well, what would you expect from someone like Xander Cage, an extreme sports nut with a penchant for doing dangerous stunts and working as a freelance spy for the NSA? Switch your brain to chill and soak up the thrills.
17. Equilibrium (2002)
Region: UK, US
In a world where feelings are outlawed... you can totally hear that in trailer guy's voice, can't you? Back to the plot: feelings are bad. So bad in fact, that a totalitarian government has outlawed them. Citizens are forced to take drugs everyday to suppress their true desires, but should you miss a dose and start to get all gooey you'll get tracked down by lethal enforcers. Which is where the fun starts: Christian Bale's operative does just that and begins to ponder if the government really has any right to steal humanity of its, you know, humanity. You can probably see where this is going. Bale happens to be trained in several martial arts, leading to some absolutely bone-crunching sequences where a coup is all but certain.
16. Deep Blue Sea (1999)
On the surface Lenny Harlin's giant shark actioner looks, well, like your run-of-the-mill giant shark actioner. While it might simply *scream* Bargain Bin, Deep Blue Sea is one of the best mega-monster flicks. Samuel L. Jackson - the obligatory "big name" - plays an executive visiting one of his company's research facilities, where Saffron Burrows' scientist is playing god with a bunch of genetically-modified sharks. It's all in the name of curing Alzheimer's, but still. A shark that's extra large on account of all the DNA-meddling? That's still a shark that needs to eat. Harlin says he made the sharks extra long - 26ft - to try and do better than Jaws, and even if he doesn't quite accomplish it, you'll have a hoot regardless.