The best Netflix action movies aren't hard to come by, because there are tons of excellent films on the streamer to choose from. Where things get difficult, though, is narrowing down your choices to just a few films – but that's where we come in. We've rounded up the best of the best on the streamer to help you plan your next high-octane movie marathon.
Whether you're in the mood for a cowboy film like The Harder They Fall, a heist adventure like Army of Thieves, an actioner with some laughs like Red Notice, or a sci-fi flick like The Wandering Earth, there's bound to be something on our list for you. Plus, everything below is available in both the US and the UK, so you can get watching from whichever side of the pond you're on. So, without further ado, scroll on to find the very best action movies streaming on Netflix now.
The best Netflix action movies out now
The Harder They Fall
Trumpeted by Netflix as a ‘new-school western’, The Harder They Fall in fact takes the staples of old-school westerns (bandits, bank jobs, train robberies, rowdy taverns, shootouts) but blends them all together in a manner that feels fresh and vibrant. Towns populated by Black people are painted in vivid hues, while an all-white town is literally that – stores built with pale wood and streets coated with sawdust shavings like snowflakes. Director Jeymes Samuel is a stylist, given to arresting compositions and whizz-bang set-pieces, but he isn’t afraid to let his magnificent actors simply lock eyes and jaw.
Early in Netflix’s globe-trotting romp Red Notice, a priceless artifact is revealed to be a clever fake by the application of a fizzy drink. You won’t need sugary beverages to catch writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber’s comedy-thriller out, because it’s exactly what it seems to be: a starry and undemanding caper, with Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot sticking like fingerprints to character type.
Reynolds plays master art thief Nolan Booth, whom we first encounter pursued by Johnson’s FBI profiler John Hartley for stealing said artifact. Various twists, turns, surprise incarcerations, and quips about Johnson’s physique later, Booth and Hartley reluctantly unite to best the Bishop (Gadot), the super-thief who routinely outwits them. Will these relative rookies-in-crime manage to make their moves before the Bishop calls checkmate?
Army of Thieves
Set six years before zombie heist movie Army of the Dead, Army of Thieves focusses on the nervous Ludwig Dieter, played by Matthias Schweighöfer, who also directs the movie. We're in the early days of the zombie outbreak and Ludwig is just starting his safecracking days when he's hired by a mysterious woman to carry out a heist with a ragtag bunch of aspiring thieves. The cast also includes Game of Thrones' Nathalie Emmanuel and British comedian Guz Khan, while Zack Snyder executive produces. This one's a fun flick that's essentially part-Fast and Furious, part-comedy actioner that will sate any fans of Army of the Dead.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead gives John Wick a run for his money in Kate, Netflix's action thriller. Joined by Woody Harrelson and Game of Thrones' Michiel Huisman, Winstead plays the titular role, an assassin who finds out she only has 24 hours to live after being poisoned. She decides to spend her last moments going on a manhunt through Tokyo and befriends the daughter (Miku Martineau) of a past target in the process. Ignore the naysayers who say this one's simply another knock-off of Keanu Reeves' action franchise – Kate strikes out on her own, making for an engaging romp that's well worth a watch.
Army of the Dead
Zack Snyder's latest offering is an action-packed zombie heist movie that sees a group of mercenaries venture into an undead-ridden Las Vegas to crack a near impenetrable safe, with the promise of a huge reward. The problem is, Vegas is set to be nuked in just hours – and if that wasn't enough to get the adrenaline pumping, a lot of the zombies the crew encounter are faster, stronger, and smarter than you've seen before. Expect plenty of dead vs. living showdowns. The cast includes Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Ana de la Reguera, Matthias Schweighöfer, Omari Hardwick, and Tig Notaro.
The Old Guard
Charlize Theron headlines this popular graphic novel adaptation, a glorious mash of fight sequences and fantasy lore that plays the part of a modern-day actioner. The Old Guard follows a band of do-gooding mercenaries, led by Theron’s Andy, who also happen to be immortal. Through the ages, they’ve managed to keep their heads down and dispense with vigilante justice undetected, but the advent of technology soon makes that impossible.
Not content to rely solely on its cool “unstoppable warriors” schtick – that’s unveiled in an early show-stopping sequence – the movie kicks serious ass on every front. Director Gina Prince-Bythewood showcases her flair for marrying together a tight story with likable characters. Oh, and it’s got a romance for the ages, too.
A brisk, laugh-packed buddy comedy set over the course of one night. Nope, we’re not talking your standard ‘80s male-fronted pics. The Lovebirds takes that concept and splices it with the remnants of a fairy tale love story, opening on a couple, Jibran and Leilani, on their way to a party that they never reach because they fight in the car and decide to break-up. It’s tense, not particularly fun, and all feels a little grim. Until Jibran accidentally hits a cyclist who refuses their help.
Things spiral from that point, sending the duo into harm’s way repeatedly over the evening. They encounter a host of crooks who want to kill them, naturally making them work together as a team to survive their ordeal. It’s hardly reinventing the wheel, but that’s down to the comedic chops of Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae as the couple who deliver both gags and surprisingly solid beatdowns throughout.
You might know him as Crossbones from the MCU, or as that guy from The Purge movies. Here Frank Grillo plays a getaway driver - aka the wheelman of the title - thrown into an unfortunate set of circumstances when a heist goes wrong. With a car full of cash and no idea who framed him, it’s up to him to figure out what happened, even though he’s no idea who he can trust.
Dubbed a thriller and a neo-noir, with flashes of melodrama, you can safely call it all of those things. By the time the end rolls around, there’s no doubting this is a balls-to-the-wall actioner. And really, who doesn’t like a good car chase movie? Even when they’re bad they’re still a blast. Luckily, Wheelman is an excellent experiment in blending thrills and action, with a brisk running time that will make it speed by.
The Siege of Jadotville
The Siege of Jadotville is inspired by the experiences of the 157-strong Irish Army during their 1961 UN peacekeeping mission in Congo. It's hard to believe that Jamie Dornan, he of Fifty Shades, can deliver on the dramatic action front but he's at the top of his game as Commandant Pat Quinlan in this Netflix Original. He leads his 150 men into battle with a world-weariness that seems baked-in, taking them on a life-changing mission to hold steady a fort from 3,000 Congolese troops.
Part of director Richie Smyth's plan to toughen up his actors before shooting was to ensure that their experiences felt real. He made all of them attend a soldier training camp... and boy, does it show. That’s how you bring a layer of emotional truth to a movie like this.
The Night Comes For Us
Fancy watching something that will make your soul shake? Give this a go. It’s a blistering actioner that seldom takes its foot off the gas. Keeping the story simple works as an anchor, a way to let the action run riot, which you want with a star like The Raid’s Iko Uwais in charge. Here he plays a triad thug called Ito, who at the last minute turns on his fellow enforcers, when he spies a young girl in the village they’re currently slaying. Choosing to save her life, and waste his comrades, Ito must do whatever it takes to protect the child.
Cinema’s gone pretty far in terms of what’s deemed, well, acceptable, pushing the limits of good taste to the extreme. The Night Comes For Us charges down that route, somehow extending previous ideas on over the top violence and relentless barrage of gore. You will not see another action movie like it this year.
Da 5 Bloods
Not a classic action movie, but features enough war-torn action to certainly find itself on this list. Da 5 Bloods is directed by Spike Lee and tells the story of four US veterans (played by Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Isiah Whitlock Jr, Norm Lewis) returning to Vietnam to locate and repatriate the remains of their squad leader (played by Chadwick Boseman).
There’s also the little matter of finding a trunk of gold bullion they buried during the war – it was intended to pay locals for their help against the Viet Cong, but when it went down with a CIA plane, our heroes took it for themselves. This is a frequently fierce, fascinating picture, and that's why it's classed here as one of the best Netflix action movies available now.
The Wandering Earth
Watching Chinese box-office smash The Wandering Earth, it seems as if its screenwriter mainlined every ‘90s Hollywood disaster movie then promptly declared “Hold all the beers in the world.” The sweaty-browed machismo of American popcorn entertainment is nothing compared to what’s being dubbed China’s first proper sci-fi blockbuster. The story somehow surpasses them all.
Earth is in dire straits as the sun is on the cusp of dying out, making life on the planet uninhabitable. Scientists pepper the Earth’s surface with 10,000 rocket thrusters, enabling Earth to be directed to a new star system… as long as they also avoid pesky Jupiter’s gravity. It’s ambitious-as-hell yet director Frank Gwo and his team somehow juggle the superb ensemble cast along with a series of showy visuals for an at-times arresting disaster actioner.
We’re in a post-MCU world now where the superhero schtick is no longer counterculture. As a result, we’re now getting more fun, straight-to-streaming pics like Code 8, set in a world where roughly 4% of the population is born with abilities. Alas, this circumstance is sadly not met with excitement by the majority of citizens who cower away from “Powers”, including Connor (Robbie Amell), a twentysomething labourer struggling to pay for his mother’s medical bills. He harnesses his electrokinetic powers and joins forces with a criminal gang, in order to raise the cash.
Arrowverse heroes and real-life cousins Robbie and Stephen Amell co-star, after having raised the financing for the film through Kickstarter. It's their on-screen dynamic that truly sells it, with the older Amell playing the thuggish crook who enlists Connor. Writer-director Jeff Chan hardly has the type of budget typically tossed at superhero fare, yet this grittier take on an X-Men-esque world delivers plenty of compelling action sequences.
Outside the Wire
Set in the near future, Outside the Wire centers around a civil war between pro-Russian insurgents and local resistances in Ukraine leads the US to deploy peacekeeping forces. It stars Anthony Mackie (who also produced the movie) as an android officer who works with a drone pilot, played by Damson Idris, to stop a global catastrophe. Emily Beecham, Michael Kelly, and Pilou Asbæk also star. The movie was directed by Swedish filmmaker Mikael Håfström, who's also helmed thrillers like 2013's Escape Plan starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Another Netflix Original, Project Power stars Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Dominique Fishback. It follows a drug dealer (Fishback), a police officer (Gordon-Levitt), and a former soldier (Foxx) in a near-future New Orleans who team up to stop the distribution of a pill that gives the user superpowers for five minutes. The movie was directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, the duo behind Paranormal Activity 3 and Paranormal Activity 4. Colson Baker, Rodrigo Santoro, Amy Landecker, and Allen Maldonado also star.
Sinking $65 million dollars into its action spectacle Extraction, it’s no wonder Netflix chose to, as they say, go balls-to-the-wall on every front. Nabbing Chris Hemsworth for the lead was a masterstroke, but the big get aside from Thor is its director Sam Hargrave, who also happens to be an MCU stunt performer. Much like John Wick saw noted stunt genius Chad Stahelski take the reins as director for the first time, Hargrave gets that same chance to lens action the way a stuntman experiences it.
And that’s largely why the plot might not matter much. Who’s fussed about specifics when your director’s strapping himself into a car for a 12-minute take of a high-speed car chase? Granted, the story’s a decent enough tale of a sultry mercenary who accepts a job to locate the kidnapped son of an international crime lord, but it’s not going to change the face of cinema. Come for Hemsworth playing a slightly more serious role, and stay for the terrific action set pieces.
Beasts of No Nation
One of Netflix’s very first productions was a bold proposition indeed; a war movie in a fictional African country, performed for long stretches in Twi (a dialect of the Akan language spoken in Ghana), about a child soldier groomed for violence by a simultaneously terrifying and magnetic commandant. Beasts of No Nation plays out in just as bleak a manner as the premise suggests, leaving the viewer morally conflicted and emotionally exhausted.
In a movie that’s equal parts thrilling and harrowing, Idris Elba delivers an absolute masterclass in his role as the commandant. You watch him groom a child for war and perform several war crimes, and yet, somehow, you still find yourself wanting to root for him. And no less of a revelation is the young Abraham Attah as Agu.
Think of Triple Frontier as Ocean’s Eleven with a military slant. J.C Chandor directs from a script he co-wrote with Zero Dark Thirty’s Mark Boal for the testosterone movie of the year, that tells of a group of former Special Forces Operatives who band together to rob a noted cartel drug lord. It’s hardly new, plot-wise, but the movie brings out plenty of surprises beneath its pecs. Notably, its cast manages to venture into interesting territory with their characters, who find themselves in dire straits when a simple plan goes wrong.
Oscar Isaac leads as Santiago “Pope” Garcia, a DEA Agent who reunites his former team (Ben Affleck on top form, Charlie Hunnam, Pedro Pascal, and Garrett Hedlund) to carry out the heist, that undoubtedly doesn’t pan out the way they expect. Netflix struck gold with this winning combo of top-shelf A-listers, taut, precision scripting, and great action sequences that have your heart in your throat. One of the best action movies on Netflix, Triple Frontier packs equal amounts of brawn and brain and is eminently watchable.
The Debt Collector
Non-Netflix original available in US/UK
Several collaborations deep, and action champ Scott Adkins and director Jesse Johnson’s established rapport continues to, well, put Adkins into increasingly-hairy situations where the only way out is through... someone’s face. The pair typically ramp up the Guy Ritchie-esque British crime thriller template, yet this time they relocate to sunny Los Angeles where Adkins’ dedicated martial arts teacher French is struggling to keep his dojo open.
He quickly accepts a job as a debt collector that connects him with Sue, a former B-movie ninja expert, whose shabby aesthetic masks his thunderous desire to break people’s legs. Johnson and Adkins are in their element here. The stunt coordinator-turned director dispenses with scene-after-scene of action-comedy genius, clearly comfortable with both at this point in his career.
Starring Ryan Reynolds and directed by Michael Bay, this movie follows a group of, you guessed it, six people. All of them are highly skilled and capable of taking down even the most untouchable of targets. Their aim this time round is a dictator in Turkistan, named Rovach Alimov.
Though this film didn't do that well with critics, it's still packed with action, and Reynolds' performance as the lead character has been praised. 6 Underground is a great choice for a slice of explosive escapism, especially if you're already a Bay fan.
A near-future sci-fi flick by Snowpiercer director Bong Joon-ho, this is exactly the type of Netflix Original the world needs: funny, weird, and utterly charming. Part environmental parable, part bleeding heart manifesto, the movie follows, Mija, a 10-year old whose best friend is a super-pig called Okja. When the lab that created her friend steal the swine away from her, Mija embarks on an adventure to retrieve Okja that takes her across the globe.
Unlike the brutal, bleak landscape of Snowpiecer, Okja showcases Joon-Ho’s softer side. It’s still oddball and wacky but packed with a ton of heart. One of Netflix’s first movies that manages to juggle different ideas without losing sight of the goal; a real genre-blending effort. Oh, and Tilda Swinton. Anything that involves Tilda Swinton is worth watching.
The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf
A spin-off of The Witcher Netflix series, Nightmare of the Wolf serves as an origin story for Geralt's (Henry Cavill) mentor and fellow witcher Vesemir, voiced by Theo James. A servant on a nobleman's estate, Vesemir longs to explore the Continent and find his destiny. Sherlock's Lara Pulver is Tetra, a sorceress descended from one of the Continent’s first mages. She and her followers work to keep peace on the Continent by ensuring that magic is not abused. Graham McTavish voices warrior-leader Deglan, while Mary McDonnell is noblewoman Lady Zerbst.
Kwang Il Han directed the movie, while Beau DeMayo wrote the script, and The Witcher showrunner and executive producer Lauren Schmidt Hissrich is on board as a producer. Han is part of Studio Mir, who worked on the series The Legend of Korra, and DeMayo has also written and produced on the original Witcher series.