The Best Action Movies on Netflix right now

by Natalie Kiser

Extraction, Blood Red Sky, Mystery Men, Netflix

Whether you’re in the mood to weave through busy city streets at top speed, break the bones of every henchman in the warehouse, or exact revenge on the big boss that killed your dog, Netflix has countless training videos … I mean action flicks … for you to enjoy.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to discover which among them is the right one for you. Thankfully, we’re here to help and have assembled a rotating list of the Best Action Movies on Netflix right now.

NOTE:  The following titles are streaming on the U.S. version of Netflix. 

Army of Thieves (2021)

Isn’t it nice when all the right combinations of elements to make a solid action movie all tumble into place? That’s precisely how I feel about Matthias Schweighöfer’s Army of Thieves, which serves as a prequel to the events of Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead. Fun, funny, and endlessly charming, Army of Thieves focuses on German Safecracker Ludwig Dieter (Schweighöfer) as he joins a group of aspiring thieves on a top-secret heist during the early stages of the zombie apocalypse. Joining Schweighöfer for this cleverly executed precursor to the outrageous events depicted in Army of the Dead is Nathalie Emmanuel, Ruby O. Fee, Stuart Martin, Guz Khan, Jonathan Cohen, and Noémie Nakai.

While I do think that Army of Thieves is roughly 20 minutes too long, that hardly detracts from this completely self-aware romp that somehow manages to lampoon heist films while still abiding by every trope in the book. Schweighöfer presents himself as a confident director with Army of Thieves and never misses an opportunity to inject a scene with pizazz and genuine humor. I will admit that while scenes involving traditional action take their time arriving to the party, each one of them is well worth the wait. If you thought Emmanuel was entertaining in the Fast and Furious franchise, wait until you see what happens when someone stands between her and her money. As a prequel to Army of the Dead, Army of Thieves delivers in terms of style, charm, and edge-of-your-seat tension. I’m not joking. I never thought cracking a safe could be so intense.

Blood Red Sky (2021)

The action genre is no stranger to having uninvited guests on planes. Whether it’s snakes, terrorists, or an angry president, 30,000 feet is an inconvenient place to find yourself faced with an altercation. Now, what if I told you we were adding terrorists and vampires to the mix? That’s a combination that’s bound to turn any first-class trip into an economy seat nightmare. Directed and co-written by Peter Thorwarth with Stefan Holtz, Blood Red Sky is a British-German action horror movie that features bloodsuckers in a confined space with plenty of screaming blood bags along for the wild ride. It all begins when a woman with a mysterious illness is forced into action after a group of terrorists attempts to hijack a transatlantic overnight flight. There’s plenty of turbulence from start to finish, and the intense conclusion to the story is both bloody and tragic. If vampire action flicks get your blood pumping, I highly recommend ordering a pizza with extra garlic and booking a flight with Blood Red Sky.

Bon Cop Bad Cop (2006)

Bon Cop Bad Cop is the deeply Canadian, dark comedy, buddy cop thriller you never knew you needed in your life. Ever wondered what Colm Feore looks like in a turtle neck? Ever wanted to learn how to swear voraciously in Quebecois? (CALICE!!) Ever wanted to watch Canadians take entertaining potshots at their stereotypes? No? Well, then watch it for the grow-op that goes up in flames and the subsequent antics of the EXTREMELY high cops who then have to file their reports. Or, stick around for the barroom brawl, the harrowing chase through a hockey rink, the oh-so-clever Tim Horton’s product placement, a kidnapping, and hilarious character chemistry between Martin Ward (Colm Feore) and David Bouchard (Patrick Huard).

Take it from me, a New Yorker of 36 years who now lives in Ontario, Canada full-time, Bon Cop Bad Cop is a chef’s kiss to Canadian culture, and action films overall. It’s the type of movie that gets better every time I see it, and now I know how to curse in Quebecois!

Extraction (2020)

I hope you’re ready for some trachea-crushin’, neck-snappin’, bone-crackin’ action because Sam Hargrave’s Extraction is an action movie that’s capable of making you feel like you need an ice bath long after you’re done watching it. Extraction stars Chris Hemsworth as Tyler Rake, a fearless black market mercenary tasked with rescuing the kidnapped son of an imprisoned international crime lord. As you can imagine, things go from bad to worse once Rake enters the war-ravaged territory to acquire his target. Before long, there aren’t enough bullets, soldiers, or local law enforcement agents that can keep a killing machine like Rake from completing his mission. Like several action movies on this list, Extraction has slick direction, stylish cinematography, and sequences that’ll have you holding your breath for as long as they last. If you’re the type of cinephile who loves to indulge in continuous takes, Extraction has got you covered, and each one is packed with frenetic fighting, bloody violence, and Hemsworth proving himself as a genuine action star.

The Game (1997)

Ask someone what their favorite David Fincher movie is and you often get Fight Club, Seven, Zodiac, or maybe even Alien 3. I want to tell you about my favorite, which is the acclaimed director’s most underrated offering, The Game. Critically acclaimed upon release, The Game was a box office disappointment. In the years since it was released, the Michael Douglas thriller has consistently ranked as one of the best thrillers of all time with one of the best twists you never saw coming. 

If you have never seen the movie, don’t watch any trailers or read anything about it. Just know that it follows rich, self-obsessed investment banker Nicholas Van Orten (Michael Douglas) who is gifted a unique present by his brother Conrad, played by Sean Penn. What starts as an alternate reality game quickly turns deadly. As Nicholas follows the clues, you never know if what he is experiencing is real or an elaborate fever dream or both. The brilliant camera work by Fincher and cinematographer Harris Savides, and a haunting score by Howard Shore make The Game the creepiest non-horror movie of the 1990s. This movie will have you biting your nails in anticipation, and captivated by every moment of suspenseful action.

Gunpowder Milkshake (2021)

What do you get when you mix Karen Gillan, Lena Headey, Carla Gugino, Michelle Yeoh, and Angela Bassett? Well, the ingredients for a Gunpowder Milkshake, that’s what! While female-fronted action films like Peppermint and Ava might have disappointed action fans, it’s movies like Atomic Blonde, The Old Guard, Mad Max: Fury Road, Birds of Prey, and Kate that earned a spot on my repeat watch list. Gunpowder Milkshake tells the tale of three generations of women who fight back against those who could take everything from them. It’s a mother/daughter story with delicious-looking desserts, secret assassin societies, drug-addled drag-out fights, a neon-lit bowling alley, and a librarian collecting late fees with a turret gun. If you dig creative situational combat, impossible odds, and brutal slapstick style displays that would have the cast of Looney Tunes taking notes, you should order yourself a Gunpowder Milkshake.

The Harder They Fall (2021)

Howdy, folks. If you’re hankerin’ for some rootin’-tootin’ shootin’ by way of a character-driven Western, The Harder They Fall will put six bullets in your belly and leave you for dead. Directed and co-written by Jeymes Samuel (They Die At Dawn) with Boaz Yakin (Fresh, The Punisher), The Harder They Fall stars a murderers’ row of talent that includes Jonathan Majors, Regina King, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Lakeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Edi Gathegi, Danielle Deadwyler, and more.

As many Westerns do, The Harder They Fall revolves around two groups of outlaws looking to settle an old score that involves a wagon full of money and a blood debt to be paid in full. In addition to packing plenty of heat once the bullets start flying, there’s some mighty fine camera work goin’ on here. The Harder They Fall also features one of the slickest soundtracks I’ve ever heard in a Western. I’m talking about artists like Koffee, JAY-Z, Lauryn Hill, and CeeLo Green doin’ their damnedest to make the prairie come alive with rhythm and soul. When you saddle all of these elements together, you wind up with an action movie that shoots sharp and comes loaded with captivating performances from every cowpoke involved.

Inception (2010)

For the last eleven years, Christopher Nolan’s top has kept spinning as fans continue to debate the multiple layers of this blockbuster dream within a dream within a dream. A decade has not diminished just how innovative and epic this movie is thanks to a complex nested plot and an ensemble cast that would make any producer drool. Led by Leonardo DiCaprio, Inception is a heist movie, philosophical meditation, and an action flick all rolled into one. Sure, there is a lot of talking going on, and South Park did one hell of a spoof on just how convoluted this movie can be at times, but it continues to be one of Nolan’s most ambitious productions.

Kate (2021)

Pop quiz, Hot Shot! You’ve been poisoned and only have 24 hours to live. You can either spend time with loved ones or kill the mother f*cker responsible for your imminent demise. What do you do? I’ll tell you what Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Kate is going to do. The latter. That’s right. She’s going to hunt and kill every last villain dumb enough to have played a part in her untimely end. There isn’t anywhere these people can hide, and there’s no point in holding back when you’ve got nothing left to lose.

After reminding us of her action chops in 2020’s Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan cast Winstead in an action role that is part John Wick, part Atomic Blonde, and all badass. While the movie does portray a more Westernized version of Japan, there’s no denying that Kate is visually stimulating when it wants to be. It’s also brutal as can be. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I sat down for this one, but what I got was plenty of slick hand-to-hand combat, stylish gunplay, and a few fatalities that would make the team behind the Mortal Kombat video game franchise blush. Also, did I happen to mention that Woody Harrelson is in this movie? While used sparingly, Harrelson serves as a great bit of flavor to this already delicious display of death and destruction.

Mystery Men (1999)

Grab your shovel, some of your mother’s prized cutlery, and prepare to be furious because I’m adding Mystery Men to this rotating list. While some of the best action films on Netflix go above and beyond to have massive explosions, jaw-dropping fight choreography, and high-octane car chases, there’s also something to be said about silly superhero antics too. I unapologetically love this movie. I have for a long time. Directed by Kinka Usher, Mystery Men stars an ensemble cast of comedic greats like Ben Stiller, Janeane Garofalo, William H. Macy, Hank Azaria, Paul Reubens, Kel Mitchell, Wes Studi, and Greg Kinnear – each suiting up as inept superheroes to foil the plans of an eccentric villain named Cassanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush). Together with the help of Doc Heller, played by Tom Waits, the Mystery Men embark on a mission to save their city while wielding weapons like the Blame Thrower, the Shrinker, and even a Canned Tornado.

This unconventional gem is a great example of what happens when superhero movies take a hard left turn at Albuquerque to deliver action that feels more like a Looney Tunes cartoon than your garden variety Stallone or Schwarzenegger flick. I’m of the mind that action films come in many forms, and sometimes you need to indulge in something that’s seriously stupid, has a great set design, and tons of laughs to go alongside some underappreciated instances of comedic genius.

Underworld (2003)

Before there was Team Edward and Team Jacob, there was Team Kraven and Team Lucian. Forget Twilight, the real cinematic battle between vampires and werewolves resides in Underworld, the stylish supernatural action film starring Kate Beckinsale as an immortal warrior willing to risk it all to change the status quo between two races of mythical monsters.

Directed and co-written by Len Wiseman with Kevin Grevioux and Danny McBride, Underworld really sinks its teeth into the early aughts with fashionable characters that look as if they shop at The Matrix and a soundtrack produced by Danny Lohner, featuring tracks from such bands as A Perfect Circle, Puscifer, Renholder, The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Damning Well and more. Surprisingly, much of the film holds up in terms of special effects and over-the-top action. Sure, the CGI effects are a bit dated, but they get the job done and then some. Plus, it’s not every day that you see a vampire versus werewolf movie where both sides are armed to their sharpened teeth with semi-automatic weapons. It’s a nice change of pace from the traditional hack ‘n’ slash formula used so many times before. If you want to see two of literature’s greatest groupings of supernatural creatures go tooth-to-claw in an all-out battle for supremacy, you should check out Underworld.

What do you think are the best action movies on Netflix? Let us know in the comments section below.