The Best Action Movies on Netflix Right Now (April 2021)

Looking for a little adrenaline jolt to your Netflix viewing? We’ve got you covered. Below we’ve curated a list of the best action movies currently available to stream on Netflix, from the more adventure-tinged playful flicks to big-budget superhero movies to straight-up kung fu films. It’s the perfect antidote to the same-old-same-old, and Netflix has a pretty swell and diverse library of action films to spice up your night.

So behold, below are the best action movies on Netflix.

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Image via Netflix

Director: Sam Hargrave

Writer: Joe Russo

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Rudhraksh Jaiswal, Randeep Hooda, Golshifteh Farahani, Pankaj Tripathi, and David Harbour

It’s no wonder that the action in the Netflix original film Extraction is spectacular given that director Sam Hargrave’s background is as the stunt coordinator for films like Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Endgame. Scripted by Endgame co-director Joe Russo, Extraction is a hardened (and extremely violent) actioner that follows a disillusioned mercenary who is tasked with escorting a young kidnapped boy out of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Along the way, he grows fond of the boy and grows into his role as protector. The action is outta control in this one, and Chris Hemsworth gives a solid lead performance while Hargrave does some very fun stuff with the camera. Gritty and graphic with a unique visual flair, Extraction will definitely get your blood pumping. – Adam Chitwood

Total Recall

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Image via TriStar Pictures

Director: Paul Verhoeven

Writers: Ronal Shusett, Dan O’Bannon, and Gary Goldman

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, and Ronny Cox

If you’re in the mood for a great throwback 80s/90s sci-fi actioner, you cannot possibly go wrong with Total Recall. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a construction worker who suddenly finds himself thrust into the world of espionage involving a colony on Mars. It’s crazy and weird and funny and thrilling, and Schwarzenegger is perfectly cast. Get your ass to Mars! – Adam Chitwood

The Old Guard

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Image via Aimee Spinks/Netflix

Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood

Writer: Greg Rucka

Cast: Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Harry Melling, Veronica Ngo, Matthias Schoenaerts, Chiwetel Ejiofor

Charlize Theron is one of the best action stars working today, showcasing tremendous physical skill and positively withering gazes in films like Mad Max: Fury Road and Atomic Blonde. In Netflix’s The Old Guard, Theron gets to put those talents to work in a compelling comic book adaptation, starring as an ancient leader of an immortal band of assassins. Directed by Love & Basketball and Beyond the Lights filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood in her first big blockbuster action turn, The Old Guard doesn’t just offer explosive action set-pieces and kinetic fight scenes (though it definitely has those), it brings something much rarer to the genre: the recognition that violence and killing are brutal, disgusting work and that there’s a toll that comes with taking a life. In short, it has humanity and empathy, qualities that give the pulse-pounding thrills a bit more heft without derailing your good time at the movies. And yes, I’ll admit, I also love that Theron just kicks so much ass. It’s a fine needle to thread, but Bythewood pulls it off, and she even brings her signature touch for romance into the fold.

RELATED: The Best Netflix Movies of 2020

Stardust

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Image via Paramount Pictures

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Writers: Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman

Cast: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Jason Flemyng, Mark Strong, Rupert Everett, Peter O’Toole, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Robert De Niro

Filmmaker Matthew Vaughn has found success with colorful, somewhat subversive films like Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, and most recently the Kingsman movies, but if you’re a fan of the director’s work or just in the mood for a really fun fantasy film, his 2007 Neil Gaiman adaptation Stardust is highly recommended and sorely underrated. This is a fairy tale by way of Gaiman and Vaughn’s particular sensibilities, as Claire Danes plays a star who falls to Earth and is found by a young man named Tristan (Charlie Cox), kicking off an adventure that includes Michelle Pfeiffer as a witch and Robert De Niro as a flamboyant pirate. It’s fun, it’s weird, it’s sweet, and it’s delightfully strange. – Adam Chitwood

Free Fire

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Image via A24

Director: Ben Wheatley

Writers: Amy Jump and Ben Wheatley

Cast: Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley, Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Jack Reynor, Sam Riley, and Noah Taylor

What if an entire movie took place during a Mexican Standoff? That’s essentially the premise of Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire, which is a violent, R-rated good time. Set in the 1970s, the film begins with a meet-up between IRA members and an arms dealer, but complications ensue, backs are stabbed, and weapons are unloaded. There’s an undercurrent of dark humor to the entire proceeding that makes the film far more fun than you may be expecting, and performers like Sharlto Copley and Brie Larson are more than up to the challenge of letting their comedic sensibilities shine. If you’re looking for an action movie that’s a little offbeat, a little different, give this one a shot. – Adam Chitwood

Snowpiercer

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Image via The Weinstein Company

Writer/Director: Bong Joon-Ho

Cast: Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Song Kang-ho, Octavia Spencer, John Hurt, Ed Harris, Ko Asung

Before he became an awards darling with Parasite, Bong Joon Ho spent the last two decade digging into the guts of genre storytelling and mixing them all around in everything from his 2003 serial killer thriller Memories of a Murder to his 2006 class-conscious creature-feature The Host, and in 2013, he took on an environmental post-apocalyptic nightmare society with Snowpiercer. The concept is simple and elegant — after an environmental experiment turns the world into a frozen wasteland, the citizens of a never-halting train live in literally compartmentalized economic bubbles depending on what class they were riding on the day the world ended. The first-class customers live in decadence while those the rear trains starve to death — until the poor and the hungry have finally had enough and lead a violent revolutionary charge to the top of the train car. Director Bong fills each car with rich and dangerous life, bracing style, and yes, relentless action. In fact, the key fight scene just landed a spot on our Best Action Scenes of the Decade list. — Haleigh Foutch

Master Z: Ip Man Legacy

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Image via Universal

Director: Woo-Ping Yuen

Writer: Edmond Wong and Chan Tai Lee

Cast: Jin Zhang, Michelle Yeoh, Dave Bautista, Tony Jaa, Chrissie Chau, Kevin Cheng

The Donnie Yen-led Ip Man series is one of the great action franchises of our era, and with Master Z: Ip Man Legacy, it gets the ass-kicking spinoff it deserves. Fair warning, Yen sits this one out, but fans will recognize a familiar face in Jin Zhang‘s Cheung Tin-chi, the antagonist from Ip Man 3 who was soundly defeated in the third act and walks into Master Z downtrodden and determined to leave Wing Chun behind — until he gets caught up in a battle against opium-slinging crimelords. Directed by the legendary Woo-Ping Yuen with an ensemble cast that includes Michelle Yeoh, Dave Bautista, and Tony Jaa, Master Z is a wonderful spectacle of a martial arts film, sending the heroes and villains swinging from rooftop neon signs and trading blades in epic ensemble fights, and it introduces a completely different tone to the Ip Man franchise — electric guitar riffs and all — that promises a potential future for the series after next year’s Ip Man 4: The Finale. — Haleigh Foutch

The Night Comes for Us

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Image via Netflix

Writer/Director: Timo Tjahjanto

Cast: Joe Taslim, Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle, Zack Lee, Sunny Pang, Hannah Al Rashid

You may think you know all the ways you could inflict violence on the human body in a fight scene, but I assure you, The Night Comes for Us has something to teach you about the art of the splatter fight scene. From director Timo Tjhajanto, this Netflix action pic is packed to the brim with bloody, brutal combat. The best feature film from Tjahjanto to date, The Night Comes for Us is a relentless showcase of action and carnage, rooted on the story of a criminal turned war criminal looking for a little redemption. The cast is packed with familiar faces for action fans, especially fans of The Raid films, who will recognize Joe Taslim, Julie Estelle, Zack Lee, and of course, Iko Uwais, who takes a supporting role but still shows up to work in some incredible fight scenes. And if fight scenes are what you’re looking for in a good action movie, there’s no shortage in this one, which stages wall-to-wall combat in a breathless, relentlessly entertaining showcase. This one will earn a lot of attention for its shared cast with The Raid, but damn if it isn’t impressive in its own right. — Haleigh Foutch

RELATED: The Best Action Movies on HBO Max Right Now

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

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Image via Universal Pictures

Director: Edgar Wright

Writers: Michael Bacall & Edgar Wright

Cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Alison Pill, Mark Webber, Johnny Simmons, Ellen Wong, Kieran Culkin, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, and Jason Schwartzman.

Edgar Wright’s adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s outstanding comic didn’t find much of an audience upon its release, but over the years it has grown into a cult classic. The movie follows Scott Pilgrim (Cera), a sweet if slightly selfish and misguided young man who falls for delivery girl Ramona Flowers (Winstead). He can only continue to date her if he defeats her seven evil exes. Scott’s comfortable with the video game framework, but the film is really about two people discovering they have to get over their own baggage if they’re going to find new love. Wright decorates the whole picture with video game tropes and fun little nods, but never loses sight of the core romantic story. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is funny, effervescent, and only gets better on repeat viewings. – Matt Goldberg

Olympus Has Fallen

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Image via FilmDistrict

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Writers: Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt

Cast: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Dylan McDermott, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Radha Mitchell, and Cole Hauser

Boy, I hope you like head-stabbing because Michael Banning is one of those “particular set of skills” guys, and above all, those skills involve stabbing some motherfuckers in the head. A lot. Olympus Has Fallen is one brutal, sometimes downright nasty and mean-spirited action movie, led by Gerard Butler as an absolute force of head-stabbery who winds up trapped in the White House during a terrorist attack and sets out to protect the president from the nefarious intruders. Excessive, ultra-violent and profane, Olympus Has Fallen is the kind of hard-R action movie we don’t see much of these days, and director Antoine Fuqua revels in the excesses, delivering a relentless action movie that’s easily among the most extra of the Die Hard inspired “trapped with terrorists” subgenre. — Haleigh Foutch

Avengement

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Image via Samuel Goldwyn Films

Director: Jesse V. Johnson

Writers: Jesse V. Johnson and Stu Small

Cast: Scott Adkins, Craig Fairbrass, Thomas Turgoose, Nick Moran, Kiersten Wareing

The main draw here is watching Scott Adkins get into all kinds of brawls. Bar brawls, prison brawls, any ol’ brawl will do, really. If that sounds good to you, then settle in for Avengement, the latest collaboration between DTV action champion Adkins and his Savage Dog and Accident Man director Jesse V. Johnson. This time around, Adkins and Johnson are clearly riffing on the Guy Ritchie/Matthew Vaughn brand of British crime thrillers, with a lot more roundhouse kicks. The film’s structure is at first confounding and ultimately pretty satisfying, following Adkins’ Cain Burgess, fresh out of prison, to a local pub where he holds the men responsible for his horrifying prison term to task for their bad deeds, jumping from flashback to flashback while he holds them at gunpoint. Few action performers can match the physical prowess Adkins brings to the table and with veteran stuntman Johnson, Adkins gets plenty of steadily shot scenes, montages, and set-pieces to show off his skills. If you’re a fan of DTV actioners, this one’s a gem with some genuinely surprising moments of violence. — Haleigh Foutch

Triple Frontier

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Image via Netflix

Director: J.C. Chandor

Writers: J.C. Chandor and Mark Boal

Cast: Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Pedro Pascal, Garrett Hedlund

If Triple Frontier isn’t your dad’s favorite movie, that just means your dad hasn’t seen Triple Frontier yet. Directed by J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year) from a script he co-wrote with Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty), Triple Frontier is basically the man-cave of movies; part military drama, part action-packed heist, and all the story of men who have mad bro-love for each other. Oscar Isaac stars as Santiago “Pope” Garcia, a DEA agent who gets the old Special Forces band back together to rob a drug lord’s jungle hideaway. Joining Isaac is the similarly strong-jawed crew of Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Pedro Pascal, and Garrett Hedlund. The kicker of Triple Frontier is that there’s actually a good amount of brains under all that brawn; it’s an explosions-and-helicopters flick first, yeah, but it also has a lot to say about what happens to professionally violent men once the gunfire stops. — Vinnie Mancuso

Beyond Skyline

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Image via XYZ Films

Writer/Director: Liam O’Donnell

Cast: Frank Grillo, Jonny Weston, Bojana Novakovic, Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Antonio Fargas, Lindsey Morgan, Betty Gabriel

Beyond Skyline is a special kind of WTF. Of all the movies to spawn a franchise, I never would have guessed the much-derided 2010 sci-fi pic Skyline could pull it off, much less that the follow-up film would be such a gleeful, globe-trotting action-packed adventure. A proud, pulpy B-movie featuring aliens that rip the brain right out of your skull, Beyond Skyline stars Frank Grillo as a cop at odds with his son (Jonny Weston) when an alien attack sends them scrambling for their lives. Once the aliens make contact, the film ricochets through settings and characters at a breakneck pace, packing in a paperback book series worth of sci-fi lunacy into a single feature film that travels from subterranean tunnels to the nuclear wasteland of Los Angeles to an alien ship, and all the way to Laos, where Mark teams with rebels to battle the alien threat. You’ve got Frank Grillo playing hero with a baby in one hand and a space-blaster on the other, Antonio Fargas as a Vietnam vet who calls everybody “bitch”, Iko Uwais and Yaya Ruhain beating the shit out of giant aliens, and there’s even an honest-to-god Kaiju battle. Beyond Skyline won’t be for everyone, but if you love a bananas B-movie, the feature debut from writer-director Liam O’Donnell ticks all the right boxes. – Haleigh Foutch

Wheelman

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Image via Netflix

Director: Jeremy Rush

Writer: Jeremy Rush

Cast: Frank Grillo, Garret Dillahunt, Caitlin Carmichael, Shea Whigam, Wendy Moniz

Frank Grillo should be one of cinema’s leading action stars. Cut from 1970s cloth, Grillo is an old-school everyman tough guy; a real blue-collar badass. Grillo can grimace and load a gun with the best of ‘em, but unlike the dominant figures in the Western action hero tradition, Grillo is also a trained martial artist who brings impressive physical command to his street-smart charisma. With Wheelman, Grillo takes on a different kind of challenge for an action star — a performance told almost entirely in close-up, from the confines of a single vehicle. That doesn’t leave a lot of room to throw punches or fire heavy artillery, but Grillo and writer-director Jeremy Rush make the most of the minimalist set-up, turning out a gripping, wisely calibrated B-movie about one high-octane night of crime that blasts off from the word go and never taps the brakes. — Haleigh Foutch

Ip Man

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Image via Mandarin Films

Director: Wilson Yip

Writer: Edmond Wong

Cast: Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Lynn Hung, Siu-Wong Fan, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi

This 2008 martial arts essential stars Donnie Yen as Ip Man, the legendary Wing Chun master who went on to train Bruce Lee. A wealthy martial artist living the dream life, Ip Man’s life is thrown into chaos when the Japanese occupy his hometown during wartime. On the surface level, Ip Man is an opportunity to watch one of the best living martial artists play one of the most famed Kung Fu masters of all time – and it certainly delivers on the fight scenes that come with that premise, including an instantly iconic Wing Chun vs. Black Belts set-piece. But Ip Man is also a fantastic character-driven period drama rooted in history and apparent affection for the martial arts genre, and Yen is extraordinary, not just for the athleticism and showmanship of his choreography work but for his charismatic, commanding performance. — Haleigh Foutch

Kickboxer: Retaliation

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Image via Well Go USA

Look, Kickboxer: Retaliation isn’t going to win any awards, but there’s a time and place for movies like these. The place is my TV screen and the time is always. Kickboxer: Vengeance’s Kurt Sloan (Alain Moussi) returns along with his mentor Master Durand (Jean Claude Van Damme) after avenging the death of his brother in the ring. Trouble is, he killed the guy, which means he’s now locked up in a Thailand prison, where he’s constantly battling it out with his fellow inmates and taking beatings from the guards. But when his wife is kidnapped, he’s forced back in the ring against an undefinable foe (Game of Thrones mountain Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson). In the Kickboxer tradition, the plot is paper-thin, the training montages are extensive, the kicks are high, and most importantly, the fight scenes are cream of the crop. It’s a fun, dumb, ass-kicking movie with a decent sense of scope and scale, and it shouldn’t be understated how fun it is that it basically lets Van Damme play Daredevil. — Haleigh Foutch

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