Mental Floss

The 12 Best Action Movies on Netflix Right Now

Jake Rossen
The Night Comes for Us (2018) takes action to bloody new levels.
The Night Comes for Us (2018) takes action to bloody new levels. / Netflix

With more than 150 million customers across the world, Netflix keeps growing by making sure it offers something for everyone. In addition to a varied selection of horror, sci-fi, documentaries, and dramas, the service also curates a solid library of action films. If you’re in the mood for some kinetic thrills, check out 12 of the best action movies you can stream right now.

1. In the Line of Fire (1993)

Clint Eastwood delivers a career-best thriller in this exciting tale of a Secret Service agent who failed to prevent John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963. Thirty years later, he's up against another killer (John Malkovich) with his sights set on the current Commander-in-Chief. At one point, studio executives were hoping to rewrite it for Tom Cruise—which would have removed the JFK connection by making the character much younger—but cooler heads prevailed.

2. Top Gun (1986)

Tom Cruise feels the need for speed in this '80s staple that pits his daredevil flying ace against rivals, instructors, and the charms of Kelly McGillis. The Navy used the popularity of the film as a recruiting tool.

3. The Ice Road (2021)

Liam Neeson continues his middle-age action hero ways in this clever thriller about a trucker who agrees to tackle a dangerous job transporting rescue equipment across frozen terrain to free trapped miners running out of air. Neeson said he prepared for the role by tailing along with a truck driver and "by watching a couple [episodes] of Ice Road Truckers."

4. Extraction (2020)

Chris Hemsworth stars in this Netflix original about a mercenary combing Bangladesh for the kidnapped son of a drug dealer. Joe Russo (co-director of numerous Marvel films, including 2019's Avengers: Endgame) wrote the script. And while you may think it was a venture outside of the comic book world, it really wasn't: The movie is based on the Ciudad comic Joe Russo co-wrote with brother Anthony Russo and Ande Parks that was illustrated by Fernando León González.

5. Triple Frontier (2019)

A tight-knit squad of ex-military operatives decide to round up their own pension plan and steal the cash of a drug lord hiding out in South America. The heist puts the soldiers (Ben Affleck, Pedro Pascal, and Oscar Issac among them) into convoluted territory, both literally and morally. According to director J.C. Chandor, Tom Hanks was originally attached to the movie but felt he had ultimately aged out of the story.

6. The Debt Collector (2018)

With screen senseis Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal in the twilight of their careers, the martial arts leading man is on the wane. One of the few to keep the genre alive is Scott Adkins. Here, he's a martial arts instructor forced to take up duties as a bill collector for organized crime. The plot, however, is irrelevant: Watch it for Adkins and his go-for-broke fight scenes. (Despite his physicality, the actor got his start in British soap operas like Holby City and EastEnders).

7. Blade (1998)

Wesley Snipes sinks his teeth into one of the first big-screen Marvel adventures to make a splash. As half-vampire, half-human Blade, Snipes brushes up against Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) with a bloodlust for the human race. Snipes nearly made Black Panther in the 1990s: When that fell through, he moved on to this project.

8. Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

Secret Service agent Gerard Butler is out to protect president Aaron Eckhart when the White House comes under siege. Morgan Freeman co-stars. A film with a similar premise, White House Down, was also released in 2013.

9. Wheelman (2017)

Frank Grillo stars in this claustrophobic action-thriller about a getaway driver who leaves the dirty work to the criminals who retain his services. When things go awry during a bank heist and a mysterious caller begins ordering him to reroute the money, Grillo is left to navigate the streets—and an increasingly dangerous double-cross—by himself. Like the movie, the production itself moved fast: After Grillo read and liked the script, the film was shooting within the month.

10. Ip Man (2008)

Donnie Yen shows off both his acting chops and his martial arts prowess in this fictionalized study of Ip Man, Bruce Lee's instructor. When a Japanese general terrorizes a Chinese community, Yen springs into action. The film launched a franchise: In 2016's Ip Man 3, Yen faced off against Mike Tyson and accidentally broke the former boxer's finger by blocking a strike with his elbow.

11. The Outpost (2020)

Isolated on an American military base in Afghanistan, troops must fend off an attack by Taliban forces while vastly outnumbered. Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones, and Orlando Bloom star in this riveting war drama based on a true story.

Soldier Stoney Portis, who was present for the conflict, told The New York Times that the film was a faithful account of what transpired there. "Understandable discrepancies emerge when a book that covers four years at a remote mountain outpost is compressed into a two-hour production, but the film unquestionably captures the essence of the soldiers’ sacrifices, as well as the love we feel and the sorrow we share," he said.

12. Cliffhanger (1993)

Sylvester Stallone scored one of his bigger non-Rocky or Rambo hits as Gabe Walker, a mountain climber and rescuer who walks away after a tragedy. When John Lithgow and his band of villains demands escort through rough terrain with their stolen money, Gabe has to return to a job that's more dangerous than ever. Despite the nature of the role, Stallone had a fear of heights: He eventually worked his way up to standing on a peak 13,000 feet high.

A version of this story ran in 2019; it has been updated for 2022.