If you’re craving a sensory experience, nothing beats an action film. In addition to a varied selection of horror, sci-fi, documentaries, and dramas, Netflix also curates a solid library of explosive titles. If you’re in the mood for some kinetic thrills, check out 15 of the best action movies you can stream right now.
1. Bullet Train (2022)
Brad Pitt and Aaron Taylor-Johnson headline this colorful spectacle about a Japanese bullet train stuffed with assassins, most of whom have the affable “Ladybug” (Pitt) in their sights. The film is based on the 2010 novel Maria Beetle by author Kotaro Isaka, though it didn’t get an English translation until 2021.
2. Non-Stop (2014)
Liam Neeson takes to the skies as an air marshal who tries to thwart an anonymous killer threatening to off passengers unless his ransom demands are met. Producer Joel Silver is also responsible for another contained thriller: 1988's Die Hard.
3. 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 demand to be escorted through rough terrain with their stolen money, Gabe has to return to a job that’s more dangerous than ever. Stallone had a fear of heights, but he eventually worked his way up to standing on a peak 13,000 feet high.
4. RRR (2022)
Don’t let the three-hour running time dissuade you from checking out the best action movie of 2022. In this runaway Telugu-language hit from India, buddies Komaram Bheem (N.T. Rama Rao Jr.) and Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan) team up to oppose British Raj rule. While the two revolutionaries really existed, their exploits in this over-the-top epic are entirely fictional. The “Tollywood” hit has become the most-watched film from India on Netflix to date. It was also the most expensive film in the country’s history at $69 million. From CGI tigers to explosive dance numbers, it’s all on the screen.
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5. The Raid: Redemption (2011)
Director Gareth Evans carved out a career for himself in this kinetic action classic about a cop (Iko Uwais) who must fight his way through increasingly dangerous floors of a building to escape the wrath of a drug cartel. Evans got the idea for the movie after working on a documentary about the martial art Silat. That was also how he met Uwais, a Silat practitioner who was working as a delivery driver at the time.
6. Clear and Present Danger (1994)
Harrison Ford returns as Jack Ryan, a character he first took on in 1992’s Patriot Games. (Previously, Alec Baldwin portrayed Ryan in 1990’s The Hunt for Red October.) This time, Ryan is up against the CIA and a drug cartel. The Tom Clancy novel it’s based on had to undergo some revisions: Ryan barely appears in the first half of the 700-page novel.
7. Gamer (2009)
Gerard Butler is stuck in a game in which players control real people. The studio considered titles like Game God and Citizen Game before settling on Gamer.
8. The Old Guard (2020)
Greg Rucka adapted his own comic about immortal mercenaries, led by Charlize Theron’s Andy. A sequel has already been shot.
9. 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.”
10. 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; Fernando León González was the illustrator.
11. 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 Isaac 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.
12. Conan the Barbarian (1982)
Arnold Schwarzenegger proved his big-screen appeal in this adaptation of the Robert E. Howard pulp stories. The actor was originally supposed to narrate the film but producers believed his accent was too thick.
13. Heat (1995)
Michael Mann’s riveting action drama about a bank robber (Robert De Niro) locked in a cat-and-mouse game with a cop (Al Pacino) is widely regarded as one of the better films of the 1990s. The story is loosely based on a real-life encounter between Mann’s friend, Chicago detective Chuck Adamson, and criminal Neil McCauley. Mann later penned a novel sequel, Heat 2, that he plans to adapt into a film.
14. 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.
15. Black Hawk Down (2001)
A rescue mission in Somalia goes awry for U.S. soldiers trapped behind enemy lines. The film is based on a true story recounted in the 1999 book Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War by Mark Bowden.
A version of this story ran in 2019; it has been updated for 2023.