Best Action Movies on Netflix Right Now
Michael Bay’s out of control, completely bonkers blockbuster – about a group of deep sea oil drillers enlisted by NASA to fly into space, burrow into a giant asteroid, and blow it up with nuclear bombs – is just as big and entertaining as you remember. Every single moment is just as huge as the last, even if it makes no sense, creating an exhausting but undeniably thrilling experience.
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence star as wise-cracking cops who get wrapped up in a high-stakes, high-octane investigation of a massive drug trafficking ring, in a film that somehow – despite its obvious action-packed insanity – plays like Michael Bay’s most normal movie. It’s a buddy cop film with humor, style and kick butt action, and it’s easy to see why it shot the filmmaker to stardom, and helped cement Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s reputation as movie stars.
Battle Royale I
Kinji Fukasaku’s exhilarating, bloody, insightful and disturbing sci-fi action thriller Battle Royale tells the story of a group of high school kids who get dragged to an island by a fascistic government, and are forced to kill each other until only one remains. It’s an impossibly dark premise, brought to vivid and horrifying life, with keen attention to the rich cast of characters and the obvious underlying allegory. The sequel, Battle Royale II, isn’t quite as flawlessly conceived, but its tale of a group of teens who turn against the government to protest their mistreatment is also bold, relevant, and excitingly filmed.
The Bourne Ultimatum
The third Bourne movie is, arguably, the one that got it right. Matt Damon once again stars as an amnesiac secret agent who turns against his own government when they try to kill him. The plot is dense, the action intense, and the craft put into realizing this slick thriller is impeccable. Big revelations, heavy drama, and as always, amazing fights and chases.
The Castle of Cagliostro
Before he became the universally acclaimed director of films like My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, Hayao Miyazaki directed The Castle of Cagliostro, a ripping adventure story about a charismatic thief named Lupin III who stumbles across a wild conspiracy involving counterfeit money and kidnapping. Miyazaki’s trademark vibrancy is already in full swing, and the movie still feels wondrous and timeless.
You know how some movies are “Die Hard on a train” or “Die Hard on a boat?” Well, Joe Lynch’s Everly is Die Hard in one room. Salma Hayek stars as a woman who fights back against her kidnappers, who keep coming after her in one deadly wave after another, as the room gets increasingly damaged and filled with bigger weapons. Hayek carries the whole film easily, and the clever concept never runs out of gas.
John Travolta is on the hunt for the deadly terrorist Nicolas Cage, but when he finally catches his prey, Travolta discovers that in order to foil Cage’s latest plot he’ll have to go undercover… as Nicolas Cage. The science-fiction element of swapping faces is absurd but John Woo’s breathless film moves past it quickly, giving the film’s stars ample opportunity to chew scenes and then shoot it to pieces. The action is first-rate, and the performances are top notch too.
Kill Bill: Vol. 1
Uma Thurman stars as The Bride, a woman wronged by her assassin ex-boyfriend and his gang of vicious killers, who goes off on a massive, sprawling, bloody revenge spree over the course of two epic action movies that are packed with clever homages to grindhouse classics of all kinds. Thurman rules the screen here, and the fight scenes are some of the best of the decade.
Lethal Weapon 1-4
All the Lethal Weapon movies are currently available on Netflix, and although some are better than others, they’re all entertaining thrill rides. The original mismatched cop action/comedy is still the best overall film, Lethal Weapon 2 still has the best action, Lethal Weapon 3 is a disposable but entertaining hoot, and Lethal Weapon 4… well, at least Jet Li is cool in it. The whole franchise relies on the seemingly effortless chemistry between Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, who are probably the best buddy cop pair in movie history.
Paul W.S. Anderson took the original, iconic, ultraviolent video game and made an enjoyable PG-13 kids matinee out of it, but it’s easy to see why kids flocked to theaters, and why Mortal Kombat still has so much nostalgic appeal. The plot is simple but effective, the fights are varying degrees of awesome (the Johnny Cage/Scorpion showdown is great by any standard), and the monsters are pretty darned nifty. It’s still one of the best video game movies… for better or worse.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The first “tar Wars Story is, first and foremost, an action packed war movie about a team of mismatched warriors teaming up to steal the Death Star plans from the Empire in what may be an impossible mission. The pathos of the better Star Wars movies is largely missing, because there isn’t much time to explore all of these characters and their feelings. But they are cool icons, on a cool mission, and they get wrapped up in a cool storyline. Maybe it’s not the best film in the franchise, but Rogue is a good one.