There aren't many constants nowadays, but Netflix is sure trying hard. And with its assortment of action movies, it can't be denied that there is something here for every action aficionado. The trick is finding the gems amid a morass of never-ending (and we mean never-ending) content. That is precisely what this list is for. Not all action movies are made equally. What one person considers an action movie, another person might consider a war movie, and still another might consider it a thriller. You see what I'm saying?
The films on this list are action movies. Sure, they might stray into thriller, drama, sci-fi and other categories, but at their core they are all about explosions, bullets and pithy dialogue. You know, all the things we want when we watch an action movie. And what would a list like this be without such names as Stallone, Gibson, Diesel, Smith, etc?
The films we have assembled here are an eclectic bunch. Which is as much a statement about the action movie genre as it is about Netflix. So sit back, buckle in and get ready to be taken on a wild ride. As we stated, action films cut across so many different genres and sensibilities. Whatever your taste there's bound to be something on this list that hits you. Hard.
Lethal Weapon (1987)
Is there any better buddy/action movie than Lethal Weapon? I know people are going to have a hard time with this question. However, as good as something like Tango & Cash is, what tops Mel Gibson and Danny Glover doing their collective things as Riggs and Murtaugh? Sure, the plot of this film is pretty pedantic (sorry, Shane Black... your best script was Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). Yet, it is done in such a strong way by the venerable Richard Donner that everybody involved elevated this thing. Also, use your Netflix scrubber and watch the scenes of Gary Busey's bad guy. Talk about transforming yourself for a role! Watch here.
Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)
And if the first Lethal Weapon doesn't kick your ass than Lethal Weapon 2 surely will. Again, the plot is pretty pedestrian. However, the story centers around some South African baddies and that was something that hadn't really been on screen, in an buddy/action film, before. This movie ups the action ante. It is filled with so many good scenes, so many bullets, that one has to ask themselves, "How did Riggs survive?" Again, thanks to Netflix we can count the bullets and figure it out. Watch here.
Alright, apparently this film has been hated on the internet. What a surprise, right? Well, Will Smith, Joel Edgerton and Director David Ayer have essentially merged Training Day with Alien Nation, to make one of the most interesting films of 2017. It probably isn't going to win any awards. It most likely will continue to be vilified. However, Bright is getting a sequel and in it's own way, continuing to allow Netflix to put it's thumb in the eye of all the cathedrals of cinema. And with 27% on the Tomatometer that means that 20-30 years from now this film will be classic! Watch here.
Kung Fu Yoga (2016)
Jackie Chan leads this action/adventure fest that boasts a really bad title. With a name like Kung Fu Yoga, it would be very easy not to take this film seriously. It follows two professors that set about finding a lost treasure and find themselves on an adventure beyond their wild dreams. Of course with Jackie Chan involved, you know that there is going to be a far share of butt-kicking action to make this a film that you never dream of deleting from your Netflix que. Watch here.
When xXx debuted in 2002 it seemed like Vin Diesel was going to be THE action star to beat. Now? Unless he's driving a car doing things that are virtually impossible, not too many people want to see his movies. That said, you want to see xXx. Why? Well, there's the idea of seeing Xander Cage fulfill all his promise as he fights people with "PlayStation" tactics. Don't even get me started on the scene of him trying to outrun an avalanche! Sure, xXx is silly. Yes, it is filled with explosions and gun battles that no mortal could survive. However, you're still thinking of Vin Diesel as mortal. And that's YOUR problem. Watch here.
National Treasure (1999)
Does it really matter what the plot of this Nic Cage action/adventure fest is? Sure he's on the hunt to find some incredible Templar thing in National Treasure, but the real fun is seeing him solve problem after problem. Yes, they are trying to ape Raiders of the Lost Ark. Sure, there's a lot that happens in this film that feels just a bit too coincidental. If nothing else, by offering this film Netflix has reminded us just how amazing a producer Jerry Bruckheimer is. And in an odd way, after streaming this film, you might just get really excited for Top Gun: Maverick, Bad Boys 4, and even National Treasure 3! Watch here.
Death Sentence (2007)
Kevin Bacon has never been better than he was here in this Death Wish-like film. Death Sentence sees Kevin Bacon deal with a major loss. From there he decides that he must protect his family at all costs. Okay, this action/thriller from director James Wan is a hypnotic parable about how an eye for an eye leaves us all blind. Netflix has really given users a gem as Bacon is mesmerizing in his portrayal of man who will stop at nothing for the ones he loves. Watch here.
Check Point (2017)
America is being invaded and Bill Goldberg along with Kenny Johnson are going to protect us. This is the plot of Checkpoint. Alright, Netflix isn't really breaking the mold here but there's something interesting and unique with this film. The idea of homegrown terrorists might seem like a wild idea but in today's day and age anything's possible. In that regard this film almost (I said ALMOST) plays as a documentary. Also filling out this cast are Fred Williamson and William Forsythe. Need we say more? Watch here.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
Chris Pratt and the team are back for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. This rollicking action movie can also take credit for making cassette tapes cool again. Okay, while this is an action film with all the requisite battle scenes, explosions and fun quips, it's also the story of a family trying to stay together. Even more than that, it is a sci-fi coming of age story about the history of Star-Lord. Director James Gunn (is there a more perfect name for an action movie director?) delivers the fun and the visceral all in one excellent pop culture fell swoop. Watch here.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Being lauded as better than The Last Jedi, Rogue One is so much more than action film. At the same time, it is bristling with action. With scenes of Felicity Jones and Diego Luna avoiding certain peril (and then embracing it), we also get a Star Wars movie without a title crawl AND an battling image of Darth Vader the likes of which we'd never really seen before. Add to this the action scenes that are mixed within and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story really ups the ante for not just the Star Wars saga but the action genre overall. Does Netflix know how to pick em? Watch here.
Batman Begins (2005)
Quite possibly the greatest thing about this film being on this Netflix list is how little action there really is in Christopher Nolan's opening Batman film. Rather, in Batman Begins, we get to see Christian Bale aka Bruce Wayne aka Batman, come to terms with who he is as he moves to train with Liam Neeson so he can eventually battle Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) and the League of Shadows that terrorize Gotham. So singular was Nolan's vision, so imbued is this action film with gravitas, that viewers didn't care that they were essentially seeing a 2 hour plus news special about the world in 2005. Watch here.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
We love our action heroes to be bigger than life. In the case of Captain America: Civil War we get that in spades. Robert Downey, Jr. and Chris Evans lead separate teams that include Black Widow, Winter Soldier, War Machine, et al. The fact that they are against each other (all stemming from a dispute over The Avengers having more or less government oversight), plays quite nicely into the whole action story. Filled with some of the most intense action scenes ever seen on screen, the battle at the airport hangar might be the best action movie battle to date. Your TV may not be big enough to contain this one and Netflix doesn't care! Watch here.
Remember when Michael Keaton uttered the words, "I'm Batman!" Well, now because of Netflix you can relive that moment forever (or, for as long as the streaming titan continues to license it). We all know the story of Batman. And yes, in many ways, Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale's take on the caped crusader is better. However, Batman is still a great movie with Jack Nicholson's Joker continuing to be a sight to behold. A lot of films from the 1980s haven't aged that nicely. Well, Tim Burton's iteration of Batman hasn't really aged much at all. Watch here
The Longest Day (1962)
D-Day is the subject of this 1962 classic, The Longest Day. With a cast that includes John Wayne, Robert Ryan and Richard Burton this film is a cut above many of the films on this list. It is for that reason that Netflix probably includes it amongst their offerings. The fact that we get the Allied and the German perspective only lends more weight to what a special film this is. Watch here.
The Gunman (2015)
Sean Penn's first real action movie of course couldn't be of the normal variety. The Gunman is an artful tale from director Pierre Morel (Taken). It would be easy to see this as Penn's go at trying to be Liam Neeson, but there is a lot more subtly at work. The fact that this cast also includes Javier Bardem, Idris Elba and the always good Mark Rylance only underscores what a special film The Gunman is. The story? Oh you know, Penn's character kills someone and now is the target of many people who want him dead. Don't let this film's 17% on Rotten Tomatoes turn you off... Sean Penn (and the aforementioned actors) are the reason to see this film. Netflix knows that, trust me. Watch here.
Way of the Gun (2000)
This near byzantine action/thriller from Christopher McQuarrie (screenwriter of The Usual Suspects) is one of the most underrated action films of the 2000s. With Ryan Phillippe, Benicio Del Toro, Juliette Lewis and James Caan filling out this cast, The Way Of the Gun is unlike any action film you've probably ever seen. Basically, two criminals kidnap a woman who is carrying a baby for a very questionable person. So much of this film plays like a business class on hostage negotiation. There are many scenes with nary a bullet shot. However, when they are The Way of the Gun kicks ass! Watch here
Death Race 2050 (2017)
Roger Corman really had a hand in the 2017 version of his classic film. Death Race 2050 looks at a world that is so filled with people, a death race is created to pare the numbers down. Again, given how crazy the world has become today, I would not be surprised if a politician somewhere proposed an idea like this! Would they really want it to happen? Probably not but they would do it because it would give them enough fame to make the daily news cycle and get elected for something bigger. Death Race 2050 is filled with action and thus perfect for the Netflix brand. Rev it up and enjoy! Watch here.