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The 25 Best Action Movies on Netflix In 2021

You know what gets our blood pumping? A great action flick. The explosions, the car chases, the high-stakes heists, the crazy fight choreography — all the hallmarks of a cinematic adrenaline rush. Live vicariously through your favorite heroes (or villains) by streaming the best action movies on Netflix for 2021. We’ve also rounded up some of the best action movies on Amazon Prime worth watching.

Looking for even more films to stream online? We’ve found the all-around best Netflix movies, Amazon Prime movies, Disney+ movies, and movies on Hulu to watch this month.

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Stargate (1994)

Dr. Daniel Jackson (left) and Cl. Jack O'Neil (right) in Stargate.

This underrated 1990s flick is a seriously great way to nerd out to sci-fi, mythology, and inter-dimensional travel all at the same time. Though the overall experience is somewhat hampered by one or two performances in the movie, the action and timely special effects are a great way to enjoy the other great performances from Kurt Russell and James Spader.

Director: Roland Emmerich
Main Cast: Kurt Russell, James Spader, Jaye Davidson
Runtime: 116 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.1

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Total Recall (1990)

Quaid (left) and Lori (right) in Total Recall.

If you’re looking to watch more of the classics, this early ’90s film is a great place to start. The story follows Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who has been having a recurring dream in which he journeys to Mars. To find out more about this dream, he purchases a holiday at a corporation that deals with memory implants. Naturally, Quaid remembers that he is actually a secret agent and must take down the evil Mars administration. This is one of the best Arnold Schwarzenegger movies streaming on Netflix right now.

Director: Paul Verhoeven
Main Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside
Runtime: 113 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.5

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Inception (2010)

Cobb (left) and Fischer (right) at a bar in Inception.

In a conceptual roller coaster of consistently increasing depth, Inception is Nolan’s most popular mind-bending action movie that will make you question consciousness itself. A thief named Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) who specializes in stealing secrets from people’s subconscious is tasked with an impossible feat: Plant an idea into someone’s mind. Though at times a bit over the top, this is one of the best Christopher Nolan films ever, featuring a solid cast and use of creative film tools to wow audiences.

Director: Christopher Nolan
Main Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elliot Paige
Runtime: 148 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.8

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Stardust (2007)

Lamia casts a spell in Stardust.

If you find yourself in need of some fantasy action and romance, Stardust delivers all that and more. The plot follows Tristan Thorn, a young man living in a small countryside bordering a magical land. After professing his love for the village beauty, he sets out on a quest into the magical kingdom to retrieve a fallen star for her. But when he finds out the fallen star isn’t just some lump of rock, things get complicated.

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Main Cast
: Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Mark Strong, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer
Runtime
: 132 minutes
IMDb Rating
: 8.2

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Real Steel (2011)

Charlie Kenton (left), Atom, and Max Kenton (right) and a boxing ring in Real Steel.

With great visual effects and a fun sort of video game theme, Real Steel is no ordinary boxing movie that is sure to entertain. In the future, boxing has become a needless pursuit, at least for humans. When Charlie Kenton’s (Hugh Jackman) life as a boxer is cut short by a change in the sport, he is forced to adapt and adopt his own prize-fighting robot, simultaneously rebuilding his fragmented relationship with his son. This robot fighting movie has all the action you need.

Director: Shawn Levy
Main Cast: Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly, Dakota Goyo
Runtime: 127 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.1

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Mute (2018)

Neon lights and a crowd of people around a robot in Mute.

Mute is one of those films that has all of the pieces of a great sci-fi action movie, but still falls short. It has great actors, a beautiful setting, and an intriguing plot so it’s still entirely worth watching. The story follows a mute bartender who ends up taking on the city’s gangsters in an attempt to track down his missing partner. Oh and did we mention it has Paul Rudd in it?

Director: Duncan Jones
Main Cast: Alexander Skarsgard, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux
Runtime: 126 minutes
IMDb Rating: 5.5

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Crime

Uncut Gems (2019)

Howard Ratner with his phone in Uncut Gems.

A Safdie brothers treasure, Uncut Gems is an emotional and gritty thriller starring Adam Sandler who shines in a new genre of torrential anxiety. With a legendary score designed to keep the audience’s rapt attention, we follow a crafty, talkative jeweler through the streets of New York as he attempts to win big, or else lose it all.

Directors: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie
Main Cast: Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, Idina Menzel
Runtime: 135 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.4

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Pineapple Express (2008)

Dale Denton (left) and Saul (right) in Pineapple Express.

In what is one of the best Seth Rogen movies and a big hit with the advocates of the green, Pineapple Express established a new era of stoner comedy mixed with outright violence and absolute hilarity. A process server named Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) witnesses his next “client” brutally murder somebody in his home. When it turns out that “client” is actually the top dog of the local underground marijuana industry, Dale and his regular dealer have to get lost or get angry.

Director: David Gordon Green
Main Cast: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Gary Cole
Runtime: 111 minutes
IMDb Rating: 6.9

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The Irishman (2019)

Russell Bufalino (left) and Frank Sheeran (right) at a bar in The Irishman.

This story follows Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran (Robert De Niro), a former labor union official and hitman as he recalls his past. With an emphasis on the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), this biographical crime drama is tremendous and worth a watch. The Irishman, a Netflix original film, was nominated for 10 Academy Awards in 2020.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Main Cast: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci
Runtime: 210 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.8

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The Night Comes for Us (2018)

Ito (left) and Arian (right) covered in blood in The Night Comes for Us.

This relatively recent new-noir action flick also comes from Indonesia. Ito, a deadly and powerful gangster, has a 180-degree change of heart after he rescues Reina, a young girl, from the remains of her massacred village. The resulting carnage — and there’s a lot of carnage — revolves around one man battling his former gang members to save one girl and, in some ways, himself.

Director: Timo Tjahjanto
Main Cast: Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle, Joe Taslim
Runtime: 121 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.0

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Triple Frontier (2019)

Redfly with his horse in Triple Frontier.

This action-adventure movie follows a crew of ex-military Americans who plan on robbing a known cartel member and setting themselves up with the retirement funds their jobs did not provide.

Director: J.C. Chandor
Main Cast: Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam
Runtime: 125 minutes
IMDb Rating: 6.4

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War

Da 5 Bloods (2020)

Paul (left) and David (right) in Da 5 Bloods.

Spike Lee’s latest film is the story of four Black veterans who return to Vietnam after the war. Battling the elements, the group sets out in search of the remains of their fallen squad leader and the promise of buried treasure.

Director: Spike Lee
Main Cast: Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters
Runtime: 154 minutes
IMDb Rating: 6.5

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The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

Josey Wales in The Outlaw Josey Wales.

In a late 1970s western based on the book by Forrest Carter, The Outlaw Josey Wales takes a unique look at the time immediately after the Civil War. The movie jumps into action at once as (spoiler alert) the wife and son of Josey Wales (Clint Eastwood) are murdered by rogue Union soldiers and his house is burned down. Thirsty for revenge, Wales hunts them down after joining with some Confederates who are still keeping up the fight. Wales refuses to surrender and flees to Texas to try and start a new life, but the price on his head is too big for him to just walk away and he ultimately has to confront his pursuers.

Director: Clint Eastwood
Main Cast: Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Chief Dan George
Runtime: 135 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.8

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No Game No Life: Zero (2017)

Riku in No Game No Life: Zero.

This isn’t your typical war movie. Based on the novel series of the same name, No Game, No Life: Zero tells the story of humanity’s struggle through the great war. Despite being the only race without magic, humans must use the true power of intellect to survive. This movie is actually the prequel to a popular anime series on Netflix.

Director: Atsuko Ishizuka
Main Cast: Alexandra Bedford, Jessica Boone, Ricardo Contreras
Runtime: 106 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.5

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Espionage/Bounty Hunter

Extraction (2020)

Tyler Rake with his rifle in Extraction.

Lots of violence and big explosions, Extraction is a whole lot of fun and one of the best-choreographed action movies of last year. When black-market mercenary Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) is hired to save an imprisoned warlord’s son, the stakes rise exponentially as more and more local gunrunners and traffickers learn of the situation. Fulfilling the vision of veteran stunt coordinator/first-time director Sam Hargrave is quite an accomplishment, which makes it a contender for one of the best Chris Hemsworth movies if you don’t include the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Director: Sam Hargrave
Main Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Bryon Lerum, Ryder Lerum
Runtime: 116 minutes
IMDb Rating: 6.7

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6 Underground (2019)

The main cast of 6 Underground.

No need to add this to your list of best Ryan Reynolds movies — or any “best of” list for that matter — but it’s a great visual spectacle if you’re familiar with Michael Bay’s line of work. Six individuals with exceptional skills are handpicked to delete their past and devote their lives to foiling the intent of supervillains, free from the restrictions of typical well-doers that could well start a world war with this behavior.

Director: Michael Bay
Main Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Mélanie Laurent, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo
Runtime: 128 minutes
IMDb Rating: 6.1

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Mr. Right (2015)

Martha McKay (left) and Francis (right) with a drink in Mr. Right.

I happened upon this little gem after my penchant for action and comedy movies collided with my love for rom-coms. Mr. Right is fun throughout the entire film, and Sam Rockwell is an absolute treasure. The story follows a woman (Anna Kendrick) who is just coming out of a bad breakup. She meets a man who appears to be perfect for her in every way, but as it turns out, he’s a former hitman. This underrated movie is one of the best on Netflix if you don’t mind some ridiculousness.

Director: Paco Cabezas
Main cast: Sam Rockwell, Anna Kendrick, Tim Roth
Runtime: 95 minutes
IMDb Rating: 6.4

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The Hateful Eight (2015)

Major Warren with his guns out in The Hateful Eight.

Available in the original 168-minute slow burn, or the extended version cut into episodes, The Hateful Eight is definitely one of Quentin Tarantino’s best films. An unlikely group of Old West strangers ends up stranded in a cabin during a harsh snowstorm, but nothing is as it seems in this situation. Full of expected violence and witty banter, this film leans heavily toward the latter, leaving some audiences impatient with its suspense.

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Main Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Runtime: 168 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.8

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Comic Book

The Old Guard (2020)

The Old Guard in a cave with weapons drawn.

If you’re looking for something new on Netflix, The Old Guard is a sci-fi movie worth watching. The story follows a warrior named Andy (Charlize Theron) and her covert group of immortal mercenaries who have been protecting the mortal world for centuries.

Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Main Cast
: Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts
Runtime
: 125 minutes
IMDb Rating
: 6.7

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Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

Scott Pilgrim with a fiery sword in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

This comedy movie isn’t exactly your traditional action film, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for it in the genre. The story follows Scott Pilgrim, an aspiring bass guitarist, as he falls for a girl named Ramona Flowers. However, to be with her, he must first defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends in battles to the death.

Director: Edgar Wright
Main Cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin
Runtime: 112 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.5

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Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)

The Joker in Batman: The Killing Joke.

If you’re a fan of good animation and voice acting, then this is a solid choice any day of the week. While Batman is hunting for the escaped Joker, the Gordon family gets attacked to prove a terrible point.

Director: Sam Liu
Main Cast: Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Tara Strong
Runtime: 116 minutes
IMDb Rating: 6.4

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Martial Arts

Ip Man (2008)

Ip Man with a bamboo staff.

The Ip Man series is the story of the real-life Chinese martial artist, Ip Man (also known as Yip Man), who is credited with bringing the practice of Wing Chun to the global stage. The three movies highlight different parts of his life, from his education in Wing Chun to the legacy of his own teaching in Hong Kong (which included Bruce Lee as one of his pupils). The Grandmaster (2013) is another interesting take on the legend of Ip Man and Ip Man 4: The Finale hit theaters in December 2019. For more like this, check out the best fighting movies of all time.

Director: Wison Yip
Main Cast: Donnie Yen, Simon Yam
Runtime: 208 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.0

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Mortal Kombat (1995)

Sub-Zero (left) and Liu Kang (right) in Mortal Kombat.

“Get over here!” This hilariously campy movie adaptation of the classic video game fighting series is an awesomely fun movie to play a drinking game to, all while enjoying the 90’s nostalgia that this movie brings in so many ways. That being said, try not to attempt any of the moves you see on the screen at risk of hurting yourself.

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Main Cast: Christopher Lambert, Robin Shou, Linden Ashby
Runtime: 101 minutes
IMDb Rating: 5.8

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Kung Fu Panda (2008)

Po (left) trains with Shifu (right) in Kung Fu Panda.

Though it is an animated movie, it’s arguably one of the best to come out of this era of animation. Starring Jack Black as basically a cartoon panda version of himself, the voiceovers and animation are just two of the reasons why this movie rocks, with the sincerely kickass fighting scenes being an added bonus and a necessity for our list today.

Director(s): Mark Osborne, John Stevenson
Main Cast: Jack Black, Ian McShane, Angelina Jolie
Runtime: 92 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.6

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Charlie’s Angels (2000)

Alex (left), Natalie (center), and Dylan (right) posing in Charlie's Angels.

Like it or not, this movie is full of everything an action movie needs: explosions, car chases, fighting, and as an added bonus, some very charming and badass leading ladies. Besides being a bit corny and dated (though a great bit of music nostalgia for any millennial), this movie also features some surprisingly great appearances from Crispin Glover as Creepy Thin Man, Sam Rockwell maintaining his legendary status, and an awesome Bill Murray performance as Bosley, the liaison to Charlie.

Director: McG
Main Cast: Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu
Runtime: 98 minutes
IMDb Rating: 5.6

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