The 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 included a few standout thrillers and suspense movies and rounded up some of the best 80’s action movies 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.

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Hardcore Henry (2015)

Hardcore Henry is one of the most intense and unique action movies you’ll ever experience. The plot is fairly straightforward, Henry is resurrected with no memory and he must save his wife from a telekinetic warlord. The movie is shot entirely in the first person, however. Meaning you get to see from the viewpoint of Henry throughout the film.

Director: Ilya Naishuller
Main Cast: Sharlto Copley, Tim Roth, Haley Bennett
Runtime: 96 minutes
IMDb Rating: 6.7

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Snowpiercer (2013)

Oscar-winning director Bong Joon Ho is well-known for his most recent film, Parasite, but his body of work expands much further. Snowpiercer boasts one of the most unique premises: the entire film taking place on a train that holds the last of the world’s survivors after a failed climate-change experiment. If you’re thinking it looks like Captain America on a snow train, you aren’t terribly far off.

Director: Bong Joon Ho
Main cast: Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton
Runtime: 126 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.1

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I Am Legend (2007)

If any of the films on this list today will make you jump out of your seat, it’s this Sci-Fi thriller. Scientist Robert Neville (Will Smith), the lonely survivor of a viral outbreak caused by humans, wanders the deserted streets of NYC alone day after day trying to survive the creatures that humans have become. Since the predators are sensitive to sunlight, he must forage during the day and work on a cure during the night.

Director: Francis Lawrence
Main Cast: Will Smith, Alice Braga, Charlie Tahan
Runtime: 101 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.2

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Total Recall (1990)

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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Mad Max (1979)

In a dismal near-future, a small and broken police force in muscle cars is the only establishment of law, but they are challenged by a wandering biker gang of maniacs who think they own the world. With little semblance of society left at all, it’s up to these leather-clad stunt drivers to keep people in line, but evil runs amuck in a future with no system. This sci-fi film is definitely one to catch if you like the apocalypse genre, beautifully encapsulating the battle between a desire for peace and the harsh reality of their world.

Director: George Miller
Main Cast: Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel, Hugh Keays-Byrne
Runtime: 88 minutes
IMDb Rating: 6.9

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Stardust (2007)

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
: 132 minutes
IMDb Rating
: 8.2

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Real Steel (2011)

With great visual effects and a fun sort of video game theme, Real Steel is no ordinary boxing movie but is sure to entertain. In the future, boxing has become a needless career, at least for humans. When Charlie Kenton’s (Hugh Jackman) life as a boxer is cut short by a change in the biz, 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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Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Played by the charming, previous bad boy of Hollywood, Robert Downey Jr., we witness a re-imagining of the age-old character, Sherlock Holmes. In a much more modern entertainment fashion, Holmes and Watson are not the mild-mannered detectives we know them to be, instead, this Holmes predicts the events of fistfights by searching for open pressure points, blocking, jabbing, and defeating enemies using his superior and quick intellect. 

Director: Guy Ritchie
Main Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams
Runtime: 128 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.6

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The Irishman (2019)

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 worth a watch.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Main Cast: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci
Runtime: 210 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.9

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Training Day (2001)

A film that questions ethics from every angle, Training Day is a harrowing tale of the struggle to fight crime in the inner city where desperation runs amuck. A rookie cop (Ethan Hawke) is assigned to tag along with a long-time Los Angeles narcotics officer (Denzel Washington) for his first day of training. As the day goes along, he is faced with the shocking reality of the blurred lines that these officers must confront on a daily basis to survive.

Director: Antoine Fuqua
Main Cast: Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn
Runtime: 122 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.7

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The Night Comes for Us (2018)

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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Platoon (1986)

Considered to be one of the best war movies of all time, Platoon is a proper adaptation of the many things that can go wrong in the human mind when pushed to its limit. A young man (Charlie Sheen) with a longing for glory enlists in the Vietnam war but quickly realizes the many costs, as his cohort begins to turn on each other over how they respectively treat the locals. As this film progresses, it reveals itself as more of a psychological thriller than a war movie, blurring the lines between good and bad in a scarring way.

Director: Oliver Stone
Main Cast: Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe
Runtime: 120 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.1

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Da 5 Bloods (2020)

Spike Lee’s latest film is the story of four African American Vets 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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No Game No Life: Zero (2017)

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

Casino Royale (2006)

The first of the Daniel Craig Bond films, Casino Royale threw him into the spotlight and redefined the epic movie series forever. Full of incredible action scenes (including an amazingly filmed on-foot chase scene through a construction site), classic Bond charm, and finally, a Bond girl (Eva Green) that is actually integral to the storyline, this film is a pleasant and thrilling addition to the universe. 

Director: Martin Campbell
Main Cast
: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Judi Dench
: 142 minutes
IMDb Rating
: 8.0

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Django Unchained (2012)

A German bounty hunter seeks and purchases a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) to help him track down some men he is after. But after taking them down, Django wishes to seek out his wife and give her the freedom he has found. The bounty hunter offers to help him, and they manage to pinpoint and infiltrate a corrupt plantation owner’s estate where she is currently enslaved. We’ve found even more Quentin Tarantino movies if you’re interested.

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Main Cast: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio
Runtime: 165 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.4

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Triple Frontier (2019)

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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6 Underground (2019)

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)

I happened upon this little gem after my pension 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 break-up. 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: 6.3

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Comic Book

Batman Begins (2005)

In the first of his Batman trilogy and one of the best Christopher Nolan movies, Batman Begins is undoubtedly original and arguably the best hero origin story for the dark vigilante of comics. When a young Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) loses his parents and ultimately blames himself, his revenge attempt is thwarted by another interested party. Shamed by his closest friend Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes) for choosing violence, he banishes himself to the far east where he learns how to fight and protect himself, attracting the attention of the mysterious Ducard (Liam Neeson) who hones his fighting and stealth skills to become the Batman.

Director: Christopher Nolan
Main Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Cane, Ken Watanabe
Runtime: 140 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.2

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The Old Guard (2020)

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
: 125 minutes
IMDb Rating
: 6.7

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Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

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 exes in a battle 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)

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)

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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Enter the Dragon (1973)

Bruce Lee Enter the Dragon 1973
Warner Brothers/Getty Images

Widely considered one of the best movies of 1973 and one of the best martial arts movies of all time, Enter The Dragon is probably the best Bruce Lee movie of all time. It’s also the last complete film he appeared in before his death that same year. Academics have since interpreted the film to be an allegory of post-colonial Asia, but if that’s above your head just sit back and enjoy the gorgeously choreographed fight scenes and sleazy 70’s charm.

Director: Robert Clouse
Main Cast: Bruce Lee, John Saxon, Jim Kelly
Runtime: 102 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.7

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