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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 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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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
Runtime
: 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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Mute (2018)

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

The Departed (2006)

An Irish gang in Boston led by notorious Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) is infiltrated by an undercover cop, William Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), while the very same police department has a mole of its own named Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon). The two infiltrators must do what they can to remain undiscovered, all the while looking to expose their counterparts. Based on the very real Boston Winter Hill Gang, this movie loosely re-tells the tales of Irish-American crime lord Whitey Bulger and his accomplice in the FBI, John Connolly, who was instrumental in the evasion of Bulger’s arrest for many years.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Main Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson
Runtime: 151 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.5

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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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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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War

Dances with Wolves (1990)

Dramatic, intense, and long-winded, Dances with Wolves is a western-style civil war epic that is definitely worth the watch. When a civil war lieutenant, John Dunbar (Kevin Costner) sees the tragedies of war and the destruction that his people cause, he chooses to live out his life with a tribe of Lakota Native Americans.

Director: Kevin Costner
Main Cast: Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene
Runtime: 181 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.0

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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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The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

In a late 70s western based on the book by Forrest Carter, The Outlaw Josey Wales takes a unique look at the post-civil war lifestyle. Jumping immediately into the action (spoiler alert), Josey Wales’s (Clint Eastwood) family is murdered and his house burned down by a rogue group of Union soldiers. Thirsty for revenge, Wales hunts them down after joining with some confederate soldiers who are essentially rebels considering the war is over. Being the only one to not surrender, Josey flees to Texas to start a new life but the price on his head is too big to just walk away from.

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)

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)

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 Marvel.

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

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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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The Hateful Eight (2015)

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

Planet Hulk (2010)

The Hulk is one of the most well-known Avengers, but we don’t see enough of his story outside of the Avengers movies. Planet Hulk follows the Hulk after he is ejected from the earth in a spaceship and crash-lands on an alien planet. Similar to the storyline in Thor Ragnarok, this planet is ruled by a tyrant who places the Hulk in a coliseum to battle other powerful creatures from around the universe.

Director: Sam Lieu
Main Cast: Rick D. Wasserman, Lisa Ann Beley, Mark Hildreth
Runtime: 81 minutes
IMDb Rating: 6.8

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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
Runtime
: 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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The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978)

When the Manchu government destroys his school, ravages his town, and kills his father, San Te (Chia-Hui Liu) travels to a Shaolin temple to learn the ways of Kung Fu and be at peace. As one of the best kung fu movies of all time, this one gets through all that information and on to the Kung Fu training in 30 minutes of runtime. After finally getting to the temple, he is–with resistance–admitted to the temple as a monk for training. The rest of the film is focused solely on Kung Fu and the 35 chambers one must pass to become a master, training the wrists, shoulders, legs, eyes, mind, and so forth all one chamber at a time.

Director: Chia-Liang Liu
Main Cast: Chia-Hui Liu, Lieh Lo, Yue Wong
Runtime: 116 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.7

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