ByRicky Derisz, writer at Creators.co
Staff Writer at MP. "Holy cow, Rick! I didn't know hanging out with you was making me smarter!"
Ricky Derisz

Note: This list will be updated monthly to reflect both the old and new action movies added to Netflix. Newest additions are at the top.

The action movie genre often evokes images of explosive gun battles, seemingly impossible car chases, bulging biceps and simple storylines. In reality the genre is much more nuanced, as the movies on the list illustrate; while pyrotechnics are plentiful, action films also pack an emotional punch.

Fortunately for those who enjoy the best of both worlds, offers a treasure trove of the adrenaline inducing features. From Hollywood blockbusters to Japanese indie films, those who like their action in all shapes and sizes won't be left disappointed.

So, here we go — check out our list of the 24 must see action movies currently streaming in July 2017:

24. Proof Of Life

'Proof of Life' [Warner Bros.]
'Proof of Life' [Warner Bros.]
  • Release Date: 2000
  • Director: Taylor Hackford
  • Who's in it: Meg Ryan, Russell Crowe, David Morse
  • IMDB score: 6.2/10

When it was released at the turn of the millennium, more attention was paid to the two affair between leading stars, Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe, than the quality of the movie. But that's a shame; while Proof of Life isn't a standout hit, it contains enough thrills for an enjoyable Friday evening.

The film focuses on Alice (Ryan), who hires Terry (Crowe), a professional negotiator, to help with the release of her husband who has been kidnapped by guerrillas in South America — a story inspired by an article publish in Vanity Fair.

Funnily enough, while the action itself is praised, one of the biggest criticisms was the lack of chemistry between the leading stars.

23. Three

'Three' [Credit: Media Asia Films]
'Three' [Credit: Media Asia Films]
  • Release Date: 2016
  • Director: Johnnie To
  • Who's in it: Louis Koo, Wei Zhao, Wallace Chung
  • IMDB score: 6/10

You're a criminal, in the middle of a tense shootout with the police. You realise you'll more than likely be defeated. What do you do? Shoot yourself! At least, that's what protagonist Shun does in Three (originally titled San ren xing), leaving himself with a bullet lodged in his brain.

Hong Kong film director Johnnie To deftly handles an interesting concept — most of the sequences take place with the hospital itself — with his trademark aesthetically pleasing cinematography and explosive action sequences.

22. Headshot

'Headshot' [Credit: Vertical Entertainment]
'Headshot' [Credit: Vertical Entertainment]
  • Release Date: 2017
  • Director: Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto
  • Who's in it: Iko Uwais, Chelsea Islan, Sunny Pang
  • IMDB score: 6.5/10

The screenplay for the Indonesian martial arts film was written in just two weeks by co-director Timo Tjahjanto, but that doesn't detract for the understated quality of the production. Headshot tells the story of Ishmael (Uwais), a man who washes ashore with a serious head injury and a serious case of amnesia.

As a nurse helps him return to his former self and Ishmael's memories return, the violence escalates, channelled by some seriously stylish fight sequences. Although not quite as brutal as some of Uwas's previous films, Headshot is a nice addition to Netflix's action movie catalogue.

21. Cold War 2

Aaron Kwok stars in 'Cold War 2' [Credit: Edko Films]
Aaron Kwok stars in 'Cold War 2' [Credit: Edko Films]
  • Release Date: 2016
  • Director: Longman Leung & Sunny Luk
  • Who's in it: Aaron Kwok, Tony Leung, Chow Yun-fat
  • IMDB score: 6.7/10

Cold War 2 follows on from the huge action hit named — you guessed it — Cold War, a movie which became the most lucrative Hong Kong film of 2012 after making $115 million at the box office.

Like its predecessor, the tense fractions within The Hong Kong Police Force motivates the plot, but this time, two former enemies — Sean Lau (Aaron Kwok) and M.B. Lee (Tony Leung Ka Fai) — are forced to work together.

As well as the extravagant gun battles and car chases, Cold War 2 manages to deliver a subtle, chess-like portrayal of politics within the police force, as well as a clever depiction of the balance of power.

20. Tropic Thunder

'Tropic Thunder' [Credit: Paramount Pictures]
'Tropic Thunder' [Credit: Paramount Pictures]
  • Release Date: 2008
  • Director: Ben Stiller
  • Who's in it: Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr.
  • IMDB score: 7/10

Comedy and action collide with explosive consequences in Tropic Thunder, a film within a film based on fictional events during the Vietnam War. As much as director Stiller and the A-list cast playfully toy with perception of over-bloated Hollywood egos — including Downey Jr. playing a white method actor portraying a black man and Tom Cruise in an iconic, hip-grooving cameo — Tropic Thunder also includes admirable action sequences. One of the new action movies recently added to Netflix is a classic.

19. Déjà Vu

  • Release Date: 2006
  • Director: Tony Scott
  • Who's in it: Denzel Washington, Paula Patton, Jim Caviezel, Val Kilmer
  • IMDB score: 7/10
  • Also available on: Netflix Canada

Tony Scott directs a clever tale of time-travel and terrorism, fronted by one of action's most illustrious performers, Denzel Washington, who oozes charisma as ATF agent Douglas Carlin. After dealing with a terrorist attack, Carlin is invited to join a mysterious detective unit that can bend time to look into the past.

Carlin is tasked with not only uncovering the cause of the explosion, but also protecting a woman he has fallen in love with, Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton), from being caught up in the attack in this engrossing mix of romance, sci-fi and action.

18. Kill Ratio

'Kill Ratio' [Credit: XLrator Media]
'Kill Ratio' [Credit: XLrator Media]
  • Release Date: 2016
  • Director: Paul Tanter
  • Who's in it: Tom Hopper, Amy Huberman, Nick Dunning
  • IMDB score: 3.9/10

While Kill Ratio is more of a guilty pleasure than an all-out classic, this is an action film genre enthusiasts will enjoy. This is 86 minutes of B-movie indulgence in its purest form, telling the story of covert American operative James Henderson (Tom Hopper) who is trying to defend the president of a European country.

The dialogue is questionable, but there is enough to offer from Kill Ratio to keep viewers entertained with remnants of '80s action cheese.

17. Saving Mr. Wu

'Saving Mr. Wu' [Credit: Golden Network Asia]
'Saving Mr. Wu' [Credit: Golden Network Asia]
  • Release Date: 2015
  • Director: Sheng Ding
  • Who's in it: Andy Lau, Liu Ye, Wu Ruofu and Wang Qianyuan
  • IMDB score: 6.7/10
  • Also available on: Netflix Canada

The Chinese thriller is unique in the sense that, not only does it depict a real life tale of a famous celebrity kidnapping, but that said celebrity, Wu Ruofu, actually stars in the film, in what assumedly must've been a cathartic reimagining of traumatic events.

Although the outcome is known (perhaps less for Western audiences) the pace and tenacity of the film make it a thrilling watch, rich in action and taut with tension.

16. Babel

'Babel' [Credit: Paramount Vantage]
'Babel' [Credit: Paramount Vantage]
  • Release Date: 2006
  • Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
  • Who's in it: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael García Bernal, Kōji Yakusho
  • IMDB score: 7.5/10
  • Also available on: Netflix UK

Iñárritu is undeniably one of the greatest directors of a generation, and only the third person to win back-to-back Oscars for Birdman (2014) and The Revenant (2015). The 53-year-old's "Death Trilogy" — consisting of Amores Perros (2000), 21 Grams (2003) and finally Babel — put the director on the map.

Nominated for seven Oscars, Babel tells the story of four interconnected and ultimately tragic stories, ranging from Mexico to Japan. It's powerful and elegantly constructed by Iñárritu, illustrating how seemingly innocuous events can intertwine.

15. Inside Man

Clive Owen in 'Inside Man' [Credit: Universal]
Clive Owen in 'Inside Man' [Credit: Universal]
  • Release Date: 2006
  • Director: Spike Lee
  • Who's in it: Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Christopher Plummer, Willem Dafoe, Chiwetel Ejiofor
  • IMDB score: 7.6/10
  • Also available on: Netflix Canada

Spike Lee's thriller unpicks the mystery of a "perfect" bank robbery, starting with a basic premise and expanding on it with unexpected twists and powerful chemistry between the leading cast.

Dalton Russell (Owen) is the Machiavellian mastermind responsible for the plan, while police detective Keith Frazier (Washington) attempts to negotiate the rescue of the hostages who are trapped inside the establishment.

Without giving much away, Inside Man is a high stakes masterpiece which is guaranteed to keep you guessing for the film's entire duration.

14. Mission: Impossible III

Tom Cruise in 'Mission: Impossible III' [Credit Paramount]
Tom Cruise in 'Mission: Impossible III' [Credit Paramount]
  • Release Date: 2006
  • Director: J.J. Abrams
  • Who's in it: Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman
  • IMDB score: 6.9/10
  • Also available on: Netflix Canada

The Mission Impossible series is a reliable action franchise, fronted by Hollywood A-lister Tom Cruise, who relentlessly tackles the improbable as IMF agent Ethan Hunt. J.J. Abrams took a break from sci-fi to co-write and direct the 2006 movie, after Cruise himself asked him to take on the project. The addition of the esteemed director plus the highly talented Philip Seymour Hoffman as the main villain made this a highly energetic addition to the series.

Enjoyable, explosive and easy-to-watch, the third instalment of the franchise follows Hunt after he retires from the service. But come on, he was never going to stay out of action that long, was he?

See Also:

13. Gladiator

  • Release Date: 2000
  • Director: Ridley Scott
  • Who's in it: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed
  • IMDB score: 8.5/10

Are you not entertained?! ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?! Well, if not, then what better action adventure movies on Netflix to entertain than the colossal epic, Gladiator.

Scott's movie won numerous awards, including five Oscars, and it's easy to see why. It's an emotionally draining and visually stunning depiction of Maximus Decimus Meridius and his quest to avenge his father's death, through the realm of gory gladiatorial conflict.

Never seen it? Seen it numerous times? Either way, there aren't many tales of vengeance that strike the same chord.

12. The Hunter

Willem Dafoe in 'The Hunter' [Credit: Magnolia Pictures]
Willem Dafoe in 'The Hunter' [Credit: Magnolia Pictures]
  • Release Date: 2011
  • Director: Daniel Nettheim
  • Who's in it: Willem Dafoe, Frances O'Connor, Sam Neill
  • IMDB score: 6.8/10
  • Also available on: Netflix UK

We've had a few blockbusters, so let's turn our attention to some good action movies on Netflix you may not have heard of. First up is this Australian thriller, The Hunter, starring Willem Dafoe.

It's essentially a hitman action flick with a twist; instead of hunting down a fellow human, Martin David (Dafoe) is tasked with hunting down the last remaining Tasmanian tiger, on behalf of a biotech company. Quirky in concept, aesthetically stimulating and ruthless in delivery, this is a worthy addition to any list, and one of the most underrated in the genre.

11. A Hijacking

Pilou Asbæk in 'A Hijacking' [Credit: Magnolia Pictures]
Pilou Asbæk in 'A Hijacking' [Credit: Magnolia Pictures]
  • Release Date: 2012
  • Director: Tobias Lindholm
  • Who's in it: Pilou Asbæk, Søren Malling, Dar Salim
  • IMDB score: 7.2/10

The beauty of Netflix is that it caters for anyone, and hidden gems are plentiful. A Hijacking is the perfect example; the low budget Danish thriller had a fairly low profile release, but it's one of the most original and exciting action movies in recent years.

Set around, well, a hijacking of a ship, Lindholm's thriller feels authentic and genuinely disturbing. Although the cast was made from a mix of professional and untrained actors, Game of Thrones fans will recognise Asbæk; he plays Euron Greyjoy in the hit TV series.

10. Drug War

'Drug War' [Credit: Variance Films]
'Drug War' [Credit: Variance Films]
  • Release Date: 2012
  • Director: Johnnie To
  • Who's in it: Louis Koo, Sun Honglei, Huang Yi, Wallace Chung
  • IMDB score: 7/10

From Australia, to Denmark, to a joint Chinese/Hong Kong effort. Action truly knows no borders. Drug War tells the story of the fraught relationship between Police Captain Zhang (Honglei) and drug lord Timmy Choi (Koo). Think The Departed and Usual Suspects rolled into one.

While To's flick isn't the most energetic in terms of pure action, a compelling plot and interesting dynamic between the leads is enough to make it a film to remember. This is definitely a film to check out if you want a switch up from Hollywood.

9. V For Vendetta

'V for Vendetta' [Credit: Warner Bros.]
'V for Vendetta' [Credit: Warner Bros.]
  • Release Date: 2016
  • Director: James McTeigue
  • Who's in it: Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman, Stephen Rea, John Hurt
  • IMDB score: 8.2/10
  • Also available on: Netflix Canada

Like fine wine, McTeigue's anarchistic comic book adaptation has improved with age. It's hard to believe the film is now a decade old; the themes are arguably more relevant now than back in 2006.

The dark vision of a future run by neo-fascists is adapted from a series by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. The masked protagonist, V, attempts to instigate a revolution through the use of terrorist acts. Such is the impact of the film, V's "Guy Fawkes" mask has since become part of popular culture, adopted by real-life revolutionary group, anonymous.

V for Vendetta? More like V for very good Netflix action movie. See what I did there?

8. Beasts Of No Nation

Attah and Elba in 'Beasts of No Nation' [Credit: Netflix]
Attah and Elba in 'Beasts of No Nation' [Credit: Netflix]
  • Release Date: 2015
  • Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
  • Who's in it: Idris Elba, Abraham Attah, Ama K. Abebrese, Kobina Amissa-Sam
  • Also available on: Netflix Canada, Netflix UK

Netflix has become a global powerhouse in the entertainment industry, but rather than rest on its laurels, the streaming service knows what encourages subscribers to login; quality content. For that reason alone, it's produced some incredible original content, and Beasts of No Nation is up there with the best.

Written and directed by Fukunaga, and based on a novel of the same name from Uzodinma Iweala, the dogged depiction of child soldier Agu is both harrowing and mezmerizing. Driven forward by powerful performances, especially from Elba and teenager Attah, Beasts of No Nation is a film that Netflix subscribers cannot miss.

7. 13 Assassins

'13 Assassins' [Credit: Artificial Eye]
'13 Assassins' [Credit: Artificial Eye]
  • Release Date: 2011
  • Director: Takashi Miike
  • Who's in it: Kōji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada, Yūsuke Iseya, Ikki Sawamura
  • IMDB score: 7.6/10

We often think of action movies are full of guns and explosions, but replace AK47's with samurai swords and you get an altogether different, yet equally enthralling result. Miike's flick — set in Japan in 1844 — is one of the finest samurai epics made.

In the film, a group of assassins (implied in the name) join forces to take on a suicide mission in the attempt to kill an evil lord. Visually stunning and as sharp as a samurai swords itself, 13 Assassins is a joy to watch.

6. Lethal Weapon

  • Release Date: 1987
  • Director: Richard Donner
  • Who's in it: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Gary Busey
  • IMDB score: 7.6/10

It'd be criminal to omit the film that revolutionized not only the buddy cop genre but action movies as a whole. Gibson and Glover have a phenomenal amount of chemistry as two mismatched L.A.P.D detectives (Sergeants Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh) who uncover a drug-smuggling operation.

As well as witty interactions between the unpredictable Riggs and veteran Murtaugh, part of Lethal Weapon's appeal lies in its breathtaking action sequences. Such was the success of the original, it spawned three sequels. The good news? The entire four film collection is available on Netflix, ready-to-view for a buddy cop binge.

5. Battle Royale

'Battle Royale' [Credit: Toei Company]
'Battle Royale' [Credit: Toei Company]
  • Release Date: 2000
  • Director: Kinji Fukasaku
  • Who's in it: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Taro Yamamoto, Masanobu Ando
  • IMDB score: 7.7/10
  • Also available on: Netflix UK

The action-horror hybrid is breathtakingly brutal and uncompromising, and makes the Hunger Games look like a stroll in the park on a warm summer's day. Often thought of as one of Japan's best movies, Fukasaku pulls of an unforgettable masterpiece.

The premise is horrifyingly simple; a group of teenagers are trapped on a remote island and given instructions that they must fight to the death across a three-day period, with only one survivor. Armed with anything from crossbows to coat-hangers, the fight for survival results in a collection of grizzy and creative deaths.

4. Reservoir Dogs

'Reservoir Dogs' [Credit: Miramax Films]
'Reservoir Dogs' [Credit: Miramax Films]
  • Release Date: 1992
  • Director: Quentin Tarantino
  • Who's in it: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Steve Buscemi, Chris Penn
  • IMDB score: 8.3/10

Tarantino's live-action debut is a cinematic masterpiece, and arguably the most successful independent film ever produced. As well as putting the often lauded and frequently controversial director on the map, it introduced the world to Tarantino's hallmark violent storytelling.

It's a compact story of six criminals who are recruited to carry out a diamond robbery, and the rising mix of panic and paranoia that escalates as things don't go to plan. Running at 100 minutes and crammed with capricious dialogue and pop-culture references, it's a film that is infinitely rewatchable.

3. Scarface

  • Release Date: 1983
  • Director: Brian De Palma
  • Who's in it: Al Pacino, Steven Bauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
  • IMDB score: 8.3/10
  • Also available on: Netflix Canada

Say hello to a film which has become ingrained in popular culture. A film with more fucks (226) than a drunken Donald Trump rally. A film with one of the most quotable mobsters in cinema: Tony Montana.

The story of Montana's rise from Cuban immigrant to millionaire drug lord is filled with profanity, copious amounts of cocaine and perpetual violence — for those reasons, it was initially received negative critical reviews. Since then, it has gained a reputation as one of the most highly regarded crime films of all time.

2. Full Metal Jacket

'Full Metal Jacket' [Credit: Warner Bros.]
'Full Metal Jacket' [Credit: Warner Bros.]
  • Release Date: 1987
  • Director: Stanley Kubrick
  • Who's in it: Matthew Modine, Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey, Arliss Howard
  • IMDB score: 8.3/10

Kubrick applied his creative genius to almost every genre. From captive horror with The Shining (1980), to the sci-fi exploration of existence itself in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) or erotic drama with Eyes Wide Shut (1999), the director always delved into the darkest recesses of the human psyche.

Full Metal Jacket is much the same, exploring the psychological complexities of war. Split essentially into two parts, the first focusing on the boot camp build up (complete with Ermey's potty-mouthed drill Sergeant Hartman) and the second the Vietnam War, the brilliance is subtle and significant.

1. Gomorrah

'Gomorrah'
'Gomorrah'
  • Release Date: 2008
  • Director: Matteo Garrone
  • Who's in it: Gianfelice Imparato, Salvatore Abbruzzese, Toni Servillo
  • IMDB score: 7/10

Choosing the top spot for action flicks to watch online right now isn't easy. But to help them along the way, some of the films of this list have had years to earn critical acclaim, or the might of Hollywood behind them. Gomorrah is a different beast entirely, made in Italy on a modest budget, but Garrone's film holds its own amongst the best.

Five separate stories delicately weave together to form the brutal story of those affected by organized crime in Naples. The gritty depiction of the Mafia feels authentic and not polished or repackaged — so much so, Roberto Saviano, the author of the novel the film is based on, received death threats after the film's release, and is still under protection.

For those who like their action restrained, realistic and devoid of hyperbole, Gomorrah could be just the film for you. Oh, and if you enjoy it, there's even a spin-off TV series of the same name.

Are there any good action movies on Netflix that you would add to the list?


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