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The best action movies on Netflix (May 2021)

Under Siege and Stargate
Under Siege and Stargate. Pic credit: Warner Bros/MGM

When looking for an exciting action movie, Netflix has most fans covered.

The streaming giant has licensed many of the best action movies of the last 40 years, and that includes award winners, genre favorites, cult classics, and crowd-pleasers.

Sadly, many top action movies have left Netflix and will never return thanks to new streaming services like Disney+ bringing Star Wars and Marvel home and the new HBO Max doing the same for DC movies and Warner Bros entertainment.

With that said, Netflix has also been working hard over the last few years to bring its own action movies to the service – films that will never leave because they belong to Netflix and Netflix alone.

Here is a look at 15 great action movies to watch on Netflix as of May 2021.

Updated on May 1: Every month, Netflix drops several movies from its service and replaces these movies with other films that are possibly even better than what came before. This month is no different, as some of our top choices are now gone from the streaming service.

The good news is that replacements have arrived, and we have replaced them with some new films that just hit the streaming service.

Stargate (1994) 

James Spader (left) and Kurt Russell in the film Stargate. Pic credit: MGM

The science fiction action movie Stargate hit in 1994 and was so successful that it spawned a long-running TV series.

The movie starred James Spader as Dr. Jackson, an archeologist who found a possibility to travel through a “Stargate” to another distant planet.

Kurt Russell stars as O’Neill, a special ops officer who agrees to the mission as he has no reason left to live after his son accidentally dies by shooting himself with O’Neill’s own gun.

Once there, they meet a group of humans who worship the god Ra, and then realize there might not be a chance to return to Earth.

Under Siege (1992)

Under Siege (1992)
Steven Seagal in Under Siege (1992). Pic credit: Warner Bros.

Before he ended up as a straight-to-video action star, Steven Seagal starred in a series of big screen action movies and the best-of-the-best has hit Netflix with Under Siege.

Seagal is a former Navy SEAL, now working as a cook aboard a battleship. Soon, he encounters a group of terrorist mercenaries who land on the ship via a food service helicopter, and has to fight them to save the ship.

While this is a Steven Seagal movie, the true star here is Tommy Lee Jones as the villain, an ex-CIA operative leading the terrorist group. He is completely over-the-top and it might be Jones most entertaining role.

Ip Man (2008)

IP Man (2008)
The Hong Kong film IP Man. Pic credit: Mandarin Films

IP Man is an autobiographical action film from Hong Kong that tells the life of Ip Man, a grandmaster who was the teacher of none other than Bruce Lee.

Donnie Yen stars as Ip Man and this first movie in the series focuses on the events that took place in his life in Foshan during the Sino-Japanese War.

The movie was a massive hit, although it was never released theatrically in the United States, and was nominated for 12 Hong Kong Film Awards.

2012 (2009)

2012 (2009)
John Cusack in 2012, Pic credit: Columbia Pictures

Roland Emmerich returned for another disaster film in 2009, titled 2012.

In the movie, Emmerich has natural disasters start to destroy the planet, with major set pieces including volcanos, earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, and floods, wiping out most of the world.

John Cusack is the main star, trying to save his family as the world falls apart around him.

When he learns that the rich and powerful have been planning for this, and have built arcs to survive the disasters, he sets out to make sure he can get his family aboard one to save their lives.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series coming to Amazon
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is coming to Amazon. Pic credit: Sony

In 2011, David Fincher remade the Swedish movie The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, itself based on the novel by Steig Larsson.

The movie is about a hacker who teams with a disgraced news journalist to find the secret behind a girl who went missing 40 years ago.

However, when the two start to get close to the mystery, they find their lives in danger as the people responsible want the secrets to remain hidden and will kill anyone to make sure they do.

Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

Olympus Has Fallen
Olympus Has Fallen. Pic credit: Millennium Films

Olympus Has Fallen is the first movie in a film trilogy, followed by London Has Fallen and Angel Has Fallen.

In this first movie, Gerard Butler is a former secret service agent named Mike Banning who left the job after saving the President from an auto accident but failed to save the First Lady.

However, when North Korean terrorists launch an attack on the White House, and everything seems lost, Mike returns with his knowledge of the White House to save the President again and uncover a wide-ranging conspiracy.

The Da Vinci Code (2006)

The Da Vinci Code
Tom Hank’s and Audrey Tautou in The Da Vinci Code. Pic credit: Sony

The Da Vinci Code is a 2006 Ron Howard movie based on the best-selling novel by Dan Brown.

Tom Hanks stars as Robert Langdon, a religious symbology professor, who becomes the top suspect when a Louvre curator is murdered. When he escapes, he teams with a cryptologist (Audrey Tautou) to solve the mystery of who killed the man and why.

This ends up leading to a quest for the Holy Grail and a long-lasting secret that the Catholic Church has been hiding for years.

Casino Royale (2006)

Netflix: Casino Royale
Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. Pic credit: Sony

Daniel Craig came into the James Bond franchise and revitalized the entire property.

Casino Royale was his first movie in the series, and it took the character back to his origins. It also led Craig into turning in the biggest box office successes in the franchise.

In Casino Royale, Bond is a brand-new 007 and is sent to take down an international financer of terrorism. However, he is sent to battle him at a poker table.

This movie led to two sequels, with a third coming later in 2020.

Mad Max (1979)

Mad Max
Mel Gibson in Mad Max. Pic credit: Warner Bros.

Mad Max is the movie that introduced Mel Gibson to the world.

For Mad Max: Fury Road fans, one of the best movies of the last decade, here is where it all began.

In the movie, Gibson is Max Rockatansky, one of the Australian highway patrol’s best trackers in a dystopian future where biker gangs rule the streets.

When Max loses his family to a murderer from one of the gangs, he loses his sense of morality, steals the tracker car, and heads out to kill everyone involved.

The Old Guard (2020)

The Old Guard on Netflix
Matthias Schoenaerts and Charlize Theron in The Old Guard. Pic credit: Aimee Spinks/Netflix

In 2020, Netflix released a new action movie called The Old Guard, which was a fantastic new film for the streaming service.

Charlize Theron is Andy, the oldest immortal in a unit known as The Old Guard. These are all immortals who head out on missions to save people or stop the evil, with just the belief that what they are doing is right.

However, after years of fighting the good fight and beating evil people, they face their greatest threat — a pharmaceutical businessman who wants to capture them and extract their powers for his purposes.

Extraction (2020)

The best action movies on Netflix (July 2020)
Chris Hemsworth in Extraction. Pic credit: Netflix

Extraction is one of the most violent Netflix original action movies on the service today.

Chris Hemsworth (Thor) stars as a black ops mercenary who is hired to go to Bangladesh and rescue an Indian drug lord’s kidnapped son. The film, from that point on, is a non-stop action chase flick.

Netflix even joked about the death count in the movie, tweeting that Chris Hemsworth’s mercenary killed 183 people in the film, which is even more than someone like Rambo or an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie like Commando (81 people).

6 Underground (2019)

The best action movies on Netflix (July 2020)
The cast of 6 Underground. Pic credit: Netflix

Michael Bay created some of the most over-the-top action movies in the history of cinema, from Bad Boys and Armageddon to Transformers.

In 2019, Bay signed a deal to make a Netflix exclusive action movie, and that film arrived as 6 Underground, starring Ryan Reynolds.

Reynolds is a “ghost,” an anonymous vigilante who recruits five other people to give up their lives and disappear from the real world to bring down criminals and terrorists that seem to get away with their crimes.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)

The best action movies on Netflix (July 2020)
The cast of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Pic credit: Universal

Edgar Wright has a spotless track record with his movies. After making the brilliant horror satire Shaun of the Dead and the pitch-perfect action cop movie Hot Fuzz, he turned his attention to an adaptation.

That movie was the comic book adaptation Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, based on Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comics.

Michael Cera was perfect in his role as Scott Pilgrim, an awkward teen who wanted to date Ramond Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).

However, he learns he has to fight and beat her exes before she can date him, and they include fantastic performances from names like Brandon Routh, Chris Evans, and Jason Schwartzman.

Shawn S. Lealos

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