The best action movies on Netflix (January 2022)

Terminator 2 and Leon the Professional on Netflix
Terminator 2 and Leon the Professional on Netflix. Pic credit: Tri-Star Pictures/Gaumont Buena Vista International

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 this month.

Updated in December 2022: 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.

Braveheart (1995)

Mel Gibson in Braveheart
Mel Gibson in Braveheart. Pic credit: Paramount

Mel Gibson directed and starred in the historical epic Braveheart in 1995.

The movie told the story of William Wallace, the Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I of England.

The movie was a massive success, picking up 10 Oscar nominations and winning for Best Picture and Best Director, while Gibson also won Best Director at the Golden Globes.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Edward Furlong in Terminator 2
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Edward Furlong in Terminator 2. Pic credit: Tri-Star Pictures

After finding success with the sci-fi horror movie Terminator, James Cameron returned to the franchise and directed the sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

While the first movie was a survival horror movie with an unstoppable robot killer trying to murder a young woman to prevent her from having a baby. However, T2 arrived and showed a glimpse of the apocalypse that was coming.

It also moved the focus to more of a sci-fi setting, with the original killer robot now returning to protect the woman’s son and a new robot killer showing up to finish the job the first one couldn’t.

He movie remains one of the best action movies of the 1990s and holds up as the best in the franchise.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

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

In 2011, David Fincher remade the Norwegian action-thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

The movie was very similar to the original, based on the Steig Larsson novel. Rooney Mara stars as Lisbeth Salander, a hacker who helps a disgraced journalist, played by Daniel Craig, investigate a disappearance from 40 years ago.

While looking into the disappearance, it opens up old secrets and puts both of their lives in danger.

The movie won an Oscar for Best Film editing, and Trent Reznor picked up a lot of acclaim for his score.

Body of Lies (2008)

Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe in Body of Lies
Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe in Body of Lies. Pic credit: Warner Bros

Body of Lies came out in the 2000s, a decade full of action thrillers about terrorism.

With Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe as the leads, this movie stands out. Directed by Ridley Scott, this movie looks at the relationship between the United States and the Middle East.

The movie takes a different direction than something like the Bourne Identity, as the protagonist is a conventional agent, and not a rogue agent, but Scott makes the operations feel gritty and grounded.

The acting is all mostly top-notch, from DiCaprio and Crowe to Mark Strong.

Last Action Hero (1993)

The Last Action Hero with Arnold Schwarzenegger
The Last Action Hero with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Pic credit: Columbia

The Last Action Hero was panned when it came out, but the movie was possibly ahead of its time.

In the movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Jack Slater, a movie action hero in a successful franchise. A young boy from the real world is magically transported into the world of Jack Slater while a villain from the movie world comes into the real world.

The movie is an action movie in Schwarznegger’s heyday, but it is a satire that works on many levels and is more fun than its reputation might suggest.

Total Recall (2012)

Colin Farrell in the Total Recall remake
Colin Farrell in the Total Recall remake. Pic credit: Sony

In 2012, Len Wiseman remade the sci-fi thriller classic Total Recall.

Colin Farrell took on the role that Arnold Schwarzenegger played in the original, as a man who goes through a fantasy experience where he was a spy, only for it to turn out he really was a spy in the past.

The big change here is that the action no longer takes place on Mars and is instead of an Earth devastated by chemical warfare. There was a great sci-fi device as an elevator went through the center of the Earth to make cross-planet travel quick.

21 Jump Street (2012)

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in 21 Jump Street
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in 21 Jump Street. Pic credit: Columbia

In 2012, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller brought the classic TV show 21 Jump Street to the big screen.

The movie is an action-comedy about a pair of cops who go undercover as high school students to stop a drug ring. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill star as the cops.

The movie also had a fun cameo by Johnny Depp, who was the star from the TV show. The movie also had a sequel in 2014 with 22 Jump Street.

Desperado (1995)

Antonio Banderas in Desperado
Antonio Banderas in Desperado. Pic credit: Columbia Pictures

Robert Rodriguez made his first movie, El Mariachi, for a few thousand dollars he earned by offering to be a medical test subject. The movie was a small hit on the indie scene and earned him entry into Hollywood.

In 1995, Rodriguez got a chance to bring his mariachi into a bigger budget story and brought in a great cast in Antonio Banderas, Steve Buscemi, Cheech Marin, and Salma Hayek to prove he was a star director in the making.

The movie continued the story and was a massive hit, with a third movie coming in 2003 with Once Upon a Time in Mexico.

Leon: The Professional (1994)

Natalie Portman in Leon the Professional
Natalie Portman in Leon the Professional. Pic credit: Buena Vista

Natalie Portman started as a child actress and her breakout role came in the 1994 Luc Besson movie, Leon: The Professional.

The movie starred Jean Reno as a professional hitman. When a little girl in the building he lives has her family killed, he takes her in as a protege.

This puts him in the crosshairs of the corrupt Drug Enforcement Administration. The movie is a cult classic among 90s action movies and Portman became a major star.

Army of the Dead (2021)

Dave Bautista standing in the bones of bodies in Army of the Dead
Dave Bautista standing in the bones of bodies in Army of the Dead. Pic credit: Clay Enos/Netflix

On the outside, Army of the Dead looks like another Zack Snyder horror movie, but it is much more than that. While it has horror elements, it is as much an action movie as anything.

Dave Bautista leads the cast as a man putting together a term of mercenaries to go into Vegas and retrieve hundreds of millions of dollars for the former casino owner.

This came after a mysterious creature went into Vegas and turned everyone there into zombies before the government walled it off and planned to nuke the town.

With a ticking clock, the team heads in only to find the zombies are under the rule of the Alpha and his Queen, and while there is a small truce at the start, things go downhill when one member of the team makes a fatal mistake.

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.

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.

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 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).

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