Netflix has an incredible selection of movies and TV shows in a wide variety of genres: romance, tragedy, science fiction, comedy, and much, much more. All of those genres are great, I guess, and you’re welcome to watch them if you want, but it’s very important to note that none of those genres have as many explosions per minute (EPM) as action. Action is the industry leader in EPM. And that means, if I understand EPM as a statistic, that those other genres are not as good as action. Sorry! They’re just not. That’s why we’re focusing on action today, and specifically the best action movies on Netflix. These are the Netflix movies that will deliver not only the most EPM possible, but the most PPM (punches per minute), CCPM (car chases per minute), and GGKBGWDOLPM (good guys killing bad guys while delivering one-liners per minute) as well. Buckle up: these are the best action movies on Netflix.
The Best Action Movies on Netflix
There was a time in our country when disaster movies were back in a big way, Ben Affleck was a young sex symbol, and Aerosmith power ballads were cool. The time was 1998, and we can revisit it anytime we’d like by firing up Armageddon on Netflix. This is action in its biggest, dumbest, and most sincere form. Everyone on screen is taking this seriously so that you don’t have to, and that’s Armageddon’s gift to mankind. Armageddon is one of the best action movies on Netflix, so turn it on right now. You wooon’t wanna miss a thing.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Marvel Studios’ “Marvel Cinematic Universe” (MCU) connects all the Marvel Studios-owned films based on Marvel Comics characters. Just like in the comics, superheroes pop up in each other’s lives, team up, and even disagree. And all the groundwork the MCU laid in individual superhero movies led up to this: Civil War, a superhero-packed extravaganza that pits good guys against other good guys. The action here is pretty much non-stop, and they find a little time for plot, too. The film is based on a very popular comic series from Marvel, and all of the many intertwining stories from the Civil War event are available as graphic novels, if you’re into that sort of thing — though you certainly don’t need to be to enjoy the movie version of Civil War.
Hero was one of the highlights of the brief but wonderful martial arts revival of the late 90s and early 2000s. Jet Li is at the height of his powers in what is widely considered his best film. Hero is beautifully shot and earned critical acclaim all around the world. The film is in Chinese with English subtitles, so just be aware that you’re going to have to do a little bit of reading in between all of the ass-kicking.
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Quentin Tarantino’s Nazi-killing extravaganza is everything you’d expect from the famous filmmaker. It’s star-studded, ultra-violent, beautifully shot, and features plenty of revenge. Historical fiction veers into alternate-reality fiction as Tarantino’s heroes blast their way through fictional and real-life Nazis. This is not one to watch with the kids — it’s Tarantino, after all — but if you don’t mind a little bit of blood (well, actually, a lot of blood) and a bit of foul language (again, actually a lot), this movie is a fantastically entertaining way to spend two and half hours. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll scream for Nazi blood. This is easily one of the best action moves on Netflix, so add it to your queue right now.
Lord of War (2005)
This is a movie in which Nicholas Cage and Jared Leto play illegal arms dealers. This may or may not sound promising, depending on how you feel about Nicholas Cage (or Jared Leto). To be honest, I was a little skeptical about this one myself. But Lord of War is a legitimately good movie with enough smarts to support its fairly serious subject. The film draws inspiration from real-life arms dealers and grapples with real issues while still providing plenty of what you came for: action. It gets my stamp of approval.
The Matrix (1999)
Remember when The Matrix first came out, and you thought it was the coolest thing you’d ever seen? It had those weird special effects that made it look like Keanu Reeves could stop time, and it was back when trench coats seemed at least a little cool, at least in theory, and the movie had a plot that seemed perfectly suited for the information age. What a cool movie The Matrix was. I wonder if it still holds up all these years later?
Guess what: it does! I mean, the sequels (which are also on Netflix) totally don’t, in my opinion, but this first movie totally does. And you can watch it again, right now, on Netflix.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
All of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies have subtitles instead of numbers, so it’s hard to remember which one is which, but you can trust me when I say that this is the first one — the one from 2003, and the one that kicked off a worldwide sensation. This is family-friendly action at its finest, and it’s well worth revisiting if you’re a Pirates of the Caribbean fan — or watching for the first time, if you spent the early 2000s in a coma or something. Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley star as a pirate and a couple of non-pirates, respectively.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Quentin Tarantino’s most famous movie may also be his best. Like most of Tarantino’s work, Pulp Fiction is a gory tribute to all the pop culture and movies he’s ever loved, and it’s full of cursing and racial slurs and blood spouting every which way. It’s a true action flick with a weird edge. It’s a must-watch for Tarantino fans, and even non-fans should watch this iconic flick at least once.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Man, was I worried about Rogue One. I’d like to think that I’m a trusting person, but Star Wars has burned me before. I’ve got some childhood trauma here, man. So as the franchise’s first-ever spin-off movie went back into production for re-shoots and rumors swirled, I had some concerns. But I still saw it right when it came out, obviously. I mean, it’s still Star Wars.
And you know what? It was AWESOME. Rogue One is perhaps the best Star Wars movie of the past thirty years, and by perhaps, I mean that I personally think it is and that you should go on Netflix right now and watch it.
V for Vendetta (2005)
Based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore (which is also excellent — be sure to read it), V for Vendetta is a moody and atmospheric dystopian action flick. Natalie Portman plays Evey, who gets involved with the sympathetic terrorist V (Hugo Weaving) and his mission to free England and the rest of Europe from fascist rule. V sports the famous Guy Fawkes mask, which has since become a staple of protests worldwide as well as the hacker group Anonymous.
There have been a fair number of xXx movies by now, and most of them are bad. But this first one is definitely not bad, and merits its spot here among the best action movies on Netflix. Vin Diesel stars as Xander Cage, criminal daredevil turned super-spy. It’s an absurd premise that promises tons of non-stop action — and that’s exactly what this film delivers. I am not going to tell you that this is an intelligent film, but I am going to tell you that it’s one of the best action movies on Netflix, because it is.
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