20 Best Action Movies on Netflix Canada Right Now
Whether they're serving up suave secret agents or high-flying superheroes, these action flicks are guaranteed to get your adrenaline pumping.
Meet Anna Poliatova (Sasha Luss): gorgeous Parisian model by day, brutal KGB assassin by night. The year is 1990, and Anna’s iron-fisted employers—including her handler, Olga (Helen Mirren)—have promised to free her from servitude after five years. But what’s an action thriller without a little betrayal? Anna certainly doesn’t tackle any new ground, but real-life model Luss’s charismatic performance, impressive action choreography and a non-chronological structure easily make it one of the best action movies on Netflix Canada.
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The Old Guard (2020)
As the writer-director behind 2000’s Love & Basketball, Gina Prince-Bythewood might seem like an odd choice to helm a shoot-em-up about ancient warriors, yet The Old Guard is her strongest feature to date. Andy (Charlize Theron) leads a team of immortal mercenaries who’ve been taking on world-saving missions for centuries; their secret identities are compromised, however, when a former CIA operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor) learns of their regenerative abilities. Think you’ve seen it all in the superhero genre? The Old Guard says otherwise.
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Photo: Universal Pictures
Jason Bourne (2016)
Set 12 years after the events of The Bourne Ultimatum, cinema’s most resourceful super spy (Matt Damon) has finally recovered from his amnesia and is making ends meet in Greece as a street fighter. But just when Jason Bourne thought he was out, they pull him back in: more Central Intelligence Agency secrets risk exposure, and CIA baddies played by Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander and Vincent Cassel plot to silence Bourne once and for all.
Photo: Well Go USA
Ip Man (2008)
Ip Man is more than just nationalistic popcorn fare—although it certainly is that too. This cult classic, which launched its own film series and brought Hong Kong star Donnie Yen international fame, is one of the best action movies on Netflix Canada. Yen stars as the titular martial arts master who almost defeats the Imperial Japanese Army using only his fists of fury. Come for the exhilarating action choreography (courtesy of Sammo Hung); stay for the rousing story.
Armed with nothing but a smartphone and sheer brilliance behind the wheel, a getaway driver (Frank Grillo) must evade trigger-happy motorcyclists over the course of one brutal night. Our hero, it turns out, is the unwitting holder of $230,000 in stolen cash—and two powerful mob bosses want the loot for themselves. Because most of Wheelman takes place—you guessed it—inside of a car, writer-director Jeremy Rush has to rely on layered dialogue, rhythmic editing and slick cinematography to ramp up the suspense. And he succeeds with flying colours.
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Photo: STX Entertainment
The Foreigner (2017)
One of the finest flicks from the ever-growing “senior action hero” genre, Hong Kong martial arts icon Jackie Chan stars as Ngoc Minh Quan, a Chinese restaurant owner in London whose teen daughter is killed in an IRA bombing. When Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan), a Northern Irish politician and former IRA leader, refuses to help him, Quan unleashes his own guerilla-style campaign against the government for the names of the perpetrators. (Quan, as it turns out, is a former special forces op.) The Foreigner proves two things: Chan and Brosnan are best when playing against type, and no, Chan actually isn’t too old for this.
Peter Parker is definitely a “glass-half-full” kind of guy. Instead of cursing his luck for getting bitten by a genetically-modified spider, he sees it as an opportunity to make a difference, donning the red-and-blue tights to become everyone’s favourite web-slinger. The unabashedly joyful scenes in which Peter (Tobey Maguire) starts exploring his new-found powers make being a superhero look like so. Much. Fun. Fuelled by Sam Raimi’s enthusiastic direction, that sense of fun is tempered with just the right amount of gravitas, with Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin making for a particularly memorable adversary.
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Photo: STX Entertainment
Den of Thieves (2018)
In this sprawling heist flick, Orange is the New Black’s Pablo Schreiber plays the leader of a top-notch gang of criminals, with Gerard Butler as the burly detective dead-set on taking them down. Writer-director Christian Gudegast manages to recreate the moral murk of classic thrillers from the past, while up-and-coming actor O’Shea Jackson Jr. impresses as a getaway driver playing both sides. Den of Thieves may read like a mere Heat remake on paper, but it boasts enough twists and turns to make it one of the best action movies on Netflix Canada.
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John Wick (2014)
When all is said and done, the John Wick series may prove to be Keanu Reeves’s greatest role. And while the second and third chapters of the franchise up the body count and deepen the character’s mythology, there’s no beating the original in terms of plot, world-building and yes, cheesiness. John Wick’s got it all: Reeves at his somber best, a shadowy New York City setting, thrillingly-choreographed set pieces and a mob boss briefing the audience on just how impossibly badass our hero is (see: the now-famous “pencil” monologue). And the extended nightclub action sequence, complete with pulse-pounding electronic music, raises the bar for the genre.
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Photo: STX Entertainment
21 Bridges (2019)
Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman) is a skilled NYPD detective who also has a reputation for being trigger-happy. After two war vets (Taylor Kitsch and Stephan James) steal a shipment of cocaine from a Mob-run restaurant and kill seven cops in the ensuing shootout, Davis is assigned to the case. His solution? Shut down all 21 river crossings on Manhattan Island in order to corner the suspects. One of the last films Boseman made before his death in 2020, 21 Bridges is both a satisfying thriller and an impressive late entry in the actor’s all-too-brief career.
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Photo: New Line Cinema
The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
Released just nine months after the legendary flop that was Cutthroat Island (1995), The Long Kiss Goodnight is the Renny Harlin shoot ‘em up that time forgot. Starring Geena Davis as an amnesiac housewife who discovers her former life as a highly trained CIA assassin, it underperformed at the box office thanks to a convoluted marketing campaign and an audience still drunk on Schwarzenegger and Stallone. The Long Kiss Goodnight is more than just a female Bourne Identity, however—it’s a mayhem-filled, side-splitting romp that immediately goes from zero-to-100—and stays there. In 2019, co-star Samuel L. Jackson declared it his favourite film he’d done. Enough said.
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First Blood (1982)
This survival-adventure about a Vietnam War veteran, John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone), who takes on small-town law enforcement could have easily strained credibility; instead, First Blood is one of the few action movies where the wounds—both physical and psychological—feel too real. Stallone and Richard Crenna (who plays Rambo’s hardened but sympathetic former superior) are superb, and Brian Dennehy—the petty sheriff that drives our hero over the edge—provides another thrilling showcase. First Blood is not only the first entry in a seemingly never-ending franchise, it’s the best.
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3:10 to Yuma (2007)
Mainly known for well-meaning Oscar bait (Cop Land, Walk the Line), director James Mangold entered the world of the western in 2007 and came out with a near-masterpiece. A remake of the 1957 film of the same name, 3:10 to Yuma replaces the original’s claustrophobia and redemptive themes with stark violence and impressive action sequences. Hell-bent on saving his land, impoverished rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale) agrees to escort notorious outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) to a train station for a $200 reward; during the journey, the polar opposites manage to find some semblance of a common ground, while Wade’s old gang plans to rescue their boss. Slick and bloody, 3:10 to Yuma will stand up to repeat viewings.
The Harder They Fall (2021)
This Jay-Z produced action flick features a stacked ensemble cast that includes Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo and the brilliant LaKeith Stanfield. Based on historical figures who loomed large in the American Wild West, The Harder They Fall packs in more explosions and gun battles than a Michael Bay movie—but boasts far superior storytelling. Plus, the soundtrack includes new music from Jay-Z and tracks by Kid Cudi, Lauryn Hill and Seal.
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One of the most-viewed Netflix original movies ever, Extraction follows Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth), a black-market mercenary sent to Dhaka, Bangladesh, to retrieve the kidnapped son of an Indian drug lord. In an action movie world filled with rapid-fire editing, lazy choreography and bad CGI, it’s a sight to behold Extraction’s now-famous 12-minute, single-shot fight scene. (The film’s director, Sam Hargrave, was a stunt coordinator for several movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.) Add this one to your queue—if you can stomach the endless body count.
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Red Notice (2021)
Some of the most memorable action movies come with a healthy side of humour, and in Red Notice, Ryan Reynolds delivers precisely that. With Dwayne Johnson and Gal Gadot, the Canadian actor stars as one of three characters at the centre of an art theft ring. Over the course of two snappy hours, the trio play a game of continent-hopping cat-and-mouse, switching roles along the way as a priceless artifact from ancient Egypt slips through one set of sticky fingers and into the next. Plots twist, major cameos pop up out of nowhere and the ending, though satisfying, hints at the possibility of a sequel. Fingers crossed.
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Army of Thieves (2021)
Would any “best of” movie list be complete without a prequel? Obviously not. Enter: Army of Thieves, the prequel to Army of the Dead. The story starts out in the sleepy Berlin suburb of Potsdam where banker-by-day, YouTube-safe-cracking-enthusiast-by-night Sebastian (director Matthias Schweighöfer doing double duty) naively gets himself involved in multiple bank heists that feature double- and triple-crosses. Meanwhile, a zombie plague rages in Nevada, providing an ominous backdrop for what’s to come.
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Bon Cop, Bad Cop (2006)
Oh, how marvelously Canadian this darkly funny buddy cop movie is. Non-Canadians might be shocked at the culture clash that can result from the meeting of two police officers (played by Colm Feore and Patrick Huard) from the adjoining Ontario and Quebec. It’s precisely that clash, however, that’s played for well-deserved laughs when the officers are forced to cooperate to solve the murder of a man whose body is found on the exact demarcation between the two provinces. Naturally, hockey plays a major role in the plot, too: several NHL teams are parodied while the narrative pivots around one of the beloved sport’s more unstable fanatics.
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Photo: Netflix Canada
Triple Frontier (2019)
Starring Ben Affleck, Oscar Issac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal, Triple Frontier is one of the most underrated action movies in recent memory. In this high-octane thriller, five former U.S. soldiers struggling to make ends meet set out to steal $75 million from a drug lord’s compound—located in the notorious “triple frontier” border zone between Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Their skill sets—and loyalties—are put to the test when the world’s most violent cartel seeks revenge.
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Photo: Netflix Canada
Point Blank (2019)
Not to be confused with the classic 1967 Lee Marvin film, Netflix’s Point Blank tells the tale of an ER nurse (Anthony Mackie) who must team up with a badly-injured criminal (Frank Grillo) in order to save the lives of his kidnapped wife and unborn child. To complicate matters further, they’ve got rival gangs and corrupt cops in hot pursuit!
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