Entertainment

The 20 Best Action Movies of 2019

The best action movies in theaters, the best action movies on Netflix, the best action movies everywhere. Start watching now.

terminator dark fate
Terminator: Dark Fate | Parmount Pictures
Terminator: Dark Fate | Parmount Pictures

As a cultural commodity, the action movie is in a state of flux. On one end of the spectrum, you have enormous, globe-devouring public spectacles like Avengers: Endgame, last year's biggest blockbuster and a genuine pop culture phenomenon; on the other end, smaller crime thrillers and adventure stories, once the beating heart and lifeblood of the genre, have been relegated to relatively under-the-radar releases on streaming platforms and on-demand services. Except for the rare successful franchise like John Wick, it feels like the middle class of action movie-dom has been hollowed out.

Still, the current moment is a fascinating time to be a fan of movies where cars blow up and people kick each other in the throat. Like last year's list, the goal here is to celebrate the best action titles of 2019 on the big screen and on streaming platforms, which could mean superhero epics, foreign language slugfests, and, more likely than not, at least one movie starring a former professional wrestler. As the grizzled, tobacco-spitting squad leader in an action movie might say, we're getting the gang back together. 

New year, new movies: check out our list of the Best Movies of 2020Best Action Movies of 2020, and Most Underrated Movies of 2020.

polar movie
Jasper Savage/Netflix

20. Polar

Release date: January 25
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Vanessa Hudgens, Katheryn Winnick, Matt Lucas
Director: Jonas Åkerlund (Lords of Chaos)
Why it’s worth watching: On the surface, this adaptation of a graphic novel about a globe-trotting hitman nicknamed Black Kaiser (Mikkelsen) looks like a John Wick clone, complete with absurdist world-building and balletic gun-fighting. But the actual tone of movie, which follows the Kaiser on the verge of his retirement from the murder business, is hyper-kinetic and more than a little sleazy. Instead of the stylized, craft cocktail veneer of Wick, director Jonas Åkerlund, who has directed music videos for artists like Madonna, Taylor Swift, and Maroon 5, pursues the garish chaos and screaming tastelessness of the Crank series. Not all of the provocations are effective -- for example, the opening scene with Johnny Knoxville getting assassinated mid-blowjob will likely send squeamish viewers back to the Netflix homepage -- but Mikkelsen gives a moving, soulful performance. Whether he's instructing children on how to disembowel an enemy or dodging bullets in the nude during a log-cabin siege, Mikkelsen keeps the movie grounded, and, ultimately, makes it worth watching despite its flaws.
Where to watch: Stream on Netflix (Watch the trailer)

cold pursuit movie
Summit Entertainment

19. Cold Pursuit

Release date: February 8
Cast: Liam Neeson, Laura Dern, Emmy Rossum, Tom Bateman
Director: Hans Petter Moland (In Order of Disappearance)
Why it’s worth watching: More of a darkly comedic crime saga than a straightforward action-thriller in the mold of Taken, this Colorado-set revenge tale is centered around a snowplow driver named Nels Coxman (Neeson) who kills drug dealers and dumps their bodies in an icy river. He's set on this violent, chilly path after the tragic death of his son Kyle, who suffers a heroin overdose despite Nels' claims that Kyle was never "a druggie." The various criminals Nels antagonizes, plus their low-life associates and a couple local cops, take up more screen time than you'd expect, giving the proceedings a rollicking, shaggy-dog ensemble vibe that can be an odd fit with Neeson's angry dad schtick. (Neeson also made some horrifying comments during the film's press tour, which make some the script's crude attempts at "edgy" racist humor feel particularly misguided.) Though the film's central revenge plot can be tedious, the margins of the story are filled with scraggly character actors like William Forsythe, some genuinely clever bits of dialogue, and a handful of inspired visual moments of whimsy. Overlong and undercooked, Cold Pursuit is not in the same league as The Commuter or Non-Stop, Neeson's recent collaborations with director Jaume Collet-Serra, but it has a droll quality that shines through the piles of snow.
Where to watch: Stream on HBO Go; rent on Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, and YouTube (Watch the trailer)

the gangster the cop the devil
Well Go USA Entertainment

18. The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil

Release date: June 7
Cast: Ma Dong-seok, Kim Mu-yeol, Kim Sung-kyu, Heo Dong-won
Director: Lee Won-tae (Man of Will)
Why it’s worth watching: The Korean crime thriller The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil has one of those simple, straight-forward premises where you'll likely know if you're in or out right away. (Sylvester Stallone has already scooped up the remake rights, so he's all in.) As the title suggests, the plot follows a gangster (Train to Busan's break-out star Ma Dong-seok) and a cop (Kim Mu-yeol) who temporarily join forces, putting aside their natural distrust and simmering animosity, to hunt down a serial killer known only as K (Kim Sung-kyu). He's not exactly the devil, but he's close enough. Dashing and terrifying, K selects his victims by getting into minor traffic accidents with them, bumping their cars and then stabbing them when they get out to inspect the damages. For fans of Thomas Harris novels or Michael Mann films, The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil will feel familiar -- the procedural aspects are too formulaic at points, leaning on stock characters and rote conflicts -- but Ma Dong-seok, a burly and wry performer, makes the most of his role as the heavy. He's good enough that you wish the rest of the movie was operating at the same level.
Where to watch: Rent on Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, and YouTube (Watch the trailer)

terminator dark fate
Paramount Pictures

17. Terminator: Dark Fate

Release date: November 1
Cast: Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes
Director: Tim Miller (Deadpool)
Why it’s worth watching: All of the post-T2Terminator movies have felt encumbered by the apocalyptic implications of the series, particularly the deterministic time-loop narrative acrobatics, and Terminator: Dark Fate, the latest attempt to revive the franchise, is no exception. Even though the movie brought back James Cameron in a producing role, erased the plot baggage of the non-T2 sequels, and recruited Linda Hamilton to reprise her role as Sarah Connor, it has some of the same problems as other recent Terminator chapters. (Let's be honest: No villain is going to top Robert Patrick's liquid-metal bad guy.) Still, the middle section of the film, which traces a race across the border that eventually leads to Schwarzenegger's aging cyborg, succeeds as a nervy science-fiction parable with real-world implications and hard-earned tension. Before it descends into all-out vehicular mayhem and CG chaos in its final stretch, Terminator: Dark Fate paves a new road forward with the confidence that's been lacking in many other recent high-profile reboots this century. 
Where to watch: Rent on AmazoniTunesVudu, and YouTube (Watch the trailer)

dragged across concrete
Lionsgate

16. Dragged Across Concrete

Release date: March 22
Cast: Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, Tory Kittles, Michael Jai White
Director: S. Craig Zahler (Brawl in Cell Block 99)
Why it’s worth watching: The vivid title of this unapologetically provocative, occasionally ponderous cop epic serves as either a welcome mat or a warning sign depending on your tolerance for hard-boiled dialogue, shocking violence, and the screen presence of controversial star Mel Gibson. Playing Officer Brett Ridgeman, Gibson brings a weary stillness and a wounded pride to the role of a racist cop suspended for getting caught on video using excessive force on the job. Strapped for cash and looking to make one big score, Ridgeman and his younger partner Lurasetti (Vaughn) plan to steal money from a team of bank robbers, including a criminal (Kittles) just released from prison and looking to make life better for his family. The set-up is familiar, riffing on similar heists you've seen in noir films and in crime novels, but Zahler's staging of the major sequences, like a prolonged gun battle near the end, can be gripping and his writing, particularly in the drawn-out stake-out scenes, can be pleasing to the ear. While Dragged Across Concrete lacks the punch of Brawl in Cell Block 99, his previous (and much stronger) collaboration with Vaughn, it's clearly the work of an artist looking to expand his scope and willing to test his audience's patience.  
Where to watch: Stream on HBO Go; rent on Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, and YouTube (Watch the trailer)

domino
Saban Films

15. Domino

Release date: May 31
Cast: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Carice van Houten, Guy Pearce, Nicolas Bro
Director: Brian De Palma (Mission: Impossible
Why it’s worth watching: Brian De Palma's taste for the grotesque both drives and ultimately derails this fascinating, maddening late-career terrorism thriller, which arrived unceremoniously on VOD after being delayed for vaguely troubled reasons and talked down in the press by the legendary director himself. Game of Thrones star Coster-Waldau brings flickers of roguish charm and heaps of weary resignation to the role of Christian, a Copenhagen cop who gets wrapped up in an admittedly confusing international web of lies spun by an obnoxious heel of a CIA agent (Pearce). Mostly, Christian wants to avenge the death of his partner, who was having an affair with another cop played by van Houten. As disjointed and wrong-head as the film can be, Domino is worth seeking out for a handful of deliriously staged, virtuosically shot suspense sequences, including a shocking murder that leads to a rooftop chase and a bewildering set-piece involving a bullfight and a drone. (Just like in classics like Blow Out and Femme Fatale, De Palma remains obsessed with visceral questions of perspective.) Even in its possibly compromised state, the movie has more visual spark than most of the blockbusters rolling off the assembly line this summer.
Where to watch: Stream on Netflix; rent on AmazoniTunes, and YouTube (Watch the trailer)

furie
Well Go USA Entertainment

14. Furie

Release date: March 1
Cast: Veronica Ngo, Cát Vy, Phan Thanh Nhiên, Phạm Anh Khoa
Director: Le-Van Kiet (The Rich Woman)
Why it’s worth watching: Kidnapping the child of an action hero has to be one of the dumbest things a villain can do. Don't you know that person you just messed with is going to come after you with all their special skills, their physical strength, and their righteous anger? Apparently, the child-smuggling, organ-stealing black market gang at the center of Furie, a brisk Vietnamese action thriller, had no idea that local debt collector and single-mother Hai (Ngo of Star Wars: The Last Jedi) was so resilient when they decided to pluck her daughter from a crowd. Hai runs, kicks, punches, and shoots her way to her daughter. From a story-telling perspective, the plot isn't that different from various Taken-like tales of parental vengeance, but the filmmakers have tricked out the story with enough emotional flashbacks and specific cultural details to make it stand out. The use of color in some of the dimly lit fights is particularly impressive, like when Ngo becomes a blur of pink as she battles an attacker on a rickety train. 
Where to watch: Stream on Netflix; rent on AmazoniTunes, and YouTube (Watch the trailer)

triple frontier
Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix

13. Triple Frontier

Release date: March 13
Cast: Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund
Director: J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year)
Why it’s worth watching: Any movie that inspires you to listen to Metallica's Ride the Lightning for a week after seeing it is doing something right. In addition to opening up with "For Whom the Bell Tolls," this military heist thriller, which finds Affleck leading a team of ex-Special Forces hotshots on a mission to rob a drug dealer in the jungle, hits all the necessary action movie beats: There's a "getting the gang back together" scene, a "are you in or are you out?" sequence, a "put the money down we gotta go" moment, and, sure, a "holy shit" helicopter crash in the mountains to show how much money Netflix was willing to shell out. So why does the movie feel underwhelming? Triple Frontier started life as another tactics-obsessed Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal project -- one that nearly every famous male actor in Hollywood was rumored to star in at some point -- but it was eventually taken over by Chandor, the helmer of the macho finance drama Margin Call and the sleepy '70s crime riff A Most Violent Year, and he gives the material an occasionally ponderous touch. Caught between an ultra-tense Bigelow epic and a scrappier WWE Studios thrill ride, the movie never quite finds its footing, particularly in the second half. Still, those Metallica songs sound great.
Where to watch: Stream on Netflix (Watch the trailer)

angel has fallen
Lionsgate

12. Angel Has Fallen

Release date: August 23
Cast: Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Danny Huston, Nick Nolte
Director: Ric Roman Waugh (Shot Caller)
Why it’s worth watching: Growing increasingly weathered and grizzled with each passing year, Gerard Butler has become a surprisingly endearing, warm screen presence in various cookie-cutter action movies. Deviating from the siege-structure of Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen, Angel Has Fallen takes a slightly grittier approach, following Butler's put-upon Secret Service Agent Mike Banning as he goes on the run, Fugitive-style, after being framed for an assassination attempt on the President of the United States (Freeman). Thanks to Butler's lunkhead charm, a self-aware performance from Nolte as Banning's bearded Vietnam veteran father, Waugh's taut direction of the bullet-ridden set-pieces, and a script peppered with amusing references to current events, this is the rare threequel that easily tops the previous entries in the series. Over a decade after yelling his way through Zach Snyder's macho dorm room staple 300, Butler has learned how to anchor a movie like this with a gruff, gun-toting form of grace.
Where to watch: Stream on Netflix; rent on Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, and YouTube (Watch the trailer)

triple threat
Well Go USA Entertainment

11. Triple Threat

Release date: March 19
Cast: Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Tiger Chen, Scott Adkins
Director: Jesse V. Johnson (The Debt Collector)
Why it’s worth watching: If you're the type of person who reads a list like this, Triple Threat has probably been on your radar. Marketed as an Expendables-like team-up military adventure featuring three of the biggest names in modern martial arts movie-dom (Jaa of the Ong Bak series, Uwais of The Raid series, and Chen of The Man of Tai Chi and John Wick: Chapter III), along with DTV favorites Scott Adkins and Michael Jai White in crucial bad guy roles, the project gives off an immediately appealing All-Star Team vibe. But, like many battle royale style action movies, the execution doesn't always live up to the potential. For such a short feature, the plot, which mostly revolves around the protection of a billionaire heiress, can feel overly complicated and there are simply too many scenes of grisly, hurried gunfire when you'd rather see the cast engage in some less bullet-ridden, more naturalistic hand-to-hand combat. Enough with the assault rifles already, guys. Still, the performers are all giving it their all and the fist-throwing climax of the movie is a blast. Director Jesse Johnson, who has another Adkins movie further down this list, knows how to make these movies tick.
Where to watch: Stream on Netflix; rent on AmazoniTunes, and YouTube (Watch the trailer)

6 underground
Netflix

10. 6 Underground

Release date: December 13
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Mélanie Laurent, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ben Hardy
Director:Michael Bay (Transformers)
Why it’s worth watching: Michael Bay's Netflix-funded action extravaganza opens with a 20-minute car chase through the streets (and museums) of Florence that includes an annoyed nun giving our heroes the finger, a group of cute puppies running in slow-motion, and Dave Franco yelling "fuck" at the top of his lungs while repeatedly almost crashing into pedestrians. Before that, Ryan Reynolds, playing a tech billionaire who made his money with "magnets," fakes his death in a plane while wearing a helmet with a Red Bull logo on in it. That should give you a sense of what you're dealing with here. Every aspect of this globe-trotting adventure team-up, from its gleefully silly libertarian politics to its sadistically gross splatter effects, feels designed as an affront to collective notions of "good" taste. No longer reigned in by the relative limitations of the Transformers franchise, Bay leans into his most obnoxious tendencies here, giving 6 Underground a crude type of artistic integrity that's become all too rare in blockbuster filmmaking.
Where to watch: Stream on Netflix (Watch the trailer)

gemini man
Paramount Pictures

9. Gemini Man

Release date: October 11
Cast: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, Benedict Wong 
Director:Ang Lee (Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk)
Why it’s worth watching: Audiences mostly skipped this Ang Lee directed science-fiction thriller, which failed to light up the box office, but they missed a sturdy, thoughtful star vehicle with a fascinating, expertly calibrated performance from Will Smith. Playing a retired assassin and his younger clone, who hunts him down with deadly accuracy, the former Fresh Prince actor brings sensitivity, wisdom, and humor to bear on a challenging double role that might have felt cheesy in less experienced hands. Confronted with his own capacity to kill, you feel his pain and his bewilderment as his violent past catches up with him. Like he did with 2003's underrated Hulk, Lee finds psychological nuance in cheesy B-movie material, staging bullet-ridden action set-pieces that push technological limits while still reflecting heavier themes about identity, guilt, and the passage of time.
Where to watch: Rent on Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, and YouTube (Watch the trailer)

master z ip man legacy
Well Go USA Entertainment

8. Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy

Release date: April 12
Cast: Max Zhang, Dave Bautista, Liu Yan, Xing Yu
Director: Yuen Woo-ping (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny)
Why it’s worth watching: There's a sequence in Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy, the latest entry in the massively entertaining series of martial arts films, where Michelle Yeoh, playing crime boss Tso Ngan Kwan, faces off against an attacker, and the whole movie gets a jolt of electricity. Yeoh's part in the film is small, but hardly insignificant: She lends gravitas and kineticism to the proceedings. The larger narrative, which follows gifted fighter Cheung Tin Chi (Zhang) as he opens a grocery store and attempts to stay out of trouble, is packed with similar bursts of energy, hand-to-hand combat scenes that make the viewer gasp, laugh, and cheer at the physical grace and choreographed precision on display. Though it largely abandons the gestures towards actual history that defined the original Ip Man entries and doesn't feature Donnie Yen, the stoic face of the series, Master Z has a welcome sense of humor, a winsome tone, and a mustache-sporting Dave Bautista wearing suits that struggle to contain his giant frame. What more do you want?
Where to watch: Stream on Netflix; rent on AmazoniTunesVudu, and YouTube (Watch the trailer)

first love movie
Well Go USA Entertainment

7. First Love

Release date: September 27
Cast: Masataka Kubota, Nao Ōmori, Shōta Sometani, Sakurako Konishi
Director: Takashi Miike (Audition)
Why it’s worth watching: Leaping from heart-tugging romance to stomach-churning bloodshed, Takashi Miike's crime lark First Love never settles down. That type of stylistic hyperactivity, a reluctance to find a lane and stay in it, can be irritating if improperly executed, but Miike, a prolific filmmaker with over 100 genre-spanning movies under his belt, is a master of controlled chaos. The relationship between despondent young boxer Leo (Kubota) and haunted young prostitute Monca (Konishi) provides a structural backbone for the narrative, which ricochets across a city as Yakuzas, Triads, cops, and underlings scheme away the night. Guns get pulled, swords get drawn, and, in one particularly kinetic moment, the movie switches to brightly colored animation, perhaps to cover for an effect the production couldn't afford. Who knows? First Love's restless energy keeps you swooning even as the bodies pile up. 
Where to watch: Rent on Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, and YouTube (Watch the trailer

the bouncer movie
Océan Films Distribution

6. The Bouncer

Release date: January 11
Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Sveva Alvit, Sami Bouajila, Kaaris
Director: Julien Leclercq (The Crew)
Why it’s worth watching: When it comes to aging action stars from the '80s and '90s, it can be hard to know which of their new movies are truly worth watching and which ones you wouldn't even pick up in a Blockbuster bargain bin. For example, the title and the poster for The Bouncer, a new crime thriller starring Jean-Claude Van Damme as the titular enforcer, are altogether unremarkable and don't really give you an idea of how good this movie is. This is a smart, no-nonsense, character-based action movie featuring one of Van Damme's finest broken-down, hollowed-out performances. The Bloodsport star plays Lukas, an ex-bodyguard turned nightclub tough guy who gets recruited by the cops to spy on his boss at a strip club. (He's not a willing snitch: The government suspects the crime boss of being in charge of a counterfeiting ring and they squeeze Lukas, who takes care of his young daughter, into serving as their mole.) While the setup is basic neo-noir stuff, the execution here is top-notch, from the direction and writing to the performances and the fights, which are brutal and quick. With his gaunt face and expressive eyes, Van Damme is perfect as a man consistently pushed to the brink.
Where to watch: Rent on Amazon, iTunes, and YouTube (Watch the trailer)

alita battle agent
20th Century Fox

5. Alita: Battle Angel

Release date: February 14
Cast: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Keean Johnson, Mahershala Ali
Director: Robert Rodriguez (Sin City)
Why it’s worth watching: The first thing you notice are the large eyes, beckoning like portals to another dimension. Alita, a cyborg discovered in a junkyard by a possibly mad scientist consumed with grief over the death of his daughter, is played by the actress Rosa Salazar (Maze Runner, Bird Box), but she's brought to uncanny life via technology Alita producer and co-writer James Cameron developed for his alien environmental opus Avatar. (Cameron was originally going to direct Alita, but he got sidetracked by the world of the Na'vi.) Compared to Avatar, or other recent colorful acts of gonzo-world-building like Jupiter Ascending or Valerian: City of a Thousand Planets, Alita: Battle Angel moves in fits and starts, occasionally struggling to merge Cameron's hyper-earnest, ponderous sensibility with Rodriguez's more garish, ironic approach. Still, when the movie connects, like in the ridiculous and kinetic "motorball" sequence, which finds Alita fending off brutish attackers in a violent, X-Games version of tag, it's as exhilarating as this type of reality-altering, money-burning sci-fi blockbuster gets. Perhaps fitting for a story about a character's complicated relationship to her own body, the movie takes time to feel comfortable in its own CG skin.
Where to watch: Stream on HBO Go; rent on Amazon, iTunes, and YouTube (Watch the trailer)

avengement
Samuel Goldwyn Films

4. Avengement

Release date: May 24
Cast: Scott Adkins, Craig Fairbrass, Thomas Turgoose, Nick Moran
Director: Jesse V. Johnson (The Debt Collector)
Why it’s worth watching: DTV action star Scott Adkins knows how to land a punch, but this chronologically fractured fight film, which combines a bloody prison drama with a Guy Ritchie-esque underworld plot, also lets the absurdly buff actor show off his acting chops as well. With a metal grill on his teeth and gnarly scars on his face, Adkins plays the Biblically named Cain, a former boxer turned convict who starts the movie by escaping his security detail on a trip to the hospital to visit his dying mother. On the run, Cain ends up at a pub in the middle of the day, where he entertains the assembled goons with his convoluted life story, which involves a betrayal by his older brother and many grueling jailhouse brawls. Johnson, a stuntman-turned-filmmaker who has directed Adkins features like Accident Man and Triple Threat, co-wrote the refreshingly sharp script, which has more on its mind than your average fight-driven revenge film, and he stages the ferocious, bare-knuckle melees with appropriate vigor, allowing Adkins to give one of the best performances of his career. 
Where to watch: Stream on Netflix; rent on AmazoniTunes, and YouTube (Watch the trailer)

Shadow
Well Go USA

3. Shadow

Release date: May 3
Cast: Deng Chao, Sun Li, Zheng Kai, Wang Qianyuan
Director: Zhang Yimou (Hero)
Why it’s worth watching: In a city covered in gray clouds and besieged by constant rain, an umbrella can become your last line of defense against the elements. In Shadow, the latest visually stunning action epic from Hero and House of Flying Daggers wuxia master Zhang Yimou, parasols are more than helpful sun-blockers: They can be turned into deadly weapons, shooting boomerang-like blades of steel at oncoming attackers and transforming into protective sleds for traveling through the slick streets. These devices are one of many imaginative leaps made in telling this Shakespearean saga of palace intrigue, vengeance, and secret doppelgangers set in China's Three Kingdoms period. Commander Yu (Deng) serves at the mercy of the cruel King Peiliang (Zheng), who rules like a petty and petulant teenager, but the brave Commander is actually a "shadow," a body double recruited to serve as a potential replacement in a time of crisis. The "real" Commander Yu, also played by Deng, nurses a festering battle wound underground, training his double and scheming to overthrow the king. This is a martial arts epic where the dense plotting is as tricky as the often balletic fight scenes. The narrative does lose steam in stretches, but the brilliantly designed and impeccably edited action sequences are simply on another level. If the battle scenes in Game of Thrones left you frustrated, Shadow provides a thrilling alternative.
Where to watch: Stream on Netflix; rent on AmazoniTunes, and YouTube (Watch the trailer)

the standoff at sparrow creek
RLJ Entertainment

2. The Standoff at Sparrow Creek

Release date: January 18
Cast: James Badge Dale, Brian Geraghty, Patrick Fischler, Happy Anderson
Director: Henry Dunham
Why it's worth watching:The Standoff at Sparrow Creek is a movie that understands the value of restraint. After a mass shooting at a police funeral, a militia group in Michigan assembles at a warehouse to double-check the status of their massive stockpile of deadly weapons, including a batch of AR-15s. Turns out one of the guns is missing -- the radio has confirmed that the shooter used an AR-15 -- and only one of the men in the group could have grabbed it. Quickly, the Reservoir Dogs-like scenario spirals out into a simultaneously chatty and gripping whodunit with James Badge Dale's gruff ex-cop Gannon interrogating his fellow conspiracy-minded associates, mostly played by brilliant character actors given room to flex here, in an effort to find the killer before the shooting can be pinned on the group as a whole. But can any of these shadowy figures be trusted? This isn't an anthropological study of right-wing paranoia under Donald Trump or a treatise on white male rage in the age of InfoWars -- the exact specifics of what all these guys believe and hope to achieve with their considerable firepower are kept vague -- but Dunham, making his feature debut here, zeroes in on the personalities and attitudes of the men drawn to these fringe groups. He shows you what makes them tick. Then, he makes them squirm. 
Where to watch: Stream on Hulu; rent on Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, and YouTube (Watch the trailer)

john wick chapter 3
Lionsgate

1. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Release date: May 17
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos
Director:Chad Stahelski (John Wick: Chapter 2)
Why it’s worth watching: Whether he's slamming an enemy in the face with a book in a library or dodging stray bullets while galloping down a Manhattan street on horseback, John Wick remains calm. The always-on-the-run assassin, returning for the third entry in this surprisingly resilient series, shows weakness, pain, and even vulnerability, but no weapon can puncture the armor of stillness Reeves brings to the role, and his performance is what makes these movies so gripping. The story is mostly silly -- Wick has been declared "excommunicado" by the order of assassins he used to belong to and must seek out old allies across the globe -- but Reeves and his collaborators, including series director Stahelski and the top-notch stunt team, never lose sight of the core elements that make Wick tick. Even as the mythology grows more complicated, the cast expands to introduce comically named characters like The Adjudicator (Billions break-out Asia Kate Dillon) or The Director (Angelica Huston), and the fights become even more elaborate, Reeves floats through the film. Even if some of the original's underworld grit has been shined away, replaced with scuff-free comic-book opulence and whiskey commercial ambiance, the series stays committed to simple pleasures. Alongside Tom Cruise's more outwardly stressed Ethan Hunt, Wick remains the best action hero Hollywood has to offer.
Where to watch: Stream on HBO Go; rent on Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, and YouTube (Watch the trailer)

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Dan Jackson is a senior staff writer at Thrillist Entertainment. He's on Twitter @danielvjackson.