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The Best Action Movies on Amazon Prime Right Now

If you're looking for explosions, you found the right list.

without remorse, michael b. jordan
Michael B. Jordan in 'Without Remorse' | Amazon Studios
Michael B. Jordan in 'Without Remorse' | Amazon Studios

The thrilling search for the ideal action movie to watch on a Friday night can often lead to an un-thrilling period of scrolling past titles you have no intention of ever watching. How did Steven Seagal even make so many movies? If you're digging through the seemingly bottomless action section of Amazon Prime, we're here to help you with this list of some of the best titles available right now. Some of these are fairly straightforward, meat-and-potatoes adventure movies. Some are a little more eccentric. All of them are worth checking out.

ALSO READ: Our curated guide to the Best Sci-Fi Movies on Amazon Prime and the Best Action Movies of 2021 (So Far)

centurion
Warner Bros.

Centurion (2010)

This gritty swords-and-sandals action movie, loosely based on the massacre of the Ninth Legion in 117 AD, came and went from theaters. If only star Michael Fassbender were a little more famous, director Neil Marshall already had Game of Thrones credits to his name, or Quantum of Solace, which featured Centurion's female lead Olga Kurylenko in her first acting role, had made an impression, audiences would have flocked to it. Oh well. Now people can catch up with this vicious, battle-heavy slice of history at home.

crimson tide
Buena Vista Pictures

Crimson Tide (1995)

Gene Hackman facing off against Denzel Washington sounds intense enough, a real showdown of no-nonsense actors, but then you put them on a submarine loaded with nuclear missiles? And you have Top Gun filmmaker Tony Scott behind the camera and Quentin Tarantino providing (uncredited) punch-up to the dialogue? Now you're really cooking. Along with the similarly bracing Hunt for Red October, Crimson Tide is one of the best close-quarter thrillers of its time, a study in white-knuckle suspense and star power.

domino
Saban Films

Domino (2019)

Brian De Palma's taste for the grotesque drives this fascinating, maddening late-career terrorism thriller. Game of Thrones star Nikolaj 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 (Guy Pearce). Mostly, Christian wants to avenge the death of his partner, who was having an affair with another cop played by Carice 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.

final score
Saban Films

Final Score (2018)

In the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, where he plays the hulking alien creature Drax, Dave Bautista projects an endearing combination of toughness and sensitivity. It's a quality that extends to the former pro wrestler's gruff but self-aware public persona, and it can also be found in this enjoyable VOD potboiler that should just be called "Die Hard in a soccer stadium." As ex-military hero Michael Knox, Bautista gets to fire a gun, beat up bad guys, and, in one gleefully ludicrous sequence, ride a motorcycle on the roof of the building without anyone in the crowd noticing. The plot is needlessly dense—the main villain (Ray Stevenson) is searching the arena for his brother, a political dissident who faked his death, got facial reconstruction surgery, grew a beard, and now looks like Pierce Brosnan—but the low-budget action is effective and Bautista is charismatic. Compared to other recent Die Hard knock-offs, Final Score has a scrappy, walk-through-glass charm that John McClane could appreciate.

first love
Well Go USA Entertainment

First Love (2019)

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 Monica (Konishi) provides a structural backbone for the narrative, which ricochets across Tokyo 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.

the girl with the dragon tattoo
Sony Pictures

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Stieg Larsson's brutal Millennium series of novels introduced the wider world to goth hacker Lisbeth Salander and the joys and torments of a very specific, regional brand of Scandinavian crime fiction: bleak, violent, and cold, both literally and figuratively. Given the books' appeal and the success of the 2009 Swedish adaptation, it was only natural that Hollywood would jump at the chance to make an English-language Girl with the Dragon Tattoo—and who better to direct it than David Fincher, who's tackled more than a few films about serial murder and insidious savagery? His adaptation stars Rooney Mara as Salander and Daniel Craig as Mikhail Blomkvist, and tosses the two together in the midst of a murder conspiracy involving a wealthy family, a series of horrific killings, and an unsolved disappearance that took place more than 40 years prior. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo reels you in with its mystery-thriller facade and slowly opens into a potent examination of the many different types of misogynistic cruelty hiding beneath society's surface.

hellboy
Sony Pictures

Hellboy (2004)

Even when he's not adapting a comic book, director Guillermo del Toro makes comic-book movies. Any random image from Crimson Peak, Pacific Rim, or Pan's Labyrinth looks like it was plucked from a graphic novel, so it only makes sense that Hellboy, the Mexican filmmaker's spin on writer Mike Mignola's idiosyncratic cult favorite, is a fire-roasted visual feast. As the titular wiseass demon with a right hand of stone, tough-guy Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy) grounds the action with his cigar-chomping charisma and keeps it from devolving into pure spooky spectacle. It's the rare haunted house you'd want to live in.

highlander
Thorn EMI Screen Entertainment

Highlander (1986)

Is Highlander a little ridiculous and cheesy? Yes, of course—that's part of the appeal. Following Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) as he battles other immortal warriors across time, attempting to chop off their heads so that "there can only be one," the movie's story is a bizarre hodgepodge of fantasy tropes, science-fiction flourishes, and historical goofiness. But the movie's visual style, a fog-heavy MTV-era bounty of bold choices courtesy of Australian filmmaker Russell Mulcahy, is the real selling point, along with the performances from Lambert and Sean Connery as his mentor. If your movie is going to be over the top, this is certainly one memorable way to do it.

the limey
Artisan Entertainment

The Limey (1999)

The crime genre, with its complicated web of plots, ever-shifting character motivations, and emphasis on surface-level pleasures, clearly suits Steven Soderbergh's exacting, cerebral style of filmmaking. Plenty of Soderbergh movies—like 1995's admirably knotty neo-noir The Underneath—find inventive, starling ways of cutting through the most obvious tough-guy clichés and hard-boiled contrivances. But The Limey, a sun-kissed LA chronicle of vengeance starring Terence Stamp as an English ex-con investigating the death of his daughter, might be Soderbergh's most emotionally impactful and sneakily poignant thriller. By slicing and dicing the narrative in a nonlinear manner, the movie achieves a stark power, drawing connections between the past and the present without sacrificing the urgency of the story. It's one of those pleasingly disjointed movies where every sharp fragment feels like it's in the right place.

the lost city of z
Amazon Studios

The Lost City of Z (2017)

Director James Gray's account of explorer Percy Fawcett's lush and perilous journey through the Amazon is the rare film to capture and channel nature's bewitching power. Charlie Hunnam, rousing and physical, stars as Percy, a turn-of-the-20th-century military man who embarks to South America to map Bolivia and cleanse his family name of scandal. Months of starvation, illness, piranha-infested waters, and encounters with natives end with the near-discovery of a hidden, advanced civilization. Gray makes room for court scenes, WWI battles, tender family drama, and a musical score that can stand alone. But in the end, the verdant unknown of Amazonia has its way with Fawcett and our senses, reflecting a profound component of human nature.

the mask of zorro
Sony Pictures

The Mask of Zorro (1998)

After he launched the Pierce Brosnan era of the James Bond franchise with 1995's GoldenEye, director Martin Campbell turned his attention to another iconic character in need of an update: the vigilante swordsman Zorro. With Antonio Banderas donning the mask (and the cool hat) to play the dashing hero and Catherine Zeta-Jones battling on his side as the striking love interest Elena, the movie blends old-fashioned swashbuckling spectacle with pulse-pounding blockbuster craft and a dash of romance. It's one of the most purely pleasurable action movies of the '90s.

master and commander
20th Century Fox

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)

Everyone loves a big sailing epic, especially if it's got Russell Crowe doing lots of grunting and staring off into the horizon. This adaptation of the first novel in Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey–Maturin series of sea adventures comes from Australian filmmaker Peter Weir (The Truman Show) and he rightfully emphasizes the human dimension of the story, never getting lost in the exploding cannons and the crashing waves. Don't believe us? Take it from Crowe himself.

minority report
20th Century Fox

Minority Report (2002)

On the surface, Minority Report is yet another sci-fi film from a master of the genre, but look closer and you'll find something else: a canny neo-noir about a detective on the run. This mind-bending whodunit finds the famous director and the even-more-famous star bringing out the best in each other—Tom Cruise underplays Spielberg's sentimental impulses, and Spielberg turns Cruise into a crew cut-rocking blunt object—and nearly every other element, from the costumes to the effects to the music, is perfectly executed. Well, except for the mawkish last few minutes, which force this movie into the "great movie, bad ending" category, a specialty of late-period Spielberg.

ninja 2 shadow of a tear
Millenium Films

Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear (2013)

Scott Adkins is a name you need to know. A trained martial artist and regular Jean-Claude Van Damme adversary, Adkins is the kind of charismatic fighter who would be huge if it were 1991, but delivers the goods in VOD genre movies and small blockbuster roles (see: The Bourne Ultimatum). Ninja 2 is his current masterpiece, a revenge movie where every scene is an excuse to fight. Fists, swords, barbed-wire flails—you name it, Ninja 2 has it. And unlike JCVD, Adkins makes the down moments not just bearable but believable. He's a talent who can act with punches and words.

snatch
Sony Pictures

Snatch (2000)

Guy Ritchie's 2000 crime-comedy employs a stacked ensemble cast: Benicio del Toro, Dennis Farina, Alan Ford, Jason Statham, Lennie James, a dog, and Brad Pitt—the last of who gets to play a lighter version of his Fight Club persona. Among a swirl of juggled narrative threads that includes bookies, boxers, gangsters, and jewelers, lies a priceless stone, the object of everybody's affection. It's one of the more fun movies on this list. Just beware: Thick accents abound.

without remorse
Amazon Studios

Without Remorse (2021)

Stefano Sollima, who co-created Amazon's unnerving drug trade drama ZeroZeroZero, knows how to squeeze tension out of a scene where a soldier moves through a dimly lit space with a gun. The broad strokes of the brutally efficient Tom Clancy adaptation Without Remorse—the killing off of a wife character with little screen time, the alliance shifting of potential allies and enemies within the deep state, the mowing down of attackers during a late-night raid gone wrong—were already tired clichés when the author was covering them with techno-babble and right-wing politics and rolling them into his bestsellers. The pleasure here, which might look like a strange word to use in describing such an often nasty movie, is in the way Sollima carefully stages each sequence and the way Michael B. Jordan, playing Clancy's rouge Navy SEAL John Kelly, leans into each cold-blooded act of retaliation. Working together, they make each punch land.

You were never really here
Amazon Studios

You Were Never Really Here (2018)

You've seen hitman movies, but you've never seen Lynne Ramsay's hitman movie. The Scottish director, who many first discovered with 2002's elliptical nightlife odyssey Morvern Callar, can take a John Wick-ian premise and invest it with new meaning by reframing it from an askew angle. This crime story, adapted from a novella by Bored to Death writer Jonathan Ames, is about an ex-soldier named Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) who finds himself tasked with recovering a kidnapped girl amidst a sinister political conspiracy involving human trafficking. What makes it so special? Between Phoenix's muted performance, Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood's string-drenched score, and Ramsay's expressive jump-cuts, every image crackles with energy, style, and possibility. It's a death-obsessed movie vibrating with life.

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