The Best Action Movies on Amazon Prime Right Now

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

eva green and daniel crag in casino roayle
Eva Green and Daniel Craig in 'Casino Royale' | MGM
Eva Green and Daniel Craig in 'Casino Royale' | MGM

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)

ben affleck in armageddon
Bunea Vista Pictures

Armageddon (1998)

For those of us who weren't born early enough for the Space Race, there's Armageddon. While it might seem like an outlier in the Criterion Collection, Michael Bay's sci-fi spectacle is lean, expertly crafted, and rowdy, with scenes of meteoric destruction that channel Michelangelo. The final ludicrous mission to blow up the plummeting space rock is the closest we'll come to a Bay-directed opera. But it's the cast—Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Owen Wilson, Steve Buscemi, and so many more—that makes Armageddon a ride. Bay's drill-team heroes add red and white to their blue collars for a fist-pumping display of patriotism, no international enemy required.
Watch it now on Amazon

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Paul Newman and Robert Redford were the original Clooney and Pitt, 1969's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid the original bandit heist movie. There's a reason you'll see this playing during every outdoor summer screening season: Based on a pair of real-life outlaws, this Oscar-winning, canonical film has come to define '60s cinema, despite its initial lukewarm critical reception. Watch it to check a box, enjoy it because you can.
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Casino Royale (2006)

Dozens of James Bond movies later, and Casino Royale still stands the test of time as the best of the franchise. Filling the shoes of the classic MI6 agent for the first time, Daniel Craig pulled off the impossible by defining the role for a new generation and giving us the 007 from Ian Fleming's early novels, a blunt instrument filled with morose purpose and self-doubt. Still, director Martin Campbell managers to offer a blockbuster that's a masterclass in geometric, dramatic, constructive action filmmaking in 007's journey down to Madagascar to face off with a favorite Bond villain, Mads Mikkelson's Le Chiffre, in a high-stakes poker game. This is a debut Bond actors will be trying to measure up to for decades. (If you're in for even more Bond, you're in luck because Casino Royale isn’t the only Bond feature available on Amazon Prime. Quantum of Solace and the Pierce Brosnan era Bond titles are available, too.)
Watch it now on Amazon

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.
Watch it now on Amazon

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.
Watch it now on Amazon

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.
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GoldenEye (1995)

After a six-year hiatus, the James Bond series returned for a new generation—one whose '90s nostalgia frequently conflates this film with the immensely popular N64 video game of the same name. A shame, because Pierce Brosnan and director Martin Campbell delivered a largely outstanding Bond adventure, with a classic villain in former agent 006 (Sean Bean) and an iconic henchwoman in Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen). Judi Dench's no-nonsense, postmodern take on M was so indelible that a franchise reboot 11 years later couldn't resist carrying her over. 
Watch it now on Amazon

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.
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In Bruges (2008)

Colin Farrell is a seriously funny actor. In playwright Martin McDonagh's sly directorial debut, Farrell plays Ray, an Irish hitman wracked with guilt over the accidental killing of a young boy. Instead of using his rugged good looks to play yet another "badass" assassin character, Farrell goes full neurotic, twitching his eyes and fidgeting like a child struggling to stay still in class. It's a hilarious, manic performance that makes the film's comic moments pop, and allows its somber, reflective moments to sneak up on you like a stranger approaching in an dark alley. You won't know what hit you.
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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.
Watch it now on Amazon

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.
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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.
Watch it now on Amazon

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.
Watch it now on Amazon

Taken (2009)

Taken was supposed to be forgettable. Half a year went by between its French and US release because executives couldn't decide if director Pierre Morel and producer Luc Besson's geri-action movie even deserved a theatrical release. Eventually, it landed on our shores -- and with high impact. Liam Neeson's grizzled charisma, peerless karate-chopping skills, and one of the most iconic mission statements in recent memory ("I have a very particular set of skills...") turned the daddy-rescue pic into an instant cult classic, providing a career rebirth for the longtime character actor and legions of lesser knockoffs (many starring Neeson himself).
Watch it now on Amazon

13 Assassins (2010)

Takashi Miike's remake of Eiichi Kudo's 1963 film of the same name stays faithful to the timeless story: A veteran samurai, Shinzaemon (Kōji Yakusho), is secretly hired to assassinate the Shogun's lunatic half-brother Lord Naritsugu (Goro Inagaki) before he can attain a higher office. In classic commando-mission fashion, Shinzaemon and his recruited team plan their strategy, build their tools, train, and execute. Miike's payoff is sensational, longer and bloodier than in the original, which still makes for crowd-pleasing entertainment.
Watch it now on Amazon

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.
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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.
Watch it now on Amazon

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