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Best Netflix action movies in September 2021

best netflix action movies: Charlize Theron in The Old Guard, Winston Duke in Spenser Confidential, and Karen Gillan in Gunpowder Milkshake
(Image credit: Aimee Spinks/Netflix; Daniel McFadden; Reiner Bajo/StudioCanal)

Those looking for a big night with the best Netflix action movies have come to the right place. From comedy to sci-fi and even more heartwarming drama, Netflix’s selection of action movies is so vast that there’s something for everyone, even if you don’t usually watch them very often.

From war dramas like Outlaw King to superhero adventures like Project Power and comedies like Spenser Confidential, you won’t be leaving your couch for a long time to come as you scroll through Netflix’s catalog of action movies. You'll likely discover a few new favorites of your own, too, as Netflix has enough great films to ensure its spot on our list of the best streaming services.

The best Netflix action movies are:

The Old Guard

best Netflix action movies: The Old Guard

(Image credit: Netflix)

What happens when a team of self-healing mercenaries who have lived for hundreds of years are set up to be killed off? Well, it doesn't go well, that's for starters. Charlize Theron stars as Andromache, aka "Andy," the leader of this team that's soon out for revenge. This graphic novel adaptation was a hit for Netflix and we're already wondering when we get to see The Old Guard 2. — Henry T. Casey

Rotten Tomatoes score: 81%
Cast: Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
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Gunpowder Milkshake

best Netflix action movies: Gunpowder Milkshake

(Image credit: StudioCanal)

One of the latest in the ever-growing genre of "the secret world of spies" movies (see: John Wick), Gunpowder Milkshake gives Karen Gillan the lead role for a story all about family. Expertly shot, with a sense of humor, the film focuses on Sam, who's trying to save an 8-year-old girl on the wrong end of a hit. Her an estranged relationship with her mother has something to do with her need to save the child, and (of course) Sam reunites with her mother Scarlet, who also happens to be a lethal force. — Henry T. Casey

Rotten Tomatoes score: 61%
Cast: Karen Gillan, Joanna Bobin, Freya Allan and Lena Headey
Director: Navot Papushado
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best Netflix action movies: extraction

(Image credit: Netflix)

You can always rely on Chris Hemsworth to bring the goods in movies like this, and Extraction doesn't disappoint. Based on the graphic novel Ciudad, Extraction is all about a black ops mercenary hired to rescue a drug lord's kidnapped son in the Bangladeshi city of Dhaka. While there's plenty of gratuitous violence here and some gaping plot holes, the 99 million people who watched the movie in its first four weeks on Netflix can't be wrong... right? — Jennifer Still

Rotten Tomatoes score: 67%
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, David Harbour, Golshifteh Farahani, Randeep Hooda, Sam Hargrave
Director: Sam Hargrave
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Sweet Girl

The newest entry on the list, Sweet Girl is basically a vehicle for Jason Mamoa to be hot, and he does a pretty good job of it here. The movie definitely has heart - the crux of the action happens because a woman named Amanda (Adria Arjona) dies of a rare form of cancer after a greedy CEO pulls a potentially life-saving drug off the market. That's when Amanda's husband Ray (Mamoa) decides to get revenge. Is it Oscar-worthy? Obviously not. Is it still packed full engaging of action? Definitely. — Jennifer Still

Rotten Tomatoes score: 21%
Cast: Jason Momoa, Isabela Merced, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Raza Jaffrey
Director: Brian Andrew Mendoza
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The Last Mercenary

If you like your action with a side of humor, you'll love The Mercenary, not least of which because it stars perhaps one of the most legendary action stars of all time: Jean Claude Van Damme. The plot is straightforward enough - a former secret service agent is forced to go back to France when the son he's been out of touch with for years is falsely accused by the French government of drugs and arms trafficking. Thankfully, Richard Brumère/The Mist (Van Damme) is there to save the day. — Jennifer Still

Rotten Tomatoes score: 57%
Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Assa Sylla, Samir Decazza, Valerie Kaprisky, Nassim Si Ahmed
Director: David Charhon
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best netflix action movies: Beckett

(Image credit: Yannis Drakoulidis)

If one of your biggest fears is being wrongly accused of a crime you didn't commit while traveling through a foreign country, Beckett will likely fill you with anxiety. That's pretty much exactly what happens here - Beckett (John David Washington) is an American visiting Athens, Greece, but he and his girlfriend leave when political unrest begins to spread. However, when a terrible accident occurs, Beckett finds himself the target of a manhunt and has to try and dodge the authorities chasing him and make it to the U.S. Embassy to clear his name. This one is definitely a wild ride, even if the plot is a little silly. — Jennifer Still

Rotten Tomatoes score: 48%
Cast: John David Washington, Alicia Vikander, Boyd Holbrook, Vicky Krieps
Director: Ferdinando Cito Filomarino
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The Decline

best netflix action movies: The Decline

(Image credit: Bertrand Calmeau)

Originally filmed entirely in French, The Decline was later dubbed by the original cast in English for your viewing pleasure. The movie focuses on a survivalist training group that becomes extremely tense after one of the attendees accidentally dies. To say that things get a little dicey between the remaining survivalists is putting things lightly, but as one of the best action movies of 2020, it's deserving of a watch. — Jennifer Still

Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
Cast: Marie-Evelyne Lessard, Real Bosse, Guillaume Laurin, Marilyn Catonguay
Director: Patrice Laliberté
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Rim of the World 

best netflix action movies: Rim of the World

(Image credit: Aaron Epstein)

Screenwriter Zack Stentz wanted to do a modern take on the classic kids' action movies of the 1980s, which is exactly what he accomplished with Rim of the World. Perfect for younger viewers, it incorporates science fiction with plenty of adventure between a group of misfits at summer camp. They're the best of friends... and then the aliens invade Earth. Luckily, they know how to stop the invasion, but it'll take a lot of bravery and a little luck to get there. — Jennifer Still

Rotten Tomatoes score: 27%
Cast: Annabeth Gish, Alessio Scalzotto Miya Cech, Jack Gore, Benjamin Flores Jr. 
Director: McG
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best netflix action movies: Extinction

(Image credit: Aleksandar Letic/Netflix)

More science fiction, only this time for the adults. An engineer named Peter (Michael Peña) begins having the same nightmare night after night in which all of his loved ones keep being violently attacked by aliens. These dreams take over his waking life and affect all of his relationships, especially the one with his wife. Sadly, Peter wasn't just dreaming - the aliens are really there and the role Peter will play in defending the earth is more complex than anyone would have expected. — Jennifer Still

Rotten Tomatoes score: 32%
Cast: Lizzy Caplan, Michael Peña, Amelia Crouch, Erica Tremblay
Director: Ben Young
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Sand Castle

While Sand Castle is more technically a war drama, the very act of battle lends a sense of unavoidable action, and that's the case here. Based on the real-life experience of screenwriter Chris Roessner, the movie follows Matt Ocre, a US Army soldier who's assigned to restore water to a small village in Iraq. Of course, things don't go quite so smoothly in the middle of a warzone. — Jennifer Still

Rotten Tomatoes score: 47%
Cast: Henry Cavill, Nicholas Hoult, Logan Marshall-Green, Neil Brown Jr. 
Director: Fernando Coimbra
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Outlaw King

best netflix action movies: Outlaw King

(Image credit: Netflix)

History buffs will love this movie about 14th century Scottish King Robert the Bruce. He started a war against the English army in rebellion against Edward I's rule over Scotland and as you can imagine, things get pretty grizzly. Chris Pine plays the title character and while Outlaw King does play a bit fast and loose with the facts, it's high on adrenaline which makes it worthwhile. — Jennifer Still

Rotten Tomatoes score: 62%
Cast: Chris Pine, Florence Pugh, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Billy Howle
Director: David Mackenzie
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best netflix action movies: Okja

(Image credit: Jae Hyuk Lee/Netflix)

For fans of artsy foreign films, Okja is definitely a must-see. The 2017 Korean movie directed by Bong Joon-ho (who you'll likely know from his work on Parasite) is all about a little girl who raises a genetically motified "super pig" named Okja that's taken away from her to the US. However, she's not about to let her beloved pet go easily, and she embarks on an adventurous rescue mission to save the animal's life. The cast here is spectacular, especially young Ahn Seo-hyun and Tilda Swinton, and it will stay with you long after the credits roll. — Jennifer Still

Rotten Tomatoes score: 86%
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Jake Gyllenhaal, Lily Collins, Steven Yeun
Director: Bong Joon-ho
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Beasts of No Nation

Best netflix action movies: Beasts of No Nation

(Image credit: Netflix)

The critically-acclaimed 2015 war drama isn't a typical action movie, but that doesn't mean it doesn't fit the category. A child soldier who participates in his country's horrifying civil war sees and experiences things that no person, let alone any child, ever should. There's a lot of violence and destruction here, but also some pretty thought-provoking messages that give viewers something to think about. — Jennifer Still

Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%
Cast: Abraham Attah, Idris Elba, Ama K. Aberese, Emmanuel Nii Adom Quaye
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
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How It Ends

best netflix action movies: How It Ends

(Image credit: Netflix)

Many of the best action movies are set during an apocalypse, and that's where we're at in How It ends. The world may be ending, but Will (Theo James) is desperate to get home to his pregnant wife Sam (Kat Graham). There's just one issue: she's thousands of miles away. To get back to her, he'll have to navigate his way through fires, violent shoot-outs, and life-threatening injuries. If you're into doomsday dramas, this is a good one to add to your list. — Jennifer Still

Rotten Tomatoes score: 66%
Cast: Theo James, Forest Whitaker, Grace Dove, Nicole Ari Parker, Kat Graham, and Mark O'Brien.
Director: David M. Rosenthal
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Spenser Confidential

best netflix action movies: Spenser Confidential

(Image credit: Daniel McFadden)

Another action comedy film, Spenser Confidential sees Mark Wahlberg as a disgraced Boston police detective who immerses himself in the criminal underworld in order to solve a murder conspiracy. Of course, it seems that wherever Spenser goes, trouble follows, and that leads to him getting into all kinds of dangerous situations, some more hilarious than others. While not an outright comedy, there are enough moments of levity to make the sillier plot decisions a little more enjoyable to watch. — Jennifer Still

Rotten Tomatoes score: 37%
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Winston Duke, Alan Arkin, Marc Maron
Director: Peter Berg
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Lost Bullet

best netflix action movies: Lost Bullet

(Image credit: Mickael Mongin/Netflix)

The French are shockingly good at action movies, and Lost Bullet is definitely one of the best. The story follows a mechanic named Lino who's bribed by dirty cops into doing their bidding in order to avoid going to jail. If he doesn't want to be stuck with a murder charge, he'll have to track down one particular car that contains a single bullet that would prove his innocence. If you're into fast cars and reckless driving, you'll love Lost Bullet. — Jennifer Still

Rotten Tomatoes score: 72%
Cast: Alban Lenoir, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Ramzy Bedia, Stéfi Celma, Sébastien Lalanne
Director: Guillaume Pierret
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The Do-Over

best netflix action movies: The Do-Over

(Image credit: Tony Rivetti Jr., SMPSP/ Netflix)

By looking at the cast list, you can probably immediately tell that all the action here is splashed with a pretty large dose of comedy, and thank goodness for that. The premise is hilarious enough on its own: Charlie (David Spade) and Max (Adam Sandler) decide to fake their deaths to start new lives. Sadly, the men whose identities they steal were up to no good in their past lives, which gets Charlie and Max into not a small amount of trouble. There's definitely plenty of excitement here, but you'll be laughing all the way through. This is certainly the least critically-successful film on this list, but it's got its own charm about itself — and who watches action movies because of what the critics say, anyways? — Jennifer Still

Rotten Tomatoes score: 9%
Cast: Adam Sandler, David Spade, Kathryn Hahn, Paula Patton
Director: Steven Brill
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Project Power

best netflix action movies: project power

(Image credit: Skip Bolen/Netflix)

Project Power centers on a near-future New Orleans in which some mysterious company offers a group of drug dealers a free pill that gives its taker any number of superpowers for five minutes. To find out who's behind the pill, a cop and a former soldier team up and hit the streets, and what they find isn't what anyone expects. — Jennifer Still

Rotten Tomatoes score: 61%
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dominique Fishback, Machine Gun Kelly
Director: Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost
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Hold the Dark

best netflix action movies: Hold the Dark

(Image credit: Netflix/David Bukach)

After three kids are suspected to have been killed by wolves, an animal expert named Russell (Jeffrey Wright) heads out to a remote Alaskan village to find out what happened. However, what he discovers is much more sinister than the community would ever have believed. There’s something refreshingly different about Hold the Dark, and action here is more understated but no less satisfying for it. — Jennifer Still

Rotten Tomatoes score: 70%
Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Jeffrey Wright, James Badge Dale, Riley Keough
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
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best netflix action movies: Bright

(Image credit: Matt Kennedy)

This 2017 fantasy action movie starring Will Smith didn't do very well at the box office, but it still makes for an entertaining watch. Bright focuses on an alternate reality where humans and mythical creatures live together in harmony of sorts. Smith plays an LAPD officer who works with an orc to confront corruption in the force and racism. THey also protect an elf girl and her magic wand. Before I put you off any further, I'll just say this: watch it. — Jennifer Still

Rotten Tomatoes score: 27%
Cast: Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Lucy Fry, Noomi Rapace, Edgar Ramirez
Director: David Ayer

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Murder Mystery

best netflix action movies: Murder Mystery

(Image credit: Scott Yamano / Netflix)

An option for those who like their humor with a splash of action, Murder Mystery is perhaps surprisingly engaging given its somewhat textbook storyline. A cop and his wife leave their home in New York to embark on a European vacation in an effort to save their marriage but instead they end up being framed for the murder of an old billionaire. It's hard to take this one too seriously, but that's part of what makes it so much fun to watch. — Jennifer Still

Rotten Tomatoes score: 44%
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Luke Evans, Adam Sandler, Gemma Arterton
Director: Kyle Newacheck
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Jennifer is a writer and editor from Brooklyn covering all things entertainment, lifestyle, and tech. She has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, Glamour, Bon Appetit, Decider, and many more and spends her days writing about all the shows, movies, and music she's obsessed with. She's always fuelled by iced coffee and hates slow walkers.