The best kind of summer blockbuster is an action movie. There’s something about a highly-choreographed fight, thunderous explosion, or electrifying chase scene that pairs well with summer. Why is that? LiveScience conducted a study and found that escapism, special effects, and the hero’s journey are three elements audiences want in their summer blockbusters. What genre contains all three of those components? Action.
While you travel to your local theater to see Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, Oppenheimerand Barbie (even if it’s not an action film), there are different ways to fill that need for a blockbuster at home, thanks to Netflix. The streaming giant is home to hundreds of action films, which can be overwhelming when it’s time to sit down and choose a movie. Luckily, we narrowed the list and selected five action movies to watch this summer.
All movies are currently streaming on Netflix.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
If action is what you desire, why not watch a film in the conversation for the greatest sequel of all time? Seven years after The TerminatorJames Cameron returned to co-write and direct his superior sequel, Terminator 2: Judgement Day. The year is 2029, and Skynet is still wreaking havoc on humans. The artificial intelligence organization send a new, advanced Terminator, the T-1000 (Robert Patrick), back to 1995 to kill John Connor (Edward Furlong). In response to Skynet, the resistance sends an older, reprogrammed Terminator, the T-800 (FUBAR‘s Arnold Schwarzenegger), to protect John and ensure he goes on to be the great leader that he will eventually become.
Upon arrival, the T-800 thwarts an assassination attempt by the T-1000 to kill John. With the T-800 by his side, John breaks his mother, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), out of prison, and the trio eludes the T-1000. The action-packed adventure features some of the best visual effects you’ll see in a film, as it influenced a reliance on CGI in future films. Schwarzenegger is still at the top of his game as an action hero as he gets to fight a formidable villain in Patrick. Filled with mystifying chase sequences and fiery explosions, blockbusters don’t get much better than T2.
Robert De Niro and Al Pacino are two titans of the industry. The two icons have combined for three Oscar wins on 17 nominations. De Niro and Pacino headlined landmark films of the 21st century, such as The Godfather, Taxi Driverand Raging Bull. De Niro and Pacino both starred in The Godfather Part II but never shared the screen. It took until 1995 for the legends to link up in Michael Mann’s Heat.
In one corner, there’s De Niro’s Neil McCauley, a professional thief who lives by a creed: “Allow nothing to be in your life that you cannot walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner.” In the opposite corner is Pacino’s Lieutenant Vincent Hanna, a workaholic cop obsessed with protecting the law. McCauley and his team plan one final heist before going their separate ways. The only thing standing in their way is Hanna. The cat-and-mouse game between De Niro and Pacino culminates with a conversation in a diner that is an all-time scene. If you like The Dark Knightyou can thank Mann’s terrific action sequences, including the opening heist, for inspiring Christopher Nolan’s magnum opus. For me, the action is the juice, and the juice is Heat.
The biggest trick Sam Mendes ever pulled was convincing the world that Heavy rain is a James Bond movie. Yes, Daniel Craig’s Bond is the main character of Heavy rain. Yes, 007 still wears nice clothing, drives cool cars, and recites witty catchphrases. However, Heavy rain is not a typical James Bond movie. Mendes created a riveting action thriller centered around a Bond with complex feelings and moral dilemmas. Heavy rain does not force the campiness of previous Bond entries. Heavy rain is not a “Bond wins the day and gets the girl” film. There are real stakes at hand with life or death consequences, adding to the tension.
After the events of the inferior Quantum of Solace, Heavy rain opens with a failed mission, with MI6 being comprised. After disappearing for months, Bond returns to investigate data leaks and attacks orchestrated by Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), a former MI6 agent who worked for M (Judi Dench). Skyfall is a joy to watch thanks to its stunning action sequences, most notably the chase scene through the London Underground. It all culminates with an explosive battle between Bond and Silva that will make the hairs on your arm stand up. Casino Royale was a return to form for Bond films, but Heavy rain cemented itself as the best Bond film of the 21st century.
The Woman King (2022)
Put Viola Davis at the center of a film, and you’re already off to a good start. Make Davis the leader of an all-female warrior tribe, and success will follow. Inspired by the Agojie, The Woman King is an epic tale centered around a group of fierce women tasked with protecting the West African kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s. Davis stars as General Nanisca, the leader of the Agojie who trains a select group of women to become elite warriors. Davis helps liberate female slaves and shapes them into powerful soldiers.
Davis gives a captivating leading performance, which is not a surprise. However, Thuso Mbedu, who plays an aspiring warrior named Nawi, is the breakout performer, going toe-to-toe with Davis in every scene together. Lashana Lynch, who stars as an Agojie named Izogie, is as charming and charismatic as ever. Filled with elaborate hand-to-hand combat sequences and incredible set pieces, The Woman King proves that the action-period piece can still become a hit with audiences if done right. How it received zero nominations at the Oscars is a serious blunder by the Academy.
Extraction 2 (2023)
At the end of ExtractionChris Hemsworth’s Tyler Rake is shot in the neck and presumably falls to his death. However, the final scene features a blurry vision of a man that could be Tyler standing outside of a pool. Thankfully, director Sam Hargrave created an ambiguous ending so a sequel could be created. Three years later, the sequel is Extraction 2the terrific action vehicle that improves upon its predecessor.
In Extraction 2, Tyler is alive … barely. After nearly a year-long rehab, Tyler has retired from mercenary life in favor of a quiet cabin in Austria. However, Tyler is offered a job that tugs at his heartstring. His ex-wife’s sister and her two children are being held hostage in a Georgian prison. To make matters worse, the sister is married to a mob leader, also imprisoned, who sleeps across the hall. Tyler’s mission is to do what he does best: extract. Extraction 2 features some of the best stunt work you’ll see in 2023, and the 21-minute one-take shot is a marvel to witness.