Superman: The Movie.
Photo: Warner Bros.
This list is regularly updated as movies rotate on and off of Prime Video. *New additions are indicated with an asterisk.
Action movies are typically among the most popular films available on DVD, VOD, and streaming services. People love to tune in, tune out, and escape while watching beautiful people doing impossible things. If you have an Amazon Prime subscription and are looking to do exactly that, its vast library contains some of the best action titles ever made, alongside its comedies, horror films, and family-friendly options. Amazon cycles films on and off of its service regularly, but these are the best action movies on Prime Video right now.
Runtime: 2h 17m
Director: Mel Gibson
Before he was shunned from Hollywood for being a garbage person and after he won Oscars for Braveheart, Mel Gibson directed this historical epic that has only grown in popularity in the years since its release. Casting unknown Native American and Indigenous actors, this period epic takes place in the year 1502 and tells of the journey of a hero named Jaguar Paw as his people are captured. A massive hit at the time, it’s only become a bigger one through cable airings in the years since.
Runtime: 1h 31m
Director: Michael Bay
When this action film was released, no one involved was anywhere near as big as they would become, including stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, and director Michael Bay. This flick is incredibly rewatchable, and the love for this series is still strong, as proven by the massive success of Bad Boys for Life, released just before the pandemic in 2020, and the current production of Bad Boys 4.
Runtime: 1h 33m
Director: Jonathan Mostow
If you’re looking for a good, underrated thriller, look no further than this thriller about a road trip gone horribly awry. Jonathan Mostow directs the always-great Kurt Russell as a man who has some words with a truck driver and learns that road rage is never the answer. A mix of modern fears with a noir sensibility, this a tight, effective little movie of the kind that doesn’t really make it to theaters all that often anymore.
Runtime: 2h 24m
Director: Martin Campbell
It’s hard to believe the most famous movie spy in history ever needed a comeback, but that’s really what happened when Daniel Craig stepped into 007’s shoes and it turned out to be one of the most acclaimed James Bond movies of all time. An origin story for the suave superspy, Casino Royale introduced new layers to the classic character, resulting in an action film that felt like it had real stakes. This is one of the best modern action movies, period, not just in the Bond franchise.
Runtime: 1h 46m
Director: Rob Cohen
Who could have known what would come of the story of an undercover LAPD cop who tries to bust a group of hijackers when this relatively quaint action flick was released over two decades ago? It’s hard to believe that anyone involved expected that millions would still be invested in this franchise. The first half of the proper franchise (the premiere through Fast Five) and the spin-off Hobbs & Shaw are currently on Prime Video. Marathon!
Runtime: 1h 50m
Director: Russell Mulcahy
There can be only one. Christopher Lambert stars as Connor MacLeod, who was born in the Scottish Highlands in the 16th century and killed there, only to discover that he was born immortal and is now a part of a massive secret war to leave only one highlander remaining. Yeah, it’s all really silly, but this movie became a massive cult hit, thanks in part to Lambert and Sean Connery’s fun performances.
Director: Edgar Wright
The center of Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy (with Shaun of the Dead and The World’s End) remains the best film in the bunch, and they’re all on Prime, by the way. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost play a pair of ordinary police officers who get sucked into a crazy case involving multiple murders in their small England town. Both a parody of action films and a legitimately great action film on its own terms, this is one of the best genre hybrids of the 2000s.
Runtime: 2h 6m
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
The director of Near Dark and Point Break became the first female Oscar winner for Best Director for a film that also won Best Picture and stands now as one of the best movies made to date about the American soldier experience in Iraq. Jeremy Renner stars as an explosives expert, the kind of guy who goes in the room that everyone else runs from, and someone who brings home the trauma of what he sees overseas. As precise as the profession it captures, this movie has not one bit of fat on it, and it’s just as thrilling now as when it was released.
Runtime: 1h 55m
Director: Steven Spielberg
Everyone is getting cautiously excited for James Mangold’s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, releasing later this year. It’s the perfect time to catch up with the saga of cinema’s most beloved treasure hunter in the beloved first four (well, at least three) films in this franchise. The perfect Raiders of the Lost Ark and its three sequels are all on Prime, waiting for your marathon.
Runtime: 2h 49m
Director: Christopher Nolan
The most underrated film from the director of The Dark Knight and Oppenheimer remains this 2014 sci-fi epic, a film that’s better if you approach it as an emotional journey instead of a physical one. Matthew McConaughey gives one of the best performances of his career as an astronaut searching for a new home for mankind, and realizing all that he left behind to do so. It’s a technical marvel with some of the most striking visuals and best sound design of Nolan’s career.
Runtime: 2h 8m
Director: J.A. Bayona
The Chris Pratt-led reboot of the Jurassic franchise has been wildly commercially successful but critically panned, for the most part. Join us on this limb: This is the best of the new trilogy. It’s largely because the director of Society of the Snow and The Impossible knows how to do spectacle, especially in the back half of this movie, which contains some of the best filmmaking in the entire series, Spielberg films included.
Runtime: 1h 43m
Director: Abel Ferrara
The amazing Abel Ferrara directed this crime epic that oozes with style. Three decades after its release, it’s still one of the most cited films of this kind of its era. One of the main reasons for that is the cast. Christopher Walken leads the way as the legendary drug lord Frank White, but the whole ensemble here is amazing, including Laurence Fishburne, David Caruso, Wesley Snipes, Steve Buscemi, and Giancarlo Esposito.
Runtime: 2h 51m
Director: Peter Jackson
The Oscar-winning franchise by Peter Jackson bounces around the streaming services with alarming regularity, now finding its way to Prime Video for an indeterminate amount of time. Watch the entire saga of Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gange, and the rest of the Fellowship while you can.
Runtime: 1h 50m
Director: Brian De Palma
Do you think Tom Cruise thought he’d still be playing Ethan Hunt over a quarter-century after the first adaptation of the hit TV show about the super spy? He’s basically created his own James Bond with the excellent Dead Reckoning – Part 1 coming out last summer. Go back to where it all began with a film that looks downright quaint now compared to the sequels but a film that still plays perfectly. Note: The first four films in the franchise are on Prime Video, including the great Ghost Protocol.
Runtime: 1h 54m
Director: Doug Liman
It not only launched Brangelina, but Mr. and Mrs. Smith also launched a TV series adaptation that’s dropping on Prime in February 2024. Catch up before then with the tale of a married couple who discover that they’ve each been keeping secret lives as hired assassins from one another. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are charming in this film that made a fortune at the box office on largely their star power alone.
Runtime: 1h 46m
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Right in the middle of the reemergence of Liam Neeson as an action star came this underrated genre flick about a former NYPD officer who is now a Federal Air Marshal on a doomed flight. When he receives a text that someone on board will be executed every 20 minutes, the clock starts on a film that’s undeniably goofy but still one of the better Neeson joints from this era.
Runtime: 2h 28m
Director: John Woo
One of the most influential action directors of all time helmed one of his most ambitious films in this period piece war epic set during the Battle of Red Cliffs in China almost two thousand years ago. In China, it was released in two parts that totaled over four hours, but American audiences got a single combined cut, which is the one currently on Prime Video.
Runtime: 2h 1m
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Denis Villeneuve has become one of the biggest directors in the world on the back of beloved films like Blade Runner 2049 and Dune, but Sicario was really his breakthrough, a thriller about an FBI agent (Emily Blunt) who gets drawn into the war between the U.S. government and the Mexican drug cartels. Benicio Del Toro gives one of the best performances of his career here.
Runtime: 1h 36m
Director: John Ford
It won’t play the same as modern action movies, but this could be the gateway to classic Westerns for someone in your family. Give them the gift of a flick that really changed the genre, in no small part because it really introduced the world to a young man named John Wayne. Based on a 1937 short story by Dudley Nichols, this is the tale of a group of strangers on a stagecoach as it travels through Apache territory. It has influenced too many action films since to count them all.
Runtime: 2h 23m
Director: Richard Donner
It’s been over forty years since the world believed a man could fly. As the 2010s-20s DC Universe comes to a grinding halt, go back to one of the blockbusters that really changed the form, a movie that proved that comic book culture could be mainstream. Christopher Reeve gives a timeless performance as the title character in an acting turn that blends heroism and everyman qualities in a way that whoever plays Kal-El next should model.
Runtime: 1h 51m
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Who wants a different kind of Christmas movie this season? Hoping to start an annual tradition, Prime grabbed the streaming rights to this action flick about a Santa Claus (David Harbour) who ends up having to save a family from a group of mercenaries who have taken them hostage. It’s ridiculous in mostly the right ways.
Runtime: 2h 15m
Director: Patty Jenkins
A major chapter of the DC Universe is about to end, which means it’s time to assess what worked best. This is undeniably near the top of the list. Take the recent DCU drop to Prime to go back and check out the phenomenal and best non-Batman film in the modern DC Universe. Gal Gadot stars in the title role and really anchors what’s an old-fashioned adventure film, one that owes as much to serial action flicks of the ‘40s and ‘50s as it does to movies with Batman and Superman.
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