With a seemingly endless parade of superhero movies dominating the movie market for the last decade, it is difficult to notice when something truly innovative comes along. This dilemma is compounded when it comes to action movies since the majority of both Marvel and DC films fall into this category.
However, if audiences look close enough, beyond the sometimes smothering of superhero over-saturation, they can find diamonds in the rough. From cybernetic symbiosis and Nazi zombies to suburban dads and Viking vengeance, many a great action movie has slipped between the cracks, and fans of the genre end up missing out on some truly great films.
10 Terminator: Dark Fate
Terminator: Dark Fate is the sixth installment in the franchise and, for the most part, ignores the established plots and storylines of all the movies preceding it up to Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Set twenty-five years after the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the movie follows a young woman named Dani, an integral part of humanity's fight against the machines in the future, the target of a deadly new iteration of Terminators called a Rev-9.
There is no denying that the Terminator franchise peaked in 1991 with the release of Terminator 2: Judgment Day and has been on a steady decline ever since. Terminator: Dark Fate is the weakest in the franchise by all accounts, but given this movie is a direct sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day, fans should give this one another shot for the stylized action scenes and nonstop mechanized madness that the film delivers from start to finish.
9 Blade II
Blade II sees the return of the human-vampire hybrid Blade, played by Wesley Snipes, and his efforts to protect humanity from vampiric tyranny as the shadowed city streets are being swallowed by a new breed of monster. This new breed of vampires, dubbed Reapers, can feed on humans and vampires alike and Blade must join forces with his mortal enemies to combat a greater threat to them all.
Blade II often thought of as the forgotten middle child of the franchise. It is not remembered as fondly as Blade or as disdainfully as Blade: Trinity. Audiences who glossed over movie should go back and try again because the bombastic choreography and hard-hitting, stylish fight scenes are a step above what Blade and most action other films delivered and deserve more praise. Plus, watching Blade's effortless calm yet sassy demeanor as he works with enforcers trained to kill him is nothing but fun.
Overlord takes place on the night before the historical D-Day during World War II and follows a squad of American soldiers out to disable enemy communications. Things take a turn for the worst when the squad discovers nightmarish experiments going on right under their noses perpetrated by the Nazis that raise the stakes of their mission to new heights.
Overlord takes the already tired subgenre of action-horror and adds an underappreciated spin not only to that genre but also to historical fiction. The movie blends multiple genres together seamlessly but never strays far from its action flick roots. Overlord has never been talked about enough by fans as much as it deserves to be. Audiences who let this one go over their heads need to give it a watch because if more action films were this courageous with character, storytelling, and satisfying violence, there would be less repetition in the genre.
From Blumhouse, starring Logan Marshall-Green as the protagonist Grey Trace, Upgrade tells the story of a man whose life is changed when a mugging leaves him paralyzed and his wife dead. Grey's mind and body are integrated with a cutting-edge AI chip called STEM that allows Grey to move and perform amazing feats of strength and dexterity to hunt down his wife's killers.
Upgrade managed to hit the mark in ways that Venom, released in the same year, missed. Both films protagonists deal with a foreign entity coexisting in their body, but Upgrade carries itself with a measure grace and sincerity. Upgrade knows exactly what it is and does not shy away from pushing the envelope. The engaging fight scenes and expertly crafted comedic tidbits are a sight to behold for those who have not already.
Starring Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad alumnus Bob Odenkirk, Nobody follows the mild-mannered and grossly repetitive life of husband and father Hutch Mansell. Hutch's life is turned on its head when a home invasion sets him on a violent path to reclaim what was lost and his hidden past begins to bubble to the surface.
Despite a positive reception fans who did see it, Nobody could not escape from underneath the unjust nomenclature of a John Wick rip-off. A lot of the same talent behind John Wick is present here so that is not a bad thing. Action thrillers are a dime a dozen, but this movie keeps those same visceral and engaging fight scenes from the John Wick franchise, but with an innovative tone that fans who skipped this one are missing out on.
5 Hardcore Henry
The debut film of writer and director IIya Naishuller comes the 2015 action sleeper hit, Hardcore Henry. The movie follows a cybernetically enhanced man that goes by the name of Henry who is woken up in an experimental facility before all hell breaks loose, and he is forced to fight his way through hordes of mercenaries.
Though it was met with mixed reviews in the United States, Hardcore Henry was a rousing success overseas. The movie's mind-boggling first-person perspective transforms the movie into an immersive simulator of gratuitous violence and nonstop entertainment until the credits roll. Audiences that are tired of the same cut-and-paste action movies who let this one fly under their radars needs to go back and experience this cornucopia of edge-of-your-seat excitement.
4 The Northman
From visionary director Robert Eggers, the mind behind The Witch and The Lighthouse, comes a Viking tale like no other, The Northman. Following the tale of Amleth, portrayed by Alexander Skarsgard, son of King Aurvandill War-Raven, out to avenge his father's murder at the hands of his traitorous uncle. The movie is heavily influenced not only by Norse mythology but also by the culture and lifestyle of the prominent people during the period it takes place.
The movie is heavily influenced by Norse mythology, culture and lifestyle and is easily the most accurate depiction of the Viking era to ever come to the silver screen. Robert Eggers' films can be a hard pill to swallow, but fans of classic revenge stories will love the uniquely fantastical spin mixed with the skull-shattering action that this movie offers and will leave them with a lasting impression.
Audiences remember Judge Dredd from 1995 starring Sylvester Stallone, but too few fans recall the 2012 remake Dredd starring Karl Urban. Based on the 2000 AD comic book, the titular character of Dredd, a specialized peacekeeper known as a Judge whose duty is to uphold the law by any means necessary. Dredd finds himself locked inside gang territory with nothing but his wits, resolve and a rookie to fight back against the onslaught of criminals.
Judge Dredd may have inadvertedly smothererd this films chance at appropriate appreciation. Dredd is a bottle film with a coat of paint that screams high-octane action. The dark corners and grime-stricken walls of the gang's territory combine beautifully with the perfectly crafted grit and expertly choreographed, realistic gunplay that will have audiences on their edge of their seats
2 The Boondock Saints
Fraternal twin brothers Connor and Murphy MacManus, portrayed by Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus respectively, are the stars of The Boondock Saints. After the pair are forced to kill two members of the Russian mafia in self-defense, they realize their lives are meant for a higher calling and set out on a path of vigilante justice.
Real fans of action thrillers will have already seen this movie, but general audiences have surely missed out. This gem of a movie couples realistic gunplay with a fashionable tongue-in-cheek style of production that allows this movie to stand out among a crowd of cookie-cutter action flicks. The Boondock Saints takes what The Punisher movies have tried to do and finally gets it right with hard-hitting vigilantism that fans cannot afford to miss out on.
1 The Night Comes for Us
The Night Comes for Us is an Indonesian martial art, action-thriller starring Joe Taslim as Ito, a member of the Six Seas Triad, with a young girl, while an old friend, Arian, played by Iko Uwais, famous for his leading role in The Raid: Redemption, is hot on his tail to steal the girl back. A whole host of criminals stands between Ito on his path to get the young girl, Reina, to safety, but he will not stop even if it means losing his life.
A straight-to-Netflix release can negatively color peoples perception of a movie before they see it. However, The Night Comes for Us is not a movie for audiences to turn their noses up at. To call the movie a bloody thrill ride from start to finish is an understatement. The Night Comes for Us is an action, martial arts movie like no other with set pieces that rival the best of movies like John Wick and The Matrix.