The best action movies on Prime Video New Zealand

How do you define “action” when it comes to movies? Does it have to include a car chase? A shoot out? Explosions? A protagonist hellbent on revenge? Adam Fresco has found all of the above on Prime Video.

See also
* Best new movies & series on Prime Video
* All new streaming movies & series

21 Jump Street (2012)

Watch on Prime Video

Dynamic duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller make the jump from animation to land a hilarious, action-packed buddy-cop comedy. Rebooting the old TV show, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill make for the oddest of odd couples, Ice Cube embodies the grumpy police captain cliché, and there’s even a spot-the-Johnny-Depp cameo. Full of whip-smart comic cracks and action a-plenty, it’s big and silly but still enormous fun.

Crank (2006)

Watch on Prime Video

Directors Neveldine and Taylor kickstarted their careers with this heart-poundingly bonkers mid-budget masterpiece, in which Jason Statham’s LA hitman, Chev Chelios, must keep his adrenaline flowing to beat the poison in his veins. Ridiculous, rude, and relentless, Crank is visually stunning, thanks to the directors shooting whilst racing around on rollerblades and motorcycles, lending the stunning action set-pieces a vitality and verve that keep the crazy story thundering forward.

Constantine (2005)

Watch on Prime Video

Once you get over the fact that this is not Alan Moore’s blonde, English John Constantine from the original comic books, Francis Lawrence’s version has lots to offer. Keanu Reeves has a supernatural ball as the world-weary exorcist, while Tilda Swinton and Peter Stormare chew scenery. Angels, demons, and a trip to Hell, this is a wild, gothic ride, fusing stand-out visuals, action, horror, and superhero tropes.

Das Boot (1981)

Watch on Prime Video

A superlative example of the submarine sub-genre of war movies, it’s all here—the suffocating claustrophobia, the radar pings, the expressions of growing dread on the actors’ faces as the depth-charges drop. Wolfgang Peterson’s gripping tale of German submariners launched his Hollywood career (leading to the knockout action of Air Force One) and brought Jürgen Prochnow instant fame as a U-Boat commander facing insurmountable odds, in a brilliant, unrelentingly tense tale of underwater combat.

Daybreakers (2009)

Watch on Prime Video

Vampires rule (literally) in this Australian-made action-horror hybrid from the Spierig brothers. Fans of the original Blade and Hellboy will love this adventure, clearly influenced by the slick visual style of The Matrix. Set in a future where humans are running out, and the hunt is on for synthetic blood, Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe lead the resistance against corporate vampires, setting the scene for some high stakes (sorry) action.

Django Unchained (2012)

Watch on Prime Video

A western packed with action worthy of Hollywood and Spaghetti Western greats, from Sam Peckinpah to Sergio Leone. Tarantino’s crack at the genre stars Jamie Foxx, accompanied by Christoph Waltz as his mentor and Leonardo DiCaprio having a ball as the bad guy. With plenty of nods to Sergio Corbucci’s original (including a cameo by Franco Nero), the tension builds to an action-packed, bloody climax.

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Watch on Prime Video

Doug Liman’s sci-fi Groundhog Day takes the Japanese tale All You Need Is Kill and turns it into a brilliantly addictive rollercoaster-ride. Tom Cruise stars as a military public relations officer (and first-class cowardly a-hole), plunged into humanity’s fight against aliens. With a sparkling script by Cruise’s Mission: Impossible writer/director Christopher McQuarrie, and Emily Blunt as a full-metal marine, it’s a joy to watch Cruise live/die/repeat.

The Gentlemen (2019)

Watch on Prime Video

Guy Ritchie returns to his Lock, Stock and Snatch UK gangster roots with a rip-roaring comedic tale of Matthew McConaughey’s cannabis kingpin, caught up in a comedic, twisted, and fast-moving plot involving gangsters, aristocrats, lowlifes, con artists, and tabloid journalists. Hugh Grant does a wicked Cockney accent, Jeremy Strong plays it camp, Charlie Hunnam gets his best role yet, and Colin Farrell is hilarious as the coolest boxing coach since Mickey trained Rocky.

Hot Fuzz (2007)

Watch on Prime Video

Edgar Wright’s riotous adventure teams Simon Pegg’s wannabe Dirty Harry with Nick Frost’s wanna-cup-of-tea-and-a-cake lazy English bobby. There’s a funny clash of values as Pegg is uprooted from London to rural England. But it’s the nitro-charged direction and editing that make this British Bad Boys counterpart gloriously action-packed fun.

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Watch on Prime Video

Quentin Tarantino’s war epic balances all-out action with tension, wicked humour, and historical revisionism. Brad Pitt chews through the celluloid as Aldo Raine, leader of the “Basterds.” The opening scene, introducing Christoph Waltz as Nazi Hans Landa, remains one of the most terrifyingly white knuckle moments since Chief Brody nervously watched over the crowded beach in Jaws.

John Wick (2014)

Watch on Prime Video

Keanu Reeves’ former stunt double for The Matrix movies, Chad Stahelski, turned director for this stunning action classic. Who the hell would be dumb enough to kill the dog John Wick’s dying wife gave him? That’s like borrowing Liam Neeson’s lawnmower and not returning it. Anyway, cue a bone-crunchingly fun cinematic delight that spawned an entire universe of sequels, rip-offs, and wannabes.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003)

Watch on Prime Video

Okay, so it was released as three movies, but together The Fellowship of The Rings, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King rival the original Star Wars as the greatest action-packed adventure trilogy of all time. Aotearoa’s Peter Jackson took the world by storm with a stunning cast, great direction, and technical virtuosity. Jackson’s seemingly impossible mission to bring Tolkein’s classic fantasy saga to the screen is a Kiwi-made, Middle Earth marvel.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Watch on Prime Video

Wow! George Miller’s action masterpiece blows me away every time I watch it. Tom Hardy burns as Max, Charlize Theron smoulders as Furiosa, and Hugh Keays-Byrne napalms the screen as Immortan Joe. The non-stop chase and fight never falls below top gear, and the array of mad, bad vehicular mayhem is jaw-dropping. From the amazing stunts to the stunning colours, vibrant cinematography, and ear-drumming sound, it’s Action with a capital “A”.

The Matrix (1999)

Watch on Prime Video

The Matrix explodes onto the screen, set in a brilliantly realised cyberpunk dystopia heavily influenced by anime including Ghost In The Shell and Hong Kong action flicks. The wire-fu fight choreography, “bullet time,” and sleek S&M costumes make this a top-notch rewatch. Featuring a great cast in Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss and Hugo Weaving, it remains the best in the franchise, and one of the best science fiction films ever made.

Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Watch on Prime Video

Tom’s third impossible mission is by far my favourite. Directed by J.J. Abrams, the secret sauce is the villain, chillingly portrayed by Philip Seymour Hoffman (one of the best bad guys since Goldfinger). The action never lets up and Abrams helms his directorial movie debut with remarkable assurance. It’s a rollicking adventure, full of twists, turns, teamwork, masks, and impossible missions.

The Other Guys (2010)

Watch on Prime Video

When cool cop duo Samuel L. Jackson and The Rock take a nosedive off a skyscraper in the first act, mismatched cops Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are the other guys who must stop squabbling and step up. Backed by a stellar cast, including Michael Keaton and Eva Mendes, Adam McKay’s film is crammed with crass comedy, crazy chases, and outlandish action.

Robocop (1987)

Watch on Prime Video

Paul Verhoeven’s fascist satire is a brilliant, brutal, bloody film with brains. Paul Weller is a Detroit cop resurrected inside a shiny chrome exoskeleton created by Omni Consumer Products in a bid to corner the market on inner-city crime fighting. Witty, gritty and violent, but always with its tongue firmly in its cheek, Robocop rewards repeated viewings with an amazing 1980s cast, a sizzler of a score, and an overdose of over-the-top action.

Rolling Thunder (1977)

Watch on Prime Video

Co-written by Taxi Driver scribe Paul Schrader, John Flynn’s Rolling Thunder is a dynamite tale of revenge. William Devane plays the Vietnam vet out to avenge his murdered family, aided by BFF Tommy Lee Jones. Like watching a pot boil over, the tension and air of menace build to explosive violence. No wonder it’s one of Tarantino’s favourite films. Now a stone cold classic, it’s a savage 70s story up there with Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry and Charles Bronson’s Death Wish.

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Watch on Prime Video

Spielberg’s WWII epic offers one of the most visceral recreations of combat in its stunning opening scene, in which Tom Hanks’ Captain Miller and the US Army land on Omaha Beach. Whilst it never tops that opener, it has many eye-widening moments, stunning set-pieces, and an emotional punch that makes it one of the most successful war movies ever made.

Scarface (1983)

Watch on Prime Video

Written by Oliver Stone, Brian De Palma’s gangster epic is an operatic behemoth. Al Pacino erupts as the volcanic Tony Montana, the Cuban refugee rising to become Miami’s drug kingpin. Bravura camera moves and Giorgio Moroder’s pulsating score match Pacino’s explosive portrayal, the film hurtling from one memorable scene to the next. Audacious, over the top, and now part of pop (and hip-hop) culture, press play and “say hello to my little friend.”

Sin City (2005)

Watch on Prime Video

Robert Rodriguez takes Frank Miller’s graphic novel to the screen, replicating the comic in colour, tone, and style. This gritty blood-splashed neo-noir is a captivating adventure set in a nightmarish hellscape. Complete with a scene helmed by Rodriguez’s pal Quentin Tarantino, and a cast including Clive Owen, Brittany Murphy, Benicio del Toro, Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Rutger Hauer, Michael Madsen, and comeback-kid Mickey Rourke.

The Suicide Squad (2021)

Watch on Prime Video

James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad is pumped full of outlandish action, kooky characters, and a top-tier cast. This is a bold and bloody entertaining flick, complete with a shark voiced by Sylvester Stallone, John Cena’s hilarious turn as Peacemaker, Taika Waititi’s touching Ratcatcher cameo, and a bright pink CGI cosmic starfish eliciting more empathy than most flesh-and-blood actors achieve in modern superhero fare.

Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Watch on Prime Video

Tom Cruise takes a new team of navy pilots under his wing, whilst Joseph Kosinski hangs cameras all over the cockpits of real jets, combining eye-popping visuals with ear-blasting sound design. Whether you think Cruise singlehandedly saved post-pandemic cinema with this sequel to 1986s Top Gun or not, it really is a remarkable feat of popcorn-crunching movie magic.

Transformers (2007)

Watch on Prime Video

From stunning special effects, to the kind of whizz-bang camera moves and manic Bayhem we expect from the director of Armageddon, this is a robot-toy-car movie that knows its demographic. Full of cool cars going vrrrrrroom, massive robots stomping, and slow-mo explosions, this one has enough plot and self-awareness to carry the audience through wave after wave of destruction.