The 15 Best Action Movies on HBO Max

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Do you want to shake off the drudgery of a long day with something thrilling? You’ll need an action film with spectacular fighting, incredible stunts, terrifying chases, and a climax spectacle that will blow your mind. Whether you prefer science fiction, fantasy, cop drama, catastrophe films, superheroes, heist thrillers, mythic monsters, family-friendly adventure, or R-rated violence, we have a great selection of films to choose from.

The 15 best action movies on HBO Max are listed below.

1. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy, which began in 2001 with this internationally acclaimed first chapter, brings J.R.R. Tolkien’s high-fantasy classic to life. A modest Hobbit named Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) embarks on an epic quest to destroy a mighty token desired by a powerful sorcerer in the mysterious realm of Middle-earth. Frodo finds strength in the fellowship that surrounds him while he is pursued by dark forces. In a legendary film series that wowed fans and reviewers, noble elves, brooding warriors, churlish dwarves, knowledgeable wizards, and hungry Hobbits participate in the quest to defend their planet. Even better, by adding The Two Towers and The Return of the King to your watch list, you can create your own movie marathon.

2. Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park is a thrilling — and at times horrifying — journey through an amusement park where dinosaurs roam and hunt, adapted on Michael Crichton’s science-gone-awry novel of the same name. To paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler, this appears to be a dream come true at first (Laura Dern). When the Tyrannosaurus rex escapes, however, this stroll in the park turns into a nightmare. The Academy Award-winning visual effects that brought long-extinct dinosaurs back to life, as well as the skillfully choreographed action sequences, wowed spectators. Many of these are nail-biting chase scenes, with human heroes evading apex predators’ jaws and claws. Each was a showpiece that had critics and spectators howling with excitement thanks to intriguing characters, life-or-death stakes, and brilliant girls. Simply told, this 1993 blockbuster hasn’t lost any of its luster.

3. The Matrix

The game was modified by the action film from 1999. Keanu Reeves plays Neo, a hacker who discovers the world he knows is a simulation after falling down a digital rabbit hole. He joins forces with a group of rebels (including Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss) to overthrow the human-enslaving robot oppressors. This mission features jaw-dropping fights, breath-taking escapes, and mind-blowing revelations. Lana and Lilly Wachowski, a writing and directorial partnership, wowed critics and viewers with their remarkable vision. Their unsettling sci-fi dystopia is encased in a seductive cyberpunk aesthetic as sleek as Reeves in a long black trench coat. On top of that, the Wachowskis debuted “bullet time,” a groundbreaking visual effect that slowed action but provided a variety of views to make every hit land harder. The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions are also available on HBO Max, if you want to keep the thrills continuing.

4. Mad Max: Fury Road

This film had no right to be so fantastic. Mad Max: Fury Road was hampered by production issues and suspicions of tensions brewing as the fourth edition of a property that had been dormant for 30 years. However, not only were moviegoers and reviewers blown away when the film was released in 2015, but the Academy was as well, with six Oscars and nominations for Best Picture and Best Director. The story of a post-apocalyptic loner (Tom Hardy) was converted into an operatic epic by director George Miller, who filled it with heart-pounding automobile chases, frantic escapes, jaw-dropping carnage, and flame-throwing guitar solos. In addition to all of the thrilling carnage, this spectacular sequel introduced Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a fierce heroine who was instantly recognizable from her first sneer. Take a look at her.

5. Speed

Which action hero reached our top 15 list twice? Yup. It is Keanu Reeves, who is truly unique. The steely hunk stars as a headstrong LAPD officer who sets out to stop a crazed bomber (a cackling Dennis Hopper) but instead boards a municipal bus that has been prepared to explode in this 1994 smash. This hostage situation is more complicated than simply stopping the bus, since if the speed drops below 50 mph, KABOOM! Bomb-disposal has never been more exciting. Director Jan de Bont provided top-notch tension with jolting automobile chases, dramatic collisions, furious pacing, and plenty of firepowers. But it was the remarkable connection between Reeves and his onscreen love interest, Sandra Bullock, that made this thrilling journey even more thrilling. On their journey to saving the day, they formed a team that stole our hearts — and ignited our sex drive.

6. The Mummy

Remakes aren’t expected to be spectacular, let alone good. Nonetheless, moviegoers were enthralled by this 1999 remake of a 1932 premise. Brendan Fraser plays an American adventurer who discovers relics, romance, and turmoil in Egypt in the 1920s. He teams up with a seductive Egyptologist (Rachel Weisz) and her troubled brother (John Hannah) to find the long-lost City of the Dead. When their dig awakens an ancient mummy of tremendous power, however, this brave trio will uncover more than they ever dreamed – or feared. This adventure has larger-than-life action moments thanks to plagues of flesh-eating scarabs, sentient sandstorms, and supernatural beasts. Make a DIY double feature with 2001’s The Mummy Returns if you want to keep exploring the franchise’s gems.

The Mummy
Photo: Collected

7. Escape from New York

John Carpenter went from establishing slasher history with Halloween to collaborating with Kurt Russell on two sci-fi masterpieces, The Thing and Escape from New York. As Snake Plissken, a cynical anti-hero who is placed into Manhattan’s maximum-security jail after the President is abducted and transferred there, Russell provides one of his most famous performances.

8. Godzilla

Last year, Godzilla Criterion created a magnificent boxed set of Toho Godzilla films to honor the 1,000th spine in their collection. Godzilla Raids Again, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, Godzilla vs. Megalon, and Godzilla, King of the Monsters are among the titles from that collection that have made the leap to HBO Max. A marathon is in order!

9. Greenland

This unexpectedly strong film, one of the best modern disaster pictures, arrived quietly at the end of 2020 when most people were focused on more important matters. That means a lot of people haven’t seen Gerard Butler and Morena Baccarin in this good action film about two people trying to bring their family to safety as a comet hurtles towards Earth.

10. Hero

The brilliant Zhang Yimou directed this epic about the assassination attempt on the life of the King of Qin in 227 BC at the height of the international obsession with wuxia following the triumph of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It was one of the highest-grossing foreign-language films of all time at the time, thanks in large part to the international adoration for star Jet Li.

11. Justice League

Justice League, directed by Zack Snyder, is a superhero team created by Zack Snyder.
Zack Snyder’s fans effectively persuaded Warner Bros. into allowing him the freedom and cash to recut 2017’s Justice League into something closer to the image he had in his brain before Joss Whedon took over the film. As a result, the film is an unquestionably ambitious effort that outperforms the theatrical version (while not quite fixing all of its problems). You’ve found your day’s project if you have four hours on your hands and a taste for deep superhero lore.

12. Independence Day

It’s up to a motley team of American heroes to save the day when a terrible extraterrestrial invasion strikes Earth. Independence Day follows a sardonic satellite engineer (Jeff Goldblum), a gutsy single mom (Vivica A. Fox), a zany Vietnam War warrior (Randy Quaid), a cocky yet charismatic fighter-pilot (Will Smith), and a brave president (Bill Pullman) through a globe-rattling battle for mankind’s destiny. Massive explosions, near escapes, breath-taking air battles, and a satisfying punch directly in the face of an attacking extraterrestrial (“Welcome to Earth!”) are all part of a sequence of best action movies on HBO Max. This 1996 picture received critical acclaim, an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, and widespread acclaim from audiences across the world. It also established Will Smith as an action star and ushered in a new wave of big-budget disaster films. Few, though, could match the jaw-dropping extravaganza presented in this holiday blockbuster.

13. Rush Hour

When Jackie Chan, a Hong Kong native, debuted in this mayhem-filled film in 1998, his star was still rising in the United States. Chan’s expertise of martial arts, audacious stunts, and comedic timing, according to director/producer Brett Ratner, would make him an ideal match for a buddy comedy. In this huge success, a high-kicking Chan and high-energy comic Chris Tucker star as a couple of cops partnered up to rescue a Chinese diplomat’s kidnapped daughter from a ruthless crime lord. Rush Hour, which is as full of wisecracking as it is of butt-kicking, had spectators roaring with laughter and cheers, propelling both of its leads into the Hollywood firmament. Marathon this smash with its whiz-bang sequels, Rush Hour 2 and Rush Hour 3, if you can stomach triple the fun.

14. Birds of Prey

HBO Max has a whole section dedicated to DC adaptations, so you can watch everything from The Justice League to Constantine, as well as a bevy of Batman films and animated series. Subscribers have a lot of options. Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, released in 2020, is our pick for the film with the most insane action. Director Cathy Yan concocted an astonishing three-ring circus of action scenes, spanning from bone-snapping bar brawls to glitter-bombed prison breaks, a crazy musical performance, a vehicle pursuit on roller skates, and an explosively awesome team-up showdown. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rosie Perez, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, and Ella Jay Basco star alongside Margot Robbie in an R-rated superhero film that is audaciously violent, unashamedly sensual, and as much fun as a Harley movie requires. (For further thrills, watch the TV-MA animated series, Harley Quinn.)

15. Inception

With cerebral and powerful films like Tenet and his Dark Knight Trilogy, writer/director Christopher Nolan has enhanced the action genre. However, the reality-bending heist film Inception has been his most innovative action film (so far). Leonardo DiCaprio leads a squad of carefully trained burglars who intend to execute business sabotage using a consciousness-invading technology, dressed up and ready to stun. Simply put, they’re going to break into a powerful heir’s dreams in order to sway him to their side. If the dream worlds around them don’t kill them first, that is. Nolan constructed a metropolis that can fold in on itself, a hotel that tumbles like a slinky, sinister turn, complex totems, and a conclusion that still has tongues wagging within this idea. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elliot Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Marion Cotillard, and Cillian Murphy join DiCaprio in bringing swagger to the film.

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