Action movies hit as hard with audiences as they ever had in 2022, but in a way that people might not have expected. That is to say, it was a year where some of the year’s best action came from some unexpected actors and actresses, as well as some projects that really pushed the genre a bit more than the usual run-and-gun type thriller.
Rest assured, there are still those types of standard action movies that made this list, but there’s no denying this year looked a little different and contained a lot less of the usual suspects. With that in mind, let’s dive into the top action movies of 2022.
10. The Contractor
I’d say if there were an award for the most standard action-thriller in 2022, The Contractor would run away with it. That’s not a knock on the Chris Pine movie, as there’s nothing wrong with sticking with a formula that’s familiar. You add Kiefer Sutherland to this spec ops thriller vehicle, and that’s a solid action thriller for a Friday night viewing! It’s certainly worth the price of admission of a Paramount+ subscription, just in case anyone interested isn’t actively subscribed.
Where to stream The Contractor: Paramount+
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9. Bullet Train
Bullet Train looked like a must-watch action film from the very first trailer, and I’m happy to report that is the case. This is a movie experience that will stick with you long after the viewing, and while it may be reminiscent of other action movies, it’s drenched with a style that gives it a bit more of a pop that viewers will enjoy. Plus, who can say no to Bullet Train's stellar cast of talented actors?
Where to stream Bullet Train: Netflix
Tom Holland had so much success as Peter Parker, Sony seemed to think he’d do just as well as Uncharted’s Nathan Drake. While fans of the gaming franchise might grumble and gripe about the casting, he brings that classic Holland charm that makes the Spider-Man movies so enjoyable. Critics weren’t entirely on board with the movie, but it seemed to find success all the same. CinemaBlend Dirk Libbey credited it as one of the best video game movie adaptations, which could’ve definitely played a factor if that’s the case.
Where to stream Uncharted: Netflix
It’s not often that Indian films get a lot of attention from the United States, especially those in the action genre. And yet, the internet was all about RRR and some of the batshit crazy action sequences of this story of Indian revolutionaries Alluri Sitarama Raju and Komaram Bheem. This movie is over the top if you compare it to the standard action movie, but honestly, pretty on par with the average Marvel film too. It’s certainly worth a watch, especially if you’re down for some of the most intense animal fight scenes of the year.
Where to stream RRR: Netflix
It was never a question that Michael Bay’s Ambulance would be on the list, as few in the business know how to film an explosive thriller as well as the Hollywood director. CinemaBlend’s Eric Eisenberg gave Ambulance a favorable review and noted that he appreciated the self-aware tone that allowed Bay to go “bonkers” and had all sorts of compliments for Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance. Bay’s work is so prolific action fans are going to know what they’re getting into here, but just because it’s familiar doesn’t mean it’s unworthy of a spot on this list.
Where to stream Ambulance: Prime Video
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5. The Gray Man
Ryan Gosling showed he’s capable of shouldering action movies in Drive and Only God Forgives, but those are nothing quite like The Gray Man. The Netflix thriller definitely leaned on the popularity of Bourne movies for its story, and while critics were “blah” about it, audiences are all about it. This is a fun action film, and Chris Evans’ sociopath villain steals the show. It’s not a movie that’ll win big at the Academy, but I, and I assume many others, will be watching the sequel for more non-stop action and thrills.
Where to stream The Gray Man: Netflix
Let’s just be honest, the Predator franchise hasn’t been the most consistent franchise in terms of quality. As such, I can imagine quite a few were surprised when its latest film premiered on Hulu as one of the most critically-acclaimed Predator movies since the original. CinemaBlend’s Dirk Libbey said this was thanks in large part to the movie leaning on the elements that made the original so great. It’s certainly a breath of fresh air for a Predator franchise that definitely needed a win.
Where to stream Prey: Hulu
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3. The Woman King
Viola Davis: potential future EGOT as well as action star? The actress proved once again she’s capable of doing it all and more in The Woman King. Davis crushed it as General Nanisca, the leader and trainer of the Agojie. CinemaBlend’s Corey Chichizola loved the action of the movie, and credited Davis with her portrayal of a tough-as-nails character and showing off the vulnerability behind that character.
Where to stream The Woman King: Prime Video
2. The Northman
Director Robert Eggers has consistently delivered some iconic movies to audiences in recent years, though one wouldn’t say previous offerings like The Witch or The Lighthouse belonged in the action category. That wasn’t the case in The Northman, which CinemaBlend’s Eric Eisenberg gave a well-deserved 4.5 out of 5 stars to. In what’s described as a mix of brutal and breathtaking, The Northman delivers an action film that’s both entertaining and a stunning display of the ancient world. I could’ve guessed that a Viking revenge film would’ve been a blast to watch, but this is some serious high praise.
Where to stream The Northman: Prime Video
1. Everything, Everywhere, All At Once
Everything, Everywhere, All At Once had a lot of guts to try and make a movie about a multiverse in the golden era of superhero movies. It also had a lot of guts to center its action-heavy story around 60-year-old Michelle Yeoh. All that to say, this movie knew exactly what it was doing, and it couldn’t have picked a better lead to kick, punch, scream and hot dog-finger her way through a wild adventure that will live on as a movie people talk about decades from now. It’s worth the chatter and, hopefully, will net Yeoh some Oscar recognition during awards season.
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2022 was loaded with quality offerings in the action genre, and that’s not even including the superhero movies! Be sure to check out our overall list of best action movies on streaming, including where to watch them, once you’ve made it through the entires on this list.
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Mick contains multitudes and balances his time reporting on big happenings in the world of Star Trek, the WWE, reality television, and other sci-fi shows.