13 Christmas Action Movies And How To Watch Them

David Harbour in Violent Night with his sledgehammer.
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Not all of the best Christmas movies are particularly family-friendly. For instance, there are many fun and spooky Christmas horror movies and there are just as many that incorporate highly-stylized action thrills into a holiday setting — the most recent (and, perhaps, the most definitive so far) being Violent Night.

The 2022 hit starring David Harbour as the most badass Santa ever made me excited to revisit other awesome flicks that some might be reluctant to count as Christmas movies, but still keep the holidays bright with muzzle flashes and visceral explosions, such as Die Hard. In fact, let’s start with that masterpiece — which I think deserves to be called a Christmas movie despite the opposing arguments — and its equally festive sequel in our list of the best Christmas action movies, along with information on where to find them.

A dead terrorist with a Christmas message in Die Hard

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Die Hard And Die Hard 2 (1988, 1990)

On Christmas Eve, a New York City cop (Bruce Willis) is tasked with rescuing his estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia) and her co-workers when thieves take them hostage in an L.A. skyscraper and, exactly two years later, becomes embroiled in a similar situation at Washington Dulles International Airport.

Why they are some of the best Christmas action movies: While it is not exactly perfect, director John McTiernan’s Die Hard is widely considered to be one of the finest action movies ever made for its gripping suspense, top-notch action sequences, and incredibly talented cast and director Renny Harlin’s sequel — which also makes great use of its holiday setting — is a lot of fun, too.

Stream Die Hard on Starz.
Rent (or buy) Die Hard on Amazon.

Stream Die Hard 2 on Starz.
Rent (or buy) Die Hard 2 on Amazon.

The Tower cast

(Image credit: CJ Entertainment)

The Tower (2012)

On Christmas Eve, the residents of a 108-story apartment complex in Korea are tasked with finding a way out alive when a devastating fire breaks out during a party.

Why it is one of the best Christmas action movies: Borrowing plot elements from Die Hard and The Towering Inferno (before Dwayne Johnson’s Skyscraper did), The Tower is a high-stakes South Korean thriller that — like any great holiday classic — is about family coming together despite insurmountable odds.

Rent (or buy) The Tower on Amazon.

Danny Glover and Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Lethal Weapon (1987)

The holidays are put on hold for an aging detective (Danny Glover) and his new, younger, loose cannon partner (Mel Gibson) who are thrown together to chase ruthless L.A. drug smugglers.

Why it is one of the best Christmas action movies: Before there was Die Hard, there was the first of director Richard Donner’s definitive buddy cop movies, Lethal Weapon, which is arguably the best of the many Shane Black-penned holiday classics on our list.

Rent (or buy) Lethal Weapon on Amazon.

Halle Berry and Damon Wayans in The Last Boy Scout

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Last Boy Scout (1991)

A private investigator (Bruce Willis) and a disgraced former NFL quarterback (Damon Wayans) become embroiled in a violent plot of corruption in the world of professional sports following a mysterious case of murder-suicide by a star athlete on the football field.

Why it is one of the best Christmas action movies: The second Shane Black-penned Christmas classic on our list — the most overt evidence of its holiday connection being a gory illustration of “Satan Claus” — is director Tony Scott’s The Last Boy Scout, which is another one of Bruce Willis’ best movies.

Stream The Last Boy Scout on Tubi.
Rent (or buy) The Last Boy Scout on Amazon.

Geena Davis in The Long Kiss Goodnight

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

After her memories as a government assassin resurface, an amnesiac (Geena Davis) teams up with a detective (Samuel L. Jackson, as a character he would love to revisit) to help her protect her family from enemies of her past.

Why it is one of the best Christmas action movies: Yet another Shane Black-penned Christmas classic is The Long Kiss Good Night, which is also another fun buddy movie and an action-packed holiday flick from Die Hard 2 director Renny Darlin.

Stream The Long Kiss Goodnight on Showtime.
Rent (or buy) The Long Kiss Goodnight on Amazon.

Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

After he is mistaken for an actor, a thief on the run (Robert Downey Jr.) teams up with a private investigator (Val Kilmer) to solve a case as part of research for a movie role in Hollywood during Christmas.

Why it is one of the best Christmas action movies: Considered to be Shane Black’s best movie (and featuring one of Downey Jr.’s best non-MCU performances) is his directorial debut, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang — a dazzling Neo-noir thriller based on Brett Halliday’s novel, Bodies Are Where You Find Them.

Stream Kiss Kiss Bang Bang on Showtime.
Rent (or buy) Kiss Kiss Bang Bang on Amazon.

Iron Man 3

(Image credit: Disney)

Iron Man 3 (2013)

After he suffers a terrorist attack on his property that (in trying to escape) leaves him stranded in a small town, a traumatized Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) teams up with a young fan (Ty Simpkins) to help him get home, rescue Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow), and defeat his latest enemy.

Why it is one of the best Christmas action movies: Shane Black would later direct Downey Jr. in an MCU performance for Iron Man 3, which — you guessed it — is (along with the Hawkeye TV show) one of the few MCU installments set around Christmas and even borrows a few themes from traditional classics like A Christmas Carol.

Stream Iron Man 3 on Disney.
Rent (or buy) Iron Man 3 on Amazon.

Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Keaton in Batman Returns

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Batman Returns (1992)

A wealthy vigilante (Michael Keaton) finds himself at odds with a bird-like enemy (Danny DeVito), but attracted to another, cat-like adversary (Michelle Pfeiffer).

Why it is one of the best Christmas action movies: Another one of the best superhero movies set during the Christmas season is one of the best live-action Batman movies, Batman Returns — director Tim Burton’s visually inventive and infamously controversial follow-up to his first box office smash about the Dark Knight.

Stream Batman Returns on HBO Max.
Rent (or buy) Batman Returns on Amazon.

Ben Affleck in Reindeer Games

(Image credit: Dimension)

Reindeer Games (2000)

A recently released prisoner (Ben Affleck) finds himself participating in a dangerous heist on Christmas Eve after posing as his dead cell-mate to be with the deceased man’s girlfriend (Charlize Theron).

Why it is one of the best Christmas action movies: Years before playing Batman himself, Affleck starred in director John Frankenheimer’s Reindeer Games — an action thriller chock-full of holiday themes such as the title, setting, the robbers’ choice to wear Santa outfits during the centerpiece crime, and the main character’s name: Rudolph.

Stream Reindeer Games on HBO Max.
Rent (or buy) Reindeer Games on Amazon.

Will Smith and Jason Lee in Enemy of the State

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures)

Enemy Of The State (1998)

After accidentally coming into possession of evidence of a government conspiracy while searching for a Christmas gift for his wife (Regina King), a lawyer (Will Smith) suddenly finds himself targeted by a corrupt politician.

Why it is one of the best Christmas action movies: Yet another Tony Scott-directed holiday classic is one of the best Will Smith movies of the ’90s, Enemy of the State — an intense everyman tale from producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

Rent (or buy) Enemy Of The State on Amazon.

Christopher Plummer in The Silent Partner

(Image credit: Carolco Pictures)

The Silent Partner (1978)

After receiving a tip about an upcoming stick-up, a bank teller (Elliot Gould) stashes away most of the cash for himself, leaving the crook (Christopher Plummer) outsmarted and certainly not happy about it.

Why it is one of the best Christmas action movies: Plummer’s villainous character carries out the inciting robbery of The Silent Partner in the Santa suit, which is just one of a few ways this suspenseful, and even funny, adaptation of Anders Bodelsen’s novel, Think of a Number, deserves attention during the holidays.

Rent The Silent Partner on Amazon.

Patrick Floersheim in Deadly Games

(Image credit: L.M. Productions)

Deadly Games (1989)

After a killer dressed as Santa breaks into his home, it is up to a young boy to defend himself and his grandfather one fateful Christmas Eve.

Why it is one of the best Christmas action movies: Imagine the plot of Home Alone, but with much higher stakes and more graphic violence not played for laughs, and you, essentially, have this French cult thriller (and one of the best non-horror movies on Shudder) that is known in the states as Deadly Games.

Stream Deadly Games on Shudder.

May your holidays be merry, bright, and filled with explosive, high-octane thrills by gathering the family (sans the younger ones, to be safe) to watch one of these classic Christmas action movies.

Jason Wiese
Content Writer

Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.