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10 Best Winter Action Movies to Watch Next

December 17, 20239 Mins Read

Action movies and the winter season have a surprisingly long history together, and there are many reasons this could be. On one hand, the stark contrast of icy landscapes against intense action sequences creates a visually striking cinematic experience. Furthermore, snow-covered landscapes and frozen environments add an extra layer of challenges for characters, introducing elements like slippery terrain and extreme weather conditions to heighten the stakes. The cold, desolate setting can also mirror the emotional tone of the story, enhancing tension and amplifying the struggles faced by the protagonists.

And then, of course, there are the festivities! The juxtaposition of holiday decorations, twinkling lights, and festive atmospheres with dangerous, dark, and, at times, bloody action sequences creates a unique blend of excitement and seasonal charm that offers a playful twist to the action genre. With this in mind, grab yourself a cup of hot cocoa and get ready to experience the greatest winter action movies ever made as we take you on a frost-filled journey, from icy mountains to Christmas heists.

10 Reindeer Games (2000)

Starring Ben Affleck, Charlize Theron, and Gary Sinise, Reindeer Games revolves around a recently released ex-convict, who gets entangled in a casino heist with unexpected twists and betrayals. Set against a snowy winter backdrop, the plot keeps viewers on the edge of their seats with its suspenseful narrative and surprising turns.

Why It’s Great

Reindeer Games may not have achieved widespread critical acclaim or set the box office alight, but its entertainment value and unique plot twists are what have helped it secure a spot on this list. Its ensemble cast deliver strong and committed performances, and the movie has amassed a cult following over the years. This holiday heist thriller combines humor and well-choreographed action sequences all set against an icy winter backdrop. Rent on AppleTV

9 The Grey (2011)

The Grey

The Grey

Release Date
September 14, 2011

Released in 2011, The Grey is a survival thriller starring Liam Neeson. The movie follows a group of oil rig workers stranded in the wintry Alaskan wilderness after a plane crash, facing not only the harsh environment, but also a pack of relentless wolves. The movie takes viewers on a harrowing journey through the human mind, examining human resilience and the primal instincts that emerge in life-threatening situations.

Why It’s Great

The Grey scored a very respectable 79% on Rotten Tomatoes, thanks to its gripping survival narrative and Neeson’s powerful performance. The film also exceeded box office expectations, grossing over $81.2 million globally. Its visceral depiction of man-versus-nature and emotional tale of survival made for an extremely intense viewing that ultimately solidified Neeson as an action movie star. Stream on Max

8 Enemy of the State (1998)

Set in and around Washington, D.C. over Christmas, Enemy of the State, starring Will Smith and Gene Hackman, delves into the consequences of government surveillance and the violation of privacy. Smith’s character, Robert Clayton, becomes a target of powerful forces, and the movie explores the impact of technology on individual freedoms, offering a tense and action-packed narrative.

Why It’s Great

Enemy of the State excels in blending action with social commentary, exploring the consequences of a government’s abuse of power. Its relatable and engaging storyline helped it score a solid 71% on Rotten Tomatoes. On top of this, it was a huge box office success, grossing over $250 million worldwide. Smith’s star power combined with Hackman’s Oscar-nominated powerhouse performance, not to mention the engaging storyline, garnered positive audience reception and earned the film multiple award nominations. Stream on Paramount+

7 Cliffhanger (1993)


Cliffhanger is a classic action flick starring Sylvester Stallone in his prime. The story unfolds in the Rocky Mountains, where Stallone’s character, a mountain rescue expert named Gabe, becomes entangled in a heist gone wrong. The wintry mountain landscape becomes a pivotal element in Cliffhanger, providing a treacherous setting for him to navigate during the intense action sequences.

Why It’s Great

While there was some initial critical skepticism, the movie eventually soared at the box office, grossing over $255 million globally. It was praised for its breathtaking mountainous visuals, adrenaline-pumping stunts, and Stallone’s charismatic performance. The movie’s signature action sequences, particularly the iconic “cliff hanging” opening scene, showcase a perfect balance of practical effects and thrilling cinematography, resulting in a classic in the action genre. Rent on AppleTV

6 The Revenant (2015)

Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu and set in the frigid wilderness of 19th-Century America, The Revenant immerses viewers in a winter landscape, becoming a visually striking backdrop for the protagonist’s harrowing journey. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, the film tells the story of a frontiersman’s journey for survival and revenge after a bear attack.

Why It’s Great

What makes The Revenant truly exceptional is its beautiful use of natural landscapes, riveting storytelling, and Hardy and DiCaprio’s tour de force performances. It achieved critical acclaim, with a strong 78% on Rotten Tomatoes score, and was a commercial hit, grossing over $533 million worldwide. Full of breathtaking cinematography that features long and immersive shots, Iñárritu’s direction was particularly praised, winning him a well-earned Academy Award. The movie has also gone down in history as being responsible for Leonardo DiCaprio’s first, and long overdue, Oscar win after years of being snubbed by the Academy. Rent on AppleTV

5 Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

While not centered around winter per se, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang includes plenty of scenes that hint at the festive wintertime of its setting. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, and Michelle Monaghan, the movie combines action with witty dialogue, dark humor, and a complex murder mystery, offering an intriguing and unique blend of genres.

Why It’s Great

Despite modest box office figures, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang gained critical acclaim, with an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. Shane Black’s direction and clever script and the chemistry between Downey and Kilmer are largely to thank for its now-cult classic status. Over time, positive audience reception has solidified its lasting impact, and it is viewed by many as among Downey and Kilmer’s greatest work. Rent on AppleTV

4 The Hateful Eight (2015)

Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight is a western mystery thriller punctuated with moments of intense blood-soaked action. Featuring a star-studded ensemble cast, including Tim Rotch, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kurt Russell, intricate dialogue, and a suspenseful plot, it is set in post-Civil War Wyoming. The story unfolds as a group of strangers seeks refuge during a heavy winter blizzard, leading to tension, deception, and unexpected revelations.

Why It’s Great

Tarantino’s signature style and unconventional storytelling shine in this suspenseful and ever-surprising narrative. With its intricate plot, strong ensemble cast, and unique blend of genres, it received critical acclaim, with a 75% score on Rotten Tomatoes, and grossed over $155 million globally. Ennio Morricone’s classic western score won an Academy Award, and the movie was also nominated for three Oscars in total. Rent on AppleTV

3 The Bourne Identity (2002)

The Bourne Identity is the first installment in the Bourne film series, starring Matt Damon. The movie follows Jason Bourne (Damon), suffering from amnesia, as he navigates a web of conspiracies and discovers his deadly skills. Set in various locales in Switzerland and France during the winter, much of the visuals are gray and damp, which perfectly complements the tense and dark tone of the movie.

Why It’s Great

The Bourne Identity is highly regarded as being the catalyst in the revitalization of the espionage action genre and an influence on a number of movies, including big hitters like the Mission: Impossible and James Bond movies that followed (per The Guardian). Featuring an intense career-defining performance from Damon, inspiring direction from Doug Liman, and a gripping storyline, the stage was set for one of the most memorable franchises in the genre. It scored a whopping 84% on Rotten Tomatoes and grossed over $214 million worldwide, making Damon a bonafide action star in the process. Stream on Hulu

2 Batman Returns (1992)

Batman Returns is the second installment in Tim Burton’s Batman film series, starring Michael Keaton as Batman/Bruce Wayne. The movie introduces iconic characters, including Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) and the utterly terrifying Penguin (Danny DeVito), and explores the darker, more complex aspects of Gotham City. Burton’s signature Gothic style and a compelling narrative work perfectly with the cold, damp, and dark winter setting.

Why It’s Great

Praised for its darker and more complex take on the superhero genre, Batman Returns can be seen as a precursor to the slew of darker comic book superhero movies that followed in the years to come. Interestingly, this darker tone was initially met with some skepticism, but Burton’s direction prevailed in the end, and Batman Returns went on to score 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. It was also a huge hit with viewers and grossed over $266 million worldwide, with particular praise being directed at the lead actors’ performances and Burton’s interpretation of the renowned DC Comics source material.

1 Die Hard (1988)

Set during a terrorist takeover of a Los Angeles skyscraper, Die Hard follows NYPD officer John McClane as he battles the villains. Known for its iconic one-liners and intense action sequences, the film remains an absolute classic in the action movie pantheon. While the debate rages on, over 30 years after its release, whether it is an actual Christmas movie, Die Hard is undoubtedly set over winter and incorporates plenty of snowy, Christmas references which perfectly juxtapose with the film’s intense and uncompromising action.

Why It’s Great

Absolutely ionic in every way, there is heart, humor, and a heap of explosive action. Die Hard redefined the action genre and established Bruce Willis as one of the planet’s biggest action stars. It’s the quintessential action film, with a solid 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie’s massive box office success, grossing over $140 million globally, and enduring cultural impact are a testament to its significance, solidifying its status as a classic action movie benchmark, and certainly the greatest winter action movie of all time. Stream on Starz

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