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15 Best Action Movies Of 2023

December 23, 202310 Mins Read


  • The best action movies of 2023 encompass a wide range of subgenres and feature both iconic characters and original concepts.
  • The key to a successful action movie lies in a careful balance between compelling characters and hair-raising action scenes.
  • From high-speed racing to brutal vigilantism, and from fantasy adventures to martial arts comedies, the best action movies of 2023 deliver thrilling and memorable experiences.

2023 gave fans some thrilling action movies, and the best ones will likely remain popular for years to come. The outstanding action movies of the year encompass a wide range of subgenres and styles. Sports dramas, sci-fi thrillers, and hilarious action-comedies all left lasting impressions in 2023. Some massive characters returned, like John Wick and Indiana Jones, but there were just as many original action concepts that brought their fresh perspectives to the genre, and they could even lead to their own franchises.

Action movies need a thoughtful approach to their characters and a compelling story, but they can still be forgettable if they don’t deliver hair-raising action scenes. Filmmaking technology has advanced to the point that movies can depict surreal scenes more believably than ever before, but the best action movies find a way to keep their fights and chases grounded firmly in reality. The best action movies of 2023 showcase a variety of solutions to this same problem, but they all rely on careful direction and choreography to make them feel authentic and exciting.

15 Gran Turismo

High-speed video-game thrills

The drivers at the GT Academy in Gran Turismo

Its graphic overlays are a smart way to blend the excitement of high-speed racing with video-game fantasy.

Gran Turismo takes a fresh approach to adapting a video game for the big screen. The story follows a young gamer whose obsession with the Gran Turismo racing franchise leads him to a professional driving academy. Gran Turismo makes some changes to its real-life inspiration, and some of these serve the narrative at the cost of believable sporting action. Regardless of its accuracy, Gran Turismo still provides a thrilling final race at Le Mans, and its graphic overlays are a smart way to blend the excitement of high-speed racing with video-game fantasy.

14 The Equalizer 3

Brutal and shocking vigilantism

Denzel Washington with blood spatter on his face as Robert McCall in The Equalizer 3.

Denzel Washington picks up where he left off in The Equalizer 3, with the very first scene seeing Robert McCall take down some Mafia hard men. In Sicily, Robert strolls around enjoying the rustic scenery and charming the locals, but the movie can turn on a dime, and slide into bone-crunching fight scenes. An eerie, fretful score reflects the trepidation that the local people feel under the thumb of the Mafia, and Robert takes it upon himself to dispense vigilante justice with clinical brutality.

13 Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

The final goodbye to an iconic character

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a great companion to Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, but the movie doesn’t quite reach the heights of Spielberg’s original trilogy. Still, despite the distracting CGI de-aging and a ludicrous third act, the movie still delivers on its promise of a wild ride through history. Some of the best action sequences recapture the 1980s magic, like Indy’s galloping on horseback through a parade in Manhattan, or the thrilling tuk-tuk chase in Tangier. Indy’s biggest fans will also delight at the treasure trove of Easter eggs in Dial of Destiny.

12 Sisu

Finnish Nazi-bashing fun

Jorma Tommila as Aatami Korpi in SISU

Finnish action thriller Sisu follows a gold prospector in Lapland trying to reclaim his prize from a corrupt Nazi death squad. Aatami Korpi’s bloody quest for revenge is a boldly visceral adventure, and the filmmakers clearly had a lot of fun concocting different ways to kill Nazis. The Finnish word “sisu” describes a kind of stoic tenacity, and Aatami is an action hero in the same vein as John Wick or the Terminator. Sisu is a joyous ride from start to finish, a loving pastiche to a bygone era of action movies with a deliriously gory streak.


Sisu Movie: Where To Watch The Finnish War Film – Is It On Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Or Hulu?

Sisu is the war movie that has had many clambering to know where it’s available to watch, and the ultra-violent revenge film continues to shock.

11 Fast Charlie

Southern charm and stunning violence

pierce brosnan in fast charlie

Former James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan shows that he can still come up with the goods in Fast Charlie, a well-crafted revenge epic with Southern charm. Brosnan plays Charlie Swift, who prefers to describe himself as a “fixer” rather than a hitman. Charlie’s latest hit is missing his head, so to prove the man’s identity, he is sent on a wild and dangerous odyssey. Fast Charlie features the last performance of James Caan, star of The Godfather and Thief, among many others.

10 The Covenant

A human story of chaotic war

Jake Gyllenhaal emphasizes a point with his finger pointing at Dar Salim in in Guy Ritchie's The Covenant

Guy Ritchie is probably best known for his British gangster movies, but he hasn’t been afraid to reach beyond his comfort zone. Ritchie’s second movie of 2023, after Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre, stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Dar Salim as soldiers who team up to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan. Ritchie reins in his stylistic instincts for The Covenant, making a truly believable war thriller that is still just as punchy. The relationship between the American sergeant and his Afghan interpreter gives The Covenant a surprising emotional depth.

9 Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Fantasy adventure that packs a punch

Simon holds the hither thither staff in Dungeons & Dragons Honor Among Thieves

The characters in Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves represent staple archetypes from the tabletop game, but the movie works as an epic fantasy even for people who aren’t familiar with the game’s rich lore. Dungeons and Dragons is so varied as a game, with each session representing a whole world of possibilities, that a single movie could hardly capture its entire scope. But Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves succeeds thanks to its magic-infused fight choreography, and its delicate balance between action and character.

8 Polite Society

British humor and South Asian martial arts

polite society movie

The hilarious fight scenes in Polite Society have drawn comparisons to the movies of Edgar Wright and Jackie Chan, but the British martial arts comedy is boldly of its own making. Polite Society doesn’t just take a swipe at regressive, patriarchal standards; it jump kicks them squarely in the jaw. The movie’s delightful characters find themselves completely at odds with the expectations of older generations, and they deconstruct antiquated social norms with relatable humor and gleeful action.

7 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

The pinnacle of super-powered combat

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 Groot I Love You Guys

By far Marvel’s best movie in a relatively quiet year, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 gave writer-director James Gunn a chance to bid farewell to the original team. The story reveals a lot more about Rocket’s past, and it also introduces some interesting new characters, like Adam Warlock and his lovable pet Blurp. The corridor fight scene, as the camera swirls around the heroes, is one of the best moments of pure action in any Guardians of the Galaxy movie, and there are plenty more hard-hitting fights, especially those with Warlock at the center.

6 The Killer

Gorgeously shot, with heart-racing tension

the killer michael fassbender

Michael Fassbender plays a ruthless and meticulous assassin with a nihilistic worldview. The Killer is just as much about tension and anticipation as it is about brutal violence, and David Fincher is the perfect director to bring his audience inside the mind of the killer. Fincher’s camera follows each of Fassbender’s minute movements with hawkish attention. Ultimately, he creates an intensely claustrophobic atmosphere, with no separation between the viewer and an amoral murderer. When the tension gives way to bursts of action, they carry the added weight of this closeness.

5 Cocaine Bear

More than just a zany title

Cocaine Bear caught a lot of people’s attention with its outlandish title, but few truly expected such a thrilling crowd-pleaser. Cocaine Bear is loosely based on a true story, although it is boldly dismissive of the facts. Instead of following the actual events closely, Cocaine Bear comes up with a hilarious cockamamie romp through a state park, featuring a superb cast who each get brutally shredded, bitten and disemboweled in gloriously gory fashion. Cocaine Bear‘s physical comedy is outstanding, but it can provide thrills and scares as well as laughs.

4 Creed III

Michael B. Jordan makes the franchise his own

Donnie in the ring in Creed III

Michael B. Jordan’s directorial debut carries on the good work of the Creed series. Ryan Coogler is a tough act to follow, but Jordan finds new depths to his own character, Adonis Creed, while simultaneously establishing himself as a confident and precise visual director. Johnathan Majors is a volatile opponent as Damian “Dame” Anderson, and his presence perfectly digs at Creed’s yearning for the spotlight. The training montages are classic Rocky franchise fare, but the final showdown, between two childhood friends who were forced down different paths, feels strikingly new.

3 John Wick 4

Yet more innovative fight choreography

Keanu Reeves holding a pistol in John Wick: Chapter 4.

The video-game style top-down shootout with incendiary “Dragon’s Breath” ammo proves that the franchise has no shortage of innovative ideas.

The most compelling original action franchise of the past decade showed no signs of faltering with its fourth installment. Donnie Yen is an inspired addition to the cast, and his character finally provides John with an equal in terms of sheer murderous power. John Wick 4‘s shocking ending is a perfect way to round out the story, but fans will be keen to see more of the same kind of action. The video-game style top-down shootout with incendiary “Dragon’s Breath” ammo proves that the franchise has no shortage of innovative ideas.

2 Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse

Sci-fi mayhem packed with creative combat

Miles MoralesĀ (Shameik Moore) fights Dr. Johnathon Ohnn/The Spot (Jason Schwartzman) in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

The revolutionary kaleidoscopic swagger of the first Spider-Verse movie takes on even more depth in the sequel, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. For the movie to not only match the fierce originality of its predecessor, but to develop endlessly new avenues for exploration, is mightily impressive. The dazzling cast of characters could each have enough personality to carry their own spinoffs, but the truth is that Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse gives them all exactly enough focus, while still keeping Miles Morales at center stage. The bold animated fights use the medium to its full potential, as does the comic book humor.

1 Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

A globe-trotting thriller with genuine heft

Tom Cruise reinforces his claim as the king of the summer blockbuster once again with the wildly entertaining Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One. For fans of the franchise and newcomers alike, the movie treats its audience to death-defying stunts and adrenaline-pumping action in glorious excess. Competition from Barbie and Oppenheimer meant that Dead Reckoning Part One didn’t get all the attention that it fully deserves, but the car chase through Rome and the fight sequence on the train show that the movie’s disappointing box office numbers are no reflection of its quality.

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