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The 15 best action movies on Paramount+

January 12, 202415 Mins Read

Paramount Pictures is currently the second oldest film studio in the U.S. (behind Universal), which means that Paramount+ is a bit of a treasure trove. In fact, the streamer houses more than a few action franchises you’re bound to recognize, from Transformers to the Mission: Impossible movies. In a throwback to the old studio system, you’ll also find that the Paramount collection favors certain stars (so fans of Tom Cruise, Eddie Murphy, and Mark Wahlberg, you’re in luck), as well as some older cult classics.

We went through and picked out some gems available on Paramount+. From the birth of the buddy cop comedy to journeys where no one has gone before, here are the best action movies on Paramount+, as of January 2024.

48 Hrs. (1982)

Everett Collection

Eddie Murphy was a mere 20 years old when he burst from Saturday Night Live to make a film debut that can only be described as explosive. The brilliant pairing of the hilarious, unbridled new star against Nick Nolte‘s grizzled, hardened police detective proved to be box office gold, with director Water Hill reportedly encouraging the two leads to improvise. EW rightly dubbed the 1982 action comedy as the film “that not only triggered a whole wave of interracial-buddy-cop movies, but also marked the transformation of the brash comedian from an overnight sensation on Saturday Night Live into the baddest box-office draw of the ’80s.” And it holds up, from Murphy’s unforgettable takedown of a country-western bar to the epic hotel-lobby shootout. You can even spot James Remar and David Patrick Kelly, alums from Hill’s The Warriors (1979), as the thugs. —Gwen Inhat

Where to watch 48 Hours: Paramount+

EW grade: B+ (read the review)

Director: Walter Hill

Cast: Nick Nolte, Eddie Murphy, Annette O’Toole, Frank McRae, James Remar, David Patrick Kelly, Sonny Landham

Related content: The 21 best (and worst) Eddie Murphy movies

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

Everett Collection

There’s actually a second sequel for this movie in the works, making now an excellent time to revisit Eddie Murphy’s first classic turn as Axel Foley. Unbelievably, this was only his third film (after the aforementioned 48 Hrs. and 1983’s Trading Places), and it cemented Murphy as a bona fide movie star. His performance as a fish-out-of-water detective defies both his youth and his near-novice Hollywood status: “Whether Murphy’s hilariously playing the race card at the front desk of a posh hotel or trying to shake the pair of dim detectives assigned to shadow him, he’s always in control,” says EW’s critic. —G.I.

Where to watch Beverly Hills Cop: Paramount+

EW grade: B (read the review)

Director: Martin Brest

Cast: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, Lisa Eilbacher, Ronny Cox, Steven Berkoff

Related content: Eddie Murphy’s Beverly Hills Cop sequel adds original stars Paul Reiser, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, Bronson Pinchot

Bumblebee (2018)

Paramount Pictures

Michael Bay‘s Transformers movies are known for being loud smash-em-ups: action-packed, but not much in the way of plot or character development. But Travis Knight’s Bumblebee broke that mold. In the film, Bumblebee must take refuge from the Decepticons on Earth in 1987, where he meets Hailee Steinfeld‘s mechanically-inclined Charlie and forms a kind of live-action Iron Giant relationship. Steinfeld’s winning portrayal underlines why she was such a standout child actor, and the film uses her bond with Bumblebee to springboard onto larger life lessons, like when she tells him, “People can be terrible about things they don’t understand.” Don’t worry, there are still lots of heavy metal transformations and explosion-filled battles, but the highlight of this movie is Bumblebee cranking ’80s tunes from his abdomen. —G.I.

Where to watch Bumblebee: Paramount+

EW grade: B+ (read the review)

Director: Travis Knight

Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, Pamela Adlon

Related content: A rundown of all the Transformers in that opening Bumblebee battle

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023)

Paramount Pictures and eOne

This adaptation of the popular RPG could have been a cynical cash grab, but writer-directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley chose the right approach by crafting a loving tribute to what makes the game so addictive without taking it too seriously. Set in the Forgotten Realms, the film follows Edgin (Chris Pine) and Holga (Michelle Rodriguez), a pair of thieves who band together with a budding sorcerer (Justice Smith) and a druid (Sophia Lillis) to find a magic relic to help clear Edgin’s name and reunite him with his daughter. As EW’s critic wrote in their review, “The goal is to capture an experience rather than a specific story — and Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves delightfully nails the fun of role-playing as fantasy characters with your friends. It doesn’t require any prior playing experience, either.” —Kevin Jacobsen

Where to watch Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves: Paramount+

EW grade: B+ (read the review)

Directors: Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley

Cast: Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Hugh Grant

Related content: Here’s the story behind that Dungeons & Dragons surprise cameo

Face/Off (1997)

Nicolas Cage and John Travolta in ‘Face/Off’.

Paramount Pictures/Courtesy: Everett Collection

Face/Off is a freaky action thriller with a plot that makes little sense: In an attempt to foil a terrorist plot, FBI agent Sean Archer swaps faces with crime kingpin Casper Troy. (Yes, we see the face-switch operation, but that doesn’t explain the swapped haircuts, body shapes, and vocal cords.) Fortunately, the movie stars John Travolta and Nicolas Cage as the arch-enemies and is directed by John Woo, who transforms extreme violence into a brutal cinematic ballet. As EW’s critic described, “[Director John] Woo makes this preposterous premise soar with an audaciously inventive plot that never stops hurtling forward and 3-D characters that never stop surprising us.” It helps that both Travolta and Cage do some of their best-ever work, especially when they’re imitating each other’s character in their own bodies. Cage’s Casper Troy is imbued with so many idiosyncrasies at the beginning of the film that Travolta clearly has a ball adapting them, while Cage does an admirable job depicting the defeated Archer trapped behind Casper’s face. Then, the alternate personas start seeping into both men’s psyches, and the performances get even more interesting. As long as you don’t think about it too much, Face/Off is an extremely enjoyable wild ride. —G.I.

Where to watch Face/Off: Paramount+

EW grade: A (read the review)

Director: John Woo

Cast: John Travolta, Nicolas Cage, Joan Allen, Gina Gershon, Alessandro Nivola, Colm Feore

Related content: Nicolas Cage says he ‘left my body’ while filming this iconic Face/Off scene

Gladiator (2000)

Russell Crowe in ‘Gladiator’.
Universal/Getty Images

Ridley Scott resurrected the once-popular sword-and-sandal genre of the 1960s with this turn-of-the-century epic in which Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe) refuses to swear fealty to the corrupt new emperor, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), who subsequently has Maximus’ family killed. Maximus seeks revenge by competing in the gladiator games in the hope of eventually taking down Commodus. The film delivers on old-fashioned thrills while taking advantage of newer technology of which the great directors of the ’50s and ’60s could only dream. Earning more than $500 million at the box office and winning five Oscars including Best Picture, Gladiator indeed kept its audience entertained, and holds up on repeat viewings ahead of the highly anticipated sequel, set for release in 2024. —K.J.

Where to watch Gladiator: Paramount+

EW grade: A– (read the review)

Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou, Richard Harris

Related content: Russell Crowe considered leaving Gladiator over ‘absolute rubbish’ early script

The Lost City (2022)

Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum in ‘The Lost City’.
Kimberley French/Paramount

While on a book tour promoting her latest romance novel, writer Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) gets kidnapped and taken to a remote, lush location with the goal of looking for the mysterious titular city. And when her own devoted, Fabio-like book cover model (Channing Tatum) goes after her, romantic hijinks quickly ensue as Loretta starts living an adventure not unlike the ones she pens. What follows is a delightfully breezy action flick that may even carry twinges of genre nostalia. As an EW critic notes, “There used to be a lot more of a certain kind of sunny, modestly ambitious movie that might have been called a romp: blithe action comedies in which two pretty people fight and blunder and fall for each other, and maybe romance a few stones along the way. Almost everything about The Lost City feels familiar in that sense, and comforting, too.” —G.I.

Where to watch The Lost City: Paramount+

EW grade: B (read the review)

Director: Aaron and Adam Nee

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Brad Pitt

Related content: The Lost City cast on ‘zany’ shoot, nearly losing Daniel Radcliffe: ‘We’re going to kill him’

Minority Report (2002)

Tom Cruise in ‘Minority Report’.
Twentieth Century Studios

This 2002 action thriller is one of Steven Spielberg‘s most thought-provoking films — in every sense of the phrase. The film transports us to a futuristic world in which an innovative policing program called “Precrime” seeks to stop murders before they happen, using the collective psychic powers of three clairvoyants. Tom Cruise is Precrime’s chief commanding officer, but the program is turned back around on him when he’s flagged as a future murderer himself. This turns him into a fugitive, desperately trying to evade capture while learning the truth behind why he was targeted and how Precrime isn’t as infallible as it claims to be. Tackling themes of free will, the slippery slope of police surveillance, and more, the film raises potent questions on our technological future while also delivering as a pulse-pounding thriller. As EW’s critic wrote, “What’s exciting about Minority Report (and abrasive, too, in the way of a good scrubbing) is the movie’s relentless demonstration of technological convenience inextricably entangled with a profound invasion of privacy.” —K.J.

Where to watch Minority Report: Paramount+

EW grade: N/A (read the review)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Max von Sydow

Related content: A guide to Minority Report‘s future world

Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation (2015)

David James/Paramount Pictures

Somehow, the M:I films just keep getting better, as improbable as that seems. There are many highlights of 2015’s Rogue Nation, but since Tom Cruise doggedly insists on still doing his own stunts, our favorite moment is when he kicks off the movie by clinging to a plane mid-liftoff. (Note: not CGI!) As Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his team go after an anti-IMF Syndicate, they’re aided by an equally impressive undercover agent (Rebecca Ferguson), who has some amazing fight scenes of her own. “…Like all Mission: Impossible films (of which there’s yet to be a dud), it’s not so much about the outcome as it is the breathlessly thrilling journey Cruise takes us on to get there,” writes EW critic. And you’re in luck, because the first six films are all streaming on Paramount+ as well. —G.I.

Where to watch Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation: Paramount+

EW grade: B+ (read the review)

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, Alec Baldwin

Related content: See Tom Cruise hold his breath for 6 minutes for Mission: Impossible stunt

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Harrison Ford in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’.
Everett Collection

As if Star Wars weren’t enough, this first entry in the Indiana Jones film franchise further cemented Harrison Ford‘s status as a superstar. One of the most beloved films of all time, Raiders of the Lost Ark finds Ford’s rogue archaeologist Indiana Jones battling Nazis who are looking to track down the Ark of the Covenant in the hope of making their armed forces invincible. Unfolding at a relentlessly thrilling pace, Steven Spielberg’s action-adventure is elevated further by Ford’s charisma, his sparring dynamic with Karen Allen as Indy’s old flame Marion, and another rousing score by John Williams. —K.J.

Where to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark: Paramount+

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies, Denholm Elliott

Related content: Raiders of the Lost Ark: 14 revelations about its epic opening scene

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023)

Mikey, Donnie, Leo and Raph in ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’.

Paramount Pictures/Paramount+

Paramount+ is the home for numerous iterations of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, from the original series to the live-action films, but Mutant Mayhem is easily the most well-received entry in the franchise’s history, with both critics and audiences. The animated action-adventure flick finds the four anthropomorphic turtles wanting to explore life outside the sewers, and soon become unlikely heroes attempting to take down a gang of criminals — who also happen to be mutants. With quippy humor that amuses kids and adults alike, plus visually striking action set pieces inspired by the comic-book feel of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Mutant Mayhem is a fast-paced good time for all audiences. —K.J.

Where to watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem: Paramount+

Director: Jeff Rowe

Cast: Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr., Nicolas Cantu, Brady Noon, Ayo Edebiri, Maya Rudolph, John Cena, Seth Rogen, Ice Cube, Jackie Chan

Related content: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles get a Spider-Verse-style makeover in Mutant Mayhem trailer

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, and Edward Furlong in ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’.
Courtesy Everett Collection

Frequently hailed as one of the best sequels of all time, T2 takes the potential of the original Terminator and adds in higher-budget action sequences and an emotionally resonant story. The film follows time-traveling cyborg T-800’s (Arnold Schwarzenegger) attempts to protect future resistance leader John Connor (Edward Furlong) and his mother Sarah (Linda Hamilton) from the malevolent T-1000 (Robert Patrick), who is sent to kill them. Even all these years later, the film holds up surprisingly well, largely due to the chemistry of John and the T-800 and Sarah Connor’s badass sensibility, but its visual effects remain impressive, “in part because there’s real magic to them, a sense of technological wonder,” said EW’s critic at the time. “By the end of the movie, we feel that this shape-shifting terminator, this sinister mass of chameleonic metal, has an identity all its own.” —K.J.

Where to watch Terminator 2: Judgment Day: Paramount+

EW grade: B+ (read the review)

Director: James Cameron

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick

Related content: Arnold Schwarzenegger recalls seeing Linda Hamilton’s buffed up Terminator 2 biceps for the first time

Top Gun (1986)

Val Kilmer and Tom Cruise in Top Gun.
Everett Collection

Top Gun: Maverick grabbed a lot of headlines (and box office victories) in 2022, but let’s not forget where all this military flight bombast began. As EW’s critic said in his look back at the now-heralded classic: “Watching Top Gun now…you can see why Cruise, then a baby-faced 23, became the biggest star of the era. His thousand-watt smile is the film’s best special effect. He’s confident and charismatic, a daredevil riding right into the danger zone.” Today, the sequel’s recent success presents an excellent opportunity to revisit Maverick’s friendship with Goose (Anthony Edwards), his rivalry with Iceman (Val Kilmer), and the iconic volleyball match that foreshadowed Maverick’s football game. But the main takeaway from rewatching the 1986 film is just how those stunning flight scenes are even decades later. (And the soundtrack doesn’t hurt, either.) —G.I.

Where to watch Top Gun: Paramount+

EW grade: B (read the review)

Director: Tony Scott

Cast: Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, Tom Skerritt

Related content: Top Gun at 35: Editor who cut first trailer recalls Tom Cruise ‘jumping up and down’ with excitement

Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Tom Cruise in ‘Top Gun: Maverick’.
Paramount Pictures

Follow up your Top Gun rewatch with its highly acclaimed “legacyquel,” released 36 years after the original. Cruise reprises his role as Maverick — whose rebellious streak has remained, even decades later — and is now tasked with training Top Gun graduates, including his old partner Goose’s son, Rooster (Miles Teller), who bears a striking resemblance to his father. As Maverick trains his students for a precarious flight mission, he also attempts to overcome the trauma of the past. With eye-popping aerial sequences and an earnestly emotional core, Top Gun: Maverick earned widespread acclaim not only from audiences but critics, many of whom claimed it as better than the first Top Gun. The film went on to receive six Oscar nominations including Best Picture, taking home the win for Best Sound. —K.J.

Where to watch Top Gun: Maverick: Paramount+

EW grade: B+ (read the review)

Director: Joseph Kosinski

Cast: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Ed Harris, Val Kilmer

Related content: Tom Cruise says he ‘got emotional’ over Val Kilmer’s return for Top Gun sequel: ‘I was crying’

World War Z (2013)

Brad Pitt, Abigail Hargrove, and Mireille Enos in ‘World War Z’.
Jaap Buitendijk/Paramount Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

Brad Pitt leads this globetrotting action drama about a zombie outbreak that quickly turns into an apocalypse. UN investigator Gerry Lane (Pitt) is tasked with finding the source of the outbreak to help develop a vaccine, but, with zombies multiplying by the minute, the clock is ticking. Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Max Brooks, this adaptation goes in a decidedly more action-oriented direction, delivering massive entertainment even if it’s not as deep as its source material. “World War Z is epically scaled, but it’s not a messy, noisy, CGI-bogus, throw-everything-at-the-audience sort of blockbuster,” wrote EW’s critic. “It’s thrillingly controlled, and it builds in impact.” —K.J.

Where to watch World War Z: Paramount+

EW grade: A– (read the review)

Director: Marc Forster

Cast: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale

Related content: World War Z is actually the story of Brad Pitt

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