Best Action Movies on HBO Max

Last Updated on February 24, 2022

best action movies on hob max

Back in what already seems like the Stone Age, Netflix had the market cornered when it came to streaming shows and movies, making it a one-stop destination for wasting away the weekends without ever needing to put on pants. Now in this grand future, not only are there more streaming services vying for your attention, there are too many streaming services offering pretty much everything under the sun. Now, the anxiety over what to watch is so real that you may end up giving up and wasting away that pant-less weekend staring at the ceiling.  Luckily, I’m here to help end your turmoil. As with our ongoing “Best Of” on Netflix lists, I will be looking at some of the best and brightest (and perhaps bloodiest, goofiest, horniest, and scariest) available on another major streaming platform – HBO Max. Sporting shows from the premium cable service and a massive catalog of Warner Bros. movies (and more), there’s no shortage of modern hits and cinema classics at your fingertips. But you may be asking questions like, “Where to start?” “What genre?” “Do I need pants for this one?” How about you ask yourself this Q: “Am I in the mood for blood, carnage, manic energy, or all of the above?” No matter what, you’ll probably very much need our list of the Best Action Movies on HBO Max right now.

Regardless of how you answer I have the list that will satisfy all your needs, because this go-around, I will be giving you a list of the very best action films on HBO Max right now. Picking from such a varied genre wasn’t easy, and I had to start by deciding to not include certain movies that would fall into it. Ultimately what that meant was cutting huge franchise movies from the list – namely any DC or superhero films, as well as the many Godzilla/MonsterVerse movies and The Matrix series. The same goes for Mad Max: Fury Road, a crown jewel of the HBO Max lineup, and considering all the deserved praise it received and has continued to receive for the last few years, can afford to sit one list out. All of those films will stay off the list given the amount of exposure they already get on the regular, and in the name of making room for some more terrific, classic entries that deserve to be discovered, re-discovered, watched, re-watched, and spark conversations of their own.

Some you may have seen, some you may have not, but either way, your action dance card will have a lot of titles on it to help you make the hours fly by in a storm of bullets, blood, high-strangeness, and homoerotic bonding. 

*Note: As of this writing, these movies are currently streaming on HBO Max, but as is the nature of these services, could be taken off at the leisure of the company in the future. 

Movies From the last Best Action Movies on HBO list that are still on the service:

Escape From New York

Lady Snowblood

Once Upon a Time in Mexico

Point Break

Police Story

The Road Warrior




Assault on Precinct 13

hbo max action movies precint 13

Director John Carpenter’s second film after Black Star, and just before his blow-out success with Halloween, Assault on Precinct 13 is an action-thriller the showcases much of what would make the director a household name by the 80s. Gritty, dark, suspenseful, and recalls classic Westerns and even George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Fit with Carpenter’s own moody score, you can see in this one a filmmaker already confident in his vision and execution, and it’s a must-see both in the space of action films and the director’s filmography.

From Dusk Till Dawn

hbo max action movies from dusk

Before George Clooney became the handsomest megastar around and before Quentin Tarantino decided to stop trying to be a movie star, the two came together for the action-horror flick from director Robert Rodriguez, From Dusk Till Dawn. The actors play two crook brothers on the lamb down south of the border when they hold a family (Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, and Ernest Liu), and soon find themselves trapped in a bar filled with vampires and must fight to stay alive. Filled with pulpy thrills, gnarly vamp makeup, and the iconic presence of Salma Hayek, this flick coasts on its sheer thrills, and with October on the way, it’s a great way to blend action and creature carnage. 

The Fugitive

hbo max action movies fugitive

Based on the hit TV show of the same name The Fugitive is a staple of the action-thriller genre. This kinetic masterpiece from director Andrew David stars Harrison Ford as Richard Kimble, a man falsely accused of murdering his wife, and even swearing on his life that it was really the “one-armed man” as he makes a run for his life, it doesn’t stop Tommy Lee Jones’ lawman Samuel Gerard from hunting him in down. Jones’ now meme-able delivery of the iconic line “I don’t care,” is one of many reasons why he won the Oscar for his performance, and the movie as a whole is an undeniable classic you can stream at this moment. One of the best action movies on HBO Max right now, and downright one of the best ever.


Greenland was a movie that when the first footage dropped it was easy to label it as simply “Gerard Butler vs. Asteroids,” and prepare for a goofy-fun ride. Turns out, that was certainly not the action-disaster movie director Ric Roman Waugh was going for, instead opting for a gripping, surprisingly soulful examination of people facing impending doom. Drama is well-layered with the chaos, and if you’re looking for some complexity with your world-ending disasters, Greenland checks off more than a few boxes. 


Director Zhang Yimou’s wuxia classic Hero is playing with a lot of genres – action, adventure, romance, drama, mystery – and each one of them blends seamlessly for an incredible 90+ minutes of filmmaking. Starring industry titans Jet Li, Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, Zhang Ziyi, Donnie Yen, and Chen Daoming, the acting across this Rashomon-style, shifting narrative about lovers and assassins is top-notch, and the taut runtime is loaded with breathtaking action and memorable cinematography from Christopher Doyle, easily making this one of the best action movies on HBO Max. 

In the Heart of the Sea

Based on the true story that inspired Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea is one of the director’s best movies that people seem to have ignored. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy, Ben Whishaw, and pre-Spider-Man Tom Holland as whalers in 1820, and whose ship is soon taken down by a massive sperm whale. A merging of action, adventure, and survival, the film sports some mesmerizing visual effects and cinematography from Anthony Dod Mantle, as well as committed performances from the whole cast, each dropping some serious weight for the film’s final half. The first half is stronger than the second, but there’s some great stuff in here that raises it above its middling response upon release, and certainly makes it worth a stream on HBO.


If what you’re looking for are more straightforward, destructive thrills with your natural disasters, then it’s hard to get more iconic and damn-near necessary than Twister. Starring Bill Paxton, Hellen Hunt, Jami Gertz, Cary Elwes, Alan Ruck, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the likable ensemble adds a much-needed dose of levity both between and during the weather-based chaos. It doesn’t have the strongest story around, but its technical feats remain impressive 25 years later, and if this is one you keep hearing about but have never checked out, HBO Max has you covered with this, one of its best action movies. 

Seven Samurai

Last go around I included the Akira Kurosawa classic Yojimbo, and with several of his samurai action-adventures on HBO Max, I figured I would include another, because you can never have enough Kurosawa, obviously. And if you’re going to watch any of the legendary filmmaker’s work, best make it Seven Samurai. This samurai epic is arguably his masterpiece among one of the strongest bodies of work from any director, filled with arresting visuals, spectacle, and general mastery in every department. Like The Godfather or The Sopranos, you don’t even need to have seen Seven Samurai to know it’s a title synonymous with quality. However, if you haven’t seen it, thank your lucky stars you can correct that with the simple click of a button. 

Speed Racer

Upon release in 2008 – in a summer that also featured Iron Man, The Dark Knight, and Tropic ThunderSpeed Racer was basically dead on arrival. The Wachowski’s vision to make what is basically a real-life anime didn’t settle well with critics and audiences, making it a critical and commercial failure. But thankfully we have time on our side, and with years passed for retrospective, it’s time to acknowledge something: This movie seriously rules. The visuals are as colorful and wild as they should be, and even if the kind of dialogue and performances aren’t your thing, there’s no denying everyone on board understood the assignment and set out to make something audiences had never seen before, which is far more that comes from most blockbusters today. If you hated it back in 2008, or have been too on the fence about giving it a shot, HBO Max is giving you a chance to take another look or give it the first go, and I suggest you take it…if you half 135 minutes to kill.  

The Warriors

Walter Hill’s 1979 action-thriller cult classic The Warriors remains compulsively watchable well over 40 years after release. Set in a New York where various bands of colorfully uniformed gangs dominate the streets, this propulsive flick finds the titular Warriors on the run back to their turf on Coney Island. Short, simple, tense, and with plenty of style, the movie is an excellent time capsule of the era, loaded with hard-hitting fights and more than a few eccentric characters.

Do you think these are some of the best action movies on HBO Max right now? 


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