The Best Action Movies of 2019

What is the state of the action movie in 2019? You could say they’ve never been stronger: They generate all the hype and they break all the records – we just call them superhero movies these days. But for this guide to the best action movies of 2019, we stick with a more pure strain of action filmmaking, whose lineage you can trace back to the ’80s and early ’90s heyday. It’s a world of tough guys (Shaft) and tougher women (Anna), of martial artists (Shadow), vigilantes (Miss Bala), and assassins (John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum). In deciding what qualifies as an “action movie,” we not only left those newfangled superhero movies to mingle with their own crowd, but the same went for genre hybrids like Alita: Battle Angel, which will go into the best sci-fi movies of 2019 list, launching next week. Otherwise, the action movie needed only to cross a 20-review threshold to be included in this guide, which ranks the best alongside the worst.

And now with more high-adrenaline pleasures like Gemini Man, Angel Has Fallen, Rambo: Last Blood hitting theaters, take a look back with a blast from the recent past with the best (and worst!) action movies of 2019 so far!

Updated 11/25: 21 Bridges

Best Movies of 2019 | Best Horror Movies of 2019
Best Comedies of 2019 | Best Sci-Fi Movies of 2019
Best Action Movies of 2019


Miss Bala (2019)

Adjusted Score: 27419%
Critics Consensus: Miss Bala suggests Gina Rodriguez has a future as an action hero; unfortunately, it also demonstrates how hard it is to balance set pieces against a compelling story.
Synopsis: Young Gloria seeks help from the police when cartel hit men kidnap her friend from a nightclub in Mexico. She... [More]
Directed By: Catherine Hardwicke


Gemini Man (2019)

Adjusted Score: 45941%
Critics Consensus: Gemini Man's impressive visuals are supported by some strong performances, but this sci-fi thriller is fatally undermined by a frustratingly subpar story.
Synopsis: Henry Brogan is an elite 51-year-old assassin who's ready to call it quits after completing his 72nd job. His plans... [More]
Directed By: Ang Lee

Adjusted Score: 36293%
Critics Consensus: Like the sequels that preceded it, Rambo: Last Blood is content to indulge in bloody violence at the expense of its main character's once-poignant story.
Synopsis: Vietnam War veteran John Rambo tries to find some semblance of peace by raising horses on a ranch in Arizona.... [More]
Directed By: Adrian Grunberg


Into the Ashes (2019)

Adjusted Score: 30313%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Nick is an ex-con who's adjusting to a new job, a new wife and some semblance of normalcy in rural... [More]
Directed By: Aaron Harvey


Primal (2019)

Adjusted Score: 38019%
Critics Consensus: Chiefly of interest to Nicolas Cage completists and hardcore B-movie fans, this action thriller suffers from an unfortunate lack of Primal energy.
Synopsis: Hunter and collector Frank Walsh expects a big payday after bagging a priceless white jaguar for a zoo. But the... [More]
Directed By: Nicholas Powell


Shaft (2019)

Adjusted Score: 40533%
Critics Consensus: Decades removed from the original, this multi-generational Shaft struggles to keep its characters interesting -- or anything other than uncomfortably outdated.
Synopsis: John Shaft Jr. may be an FBI cyber security expert, but to uncover the truth behind his best friend's untimely... [More]
Directed By: Tim Story


Anna (2019)

Adjusted Score: 36662%
Critics Consensus: Anna finds writer-director Luc Besson squarely in his wheelhouse, but fans of this variety of stylized action have seen it all done before -- and better.
Synopsis: Beneath a woman's striking beauty lies a secret that will unleash her indelible strength and skill to become one of... [More]
Directed By: Luc Besson


Angel Has Fallen (2019)

Adjusted Score: 49474%
Critics Consensus: Cut from the same rough cloth as its predecessors, Angel Has Fallen rounds out a mostly forgettable action trilogy in fittingly mediocre fashion.
Synopsis: Authorities take Secret Service agent Mike Banning into custody for the failed assassination attempt of U.S. President Allan Trumbull. After... [More]
Directed By: Ric Roman Waugh


Midway (2019)

Adjusted Score: 52093%
Critics Consensus: Midway revisits a well-known story with modern special effects and a more balanced point of view, but its screenplay isn't quite ready for battle.
Synopsis: On Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese forces launch a devastating attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. naval base in Hawaii. Six... [More]
Directed By: Roland Emmerich


The Kid (2019)

Adjusted Score: 45018%
Critics Consensus: Well-framed, well-cast, and well-intentioned, The Kid still largely fails to set itself apart from the multitude of other westerns covering similar territory.
Synopsis: In 1879 Rio and his teenage sister go on the run across the American Southwest to escape from their violent... [More]
Directed By: Vincent D'Onofrio


21 Bridges (2019)

Adjusted Score: 61060%
Critics Consensus: 21 Bridges covers its beat competently enough, but given its impressive cast, this cop thriller should be more arresting than it is.
Synopsis: After uncovering a massive conspiracy, an embattled NYPD detective joins a citywide manhunt for two young cop killers. As the... [More]
Directed By: Brian Kirk


Black and Blue (2019)

Adjusted Score: 56237%
Critics Consensus: Black and Blue is elevated by Naomie Harris' central performance, even if the end result suffers from a simplistic treatment of topical themes.
Synopsis: A rookie policewoman in New Orleans inadvertently captures the shooting death of a young drug dealer on her body cam.... [More]
Directed By: Deon Taylor

Adjusted Score: 88516%
Critics Consensus: Hobbs & Shaw doesn't rev as high as the franchise's best installments, but gets decent mileage out of its well-matched stars and over-the-top action sequences.
Synopsis: Brixton Lorr is a cybernetically enhanced soldier who possesses superhuman strength, a brilliant mind and a lethal pathogen that could... [More]
Directed By: David Leitch


Triple Threat (2019)

Adjusted Score: 67167%
Critics Consensus: Triple Threat might have made better use of its attention-getting cast, but action fans should still find the end results entertaining enough to rate a rental.
Synopsis: A crime syndicate places a hit on a billionaire's daughter, making her the target of an elite assassin squad. A... [More]
Directed By: Jesse V. Johnson


Cold Pursuit (2019)

Adjusted Score: 79210%
Critics Consensus: Cold Pursuit delivers the action audiences expect from a Liam Neeson thriller -- along with humor and a sophisticated streak that make this an uncommonly effective remake.
Synopsis: Nels Coxman's quiet life as a snowplow driver comes crashing down when his beloved son dies under mysterious circumstances. His... [More]
Directed By: Hans Petter Moland


Triple Frontier (2019)

Adjusted Score: 77993%
Critics Consensus: An outstanding cast and ambitious story help Triple Frontier overcome an uneven narrative -- and elevate the end result above a crowded field of grim and gritty heist thrillers.
Synopsis: Former Special Forces operatives reunite to plan a heist in a sparsely populated multi-border zone of South America. For the... [More]
Directed By: J.C. Chandor

Adjusted Score: 90494%
Critics Consensus: Master Z: Ip Man Legacy marks a departure from previous entries in the franchise -- but its thrilling action set pieces remain every bit as satisfying.
Synopsis: Defeated by Master Ip, martial arts expert Cheung Tin Chi tries to lead a normal life in Hong Kong until... [More]
Directed By: Yuen Wo Ping

Adjusted Score: 110173%
Critics Consensus: John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum reloads for another hard-hitting round of the brilliantly choreographed, over-the-top action that fans of the franchise demand.
Synopsis: After gunning down a member of the High Table -- the shadowy international assassin's guild -- legendary hit man John... [More]
Directed By: Chad Stahelski


Shadow (2018)

Adjusted Score: 99758%
Critics Consensus: Beautifully filmed and inventively choreographed, Shadow is a thrilling and visually sumptuous wuxia epic that finds director Zhang Yimou near peak form.
Synopsis: To finally achieve victory over a rival kingdom, a brilliant general devises an intricate plan involving his wife, a look-alike... [More]
Directed By: Yimou Zhang

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