(Photo by Universal/Everett Collection.)

The Best Action Movies of 2021, Ranked by Tomatometer

Along with horror films like A Quiet Place Part II, action movies have been instrumental in demonstrating signs of vital life at the 2021 box office. Nobody made an unlikely commercial action hero out of Bob Odenkirk as theaters were re-opening, and afterwards, massive blockbusters like F9, Black Widow, and Godzilla vs. Kong drew huge crowds that approached pre-pandemic levels. On streaming, we’ve seen attention-grabbing hits like Hulu’s Boss Level, two Zack Snyder jams (Army of the Dead and his mythical director’s cut of Justice League), and Netflix’s Gunpowder Milkshake. And now we’ve collected every Fresh and Certified Fresh action movie from the year.(And don’t forget to check out our ongoing guides to the best horror movies of 2021, and the best movies of 2021.)

#28

The Vault (2021)
60%

#28
Adjusted Score: 60752%
Critics Consensus: Its runtime passes painlessly enough, but The Vault's slickly engineered thrills are dulled by familiarity.
Synopsis: Freddie Highmore ("The Good Doctor") and Famke Janssen (X-Men) star in this globe-trotting, action-packed thriller following a high-risk heist. When... [More]
Directed By: Jaume Balagueró

#27

The Protégé (2021)
61%

#27
Adjusted Score: 66481%
Critics Consensus: Maggie Q's still waiting for the action movie that really deserves her -- but until then, The Protégé hits just hard enough to satisfy.
Synopsis: Rescued as a child by the legendary assassin Moody (Samuel L. Jackson) and trained in the family business, Anna (Maggie... [More]
Directed By: Martin Campbell

#26
#26
Adjusted Score: 73780%
Critics Consensus: A squarely traditional '90s-style action thriller, Those Who Wish Me Dead is elevated by Taylor Sheridan's propulsive direction.
Synopsis: A smoke jumper and a traumatized boy fight for their lives as two relentless assassins pursue them through a raging... [More]
Directed By: Taylor Sheridan

#25

Jungle Cruise (2021)
62%

#25
Adjusted Score: 80728%
Critics Consensus: Its craft isn't quite as sturdy as some of the classic adventures it's indebted to, but Jungle Cruise remains a fun, family-friendly voyage.
Synopsis: Join fan favorites Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt for the adventure of a lifetime on Disney's JUNGLE CRUISE, a rollicking... [More]
Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra

#24
Adjusted Score: 69110%
Critics Consensus: Prisoners of the Ghostland is far from Sono's most distinctive work, but viewers in the mood for a deliriously gonzo genre mash-up featuring an explosive performance from Nicolas Cage just might have a ball.
Synopsis: In the treacherous frontier city of Samurai Town, a ruthless bank robber (Nicolas Cage) is sprung from jail by a... [More]
Directed By: Sion Sono

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: 81133%
Critics Consensus: If it lacks the original's bracingly original craft, The Matrix Resurrections revisits the world of the franchise with wit, a timely perspective, and heart.
Synopsis: To find out if his reality is a physical or mental construct, Mr. Anderson, aka Neo, will have to choose... [More]
Directed By: Lana Wachowski

#22

Wrath of Man (2021)
66%

#22
Adjusted Score: 79770%
Critics Consensus: Wrestling just enough stakes out of its thin plot, Wrath of Man sees Guy Ritchie and Jason Statham reunite for a fun, action-packed ride.
Synopsis: Mysterious and wild-eyed, a new security guard for a cash truck surprises his co-workers when he unleashes precision skills during... [More]
Directed By: Guy Ritchie

#21

Army Of The Dead (2021)
67%

#21
Adjusted Score: 82457%
Critics Consensus: An ambitious, over-the-top zombie heist mashup, Army of the Dead brings Zack Snyder back to his genre roots with a suitably gory splash.
Synopsis: From filmmaker Zack Snyder (300, Zack Snyder's Justice League), ARMY OF THE DEAD takes place following a zombie outbreak that... [More]
Directed By: Zack Snyder

#20

Space Sweepers (2021)
69%

#20
Adjusted Score: 69518%
Critics Consensus: As a story, Space Sweepers isn't as adventurous as its star-navigating protagonists -- but relatable characters and impressive effects keep it from drifting out of orbit.
Synopsis: After snatching a crashed space shuttle in the latest debris chase, Spaceship Victory's crew members find a 7-year-old girl inside.... [More]
Directed By: Jo Sung-hee

#19

Sentinelle (2021)
70%

#19
Adjusted Score: 40876%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Transferred home after a traumatizing combat mission, a highly trained French soldier uses her lethal skills to hunt down the... [More]
Directed By: Julien Leclercq

#18

Sentinelle (2021)
70%

#18
Adjusted Score: 40876%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Transferred home after a traumatizing combat mission, a highly trained French soldier uses her lethal skills to hunt down the... [More]
Directed By: Julien Leclercq

#17
Adjusted Score: 87804%
Critics Consensus: Zack Snyder's Justice League lives up to its title with a sprawling cut that expands to fit the director's vision -- and should satisfy the fans who willed it into existence.
Synopsis: In ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE, determined to ensure Superman's (Henry Cavill) ultimate sacrifice was not in vain, Bruce Wayne (Ben... [More]
Directed By: Zack Snyder

#16

Boss Level (2021)
74%

#16
Adjusted Score: 77787%
Critics Consensus: Boss Level powers up the increasingly crowded time-loop genre with a gleefully over-the-top sci-fi action thriller that revels in its own excess.
Synopsis: Trapped in a time loop that constantly repeats the day of his murder, former special forces agent Roy Pulver (Frank... [More]
Directed By: Joe Carnahan

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 95480%
Critics Consensus: Delivering squarely on its title, Godzilla vs. Kong swats away character development and human drama to deliver all the spectacle you'd expect from giant monsters slugging it out.
Synopsis: Legends collide in "Godzilla vs. Kong" as these mythic adversaries meet in a spectacular battle for the ages, with the... [More]
Directed By: Adam Wingard

#14
#14
Adjusted Score: 83475%
Critics Consensus: Part creature feature, part war movie, and part social commentary, Shadow in the Cloud doesn't always blend its ingredients evenly -- but it's frequently pulpy fun.
Synopsis: In the throes of World War II, Captain Maude Garrett (CHLOË GRACE MORETZ) joins the all-male crew of a B-17... [More]
Directed By: Roseanne Liang

#13

Black Widow (2021)
79%

#13
Adjusted Score: 103981%
Critics Consensus: Black Widow's deeper themes are drowned out in all the action, but it remains a solidly entertaining standalone adventure that's rounded out by a stellar supporting cast.
Synopsis: Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her... [More]
Directed By: Cate Shortland

#12

Blood Red Sky (2021)
80%

#12
Adjusted Score: 80751%
Critics Consensus: Blood Red Sky makes the most of its high-concept vampire story, delivering a fast-paced treat for genre enthusiasts.
Synopsis: When a group of terrorists hijacks an overnight transatlantic flight, a mysteriously ill woman must unleash a monstrous secret to... [More]
Directed By: Peter Thorwarth

#11

Free Guy (2021)
80%

#11
Adjusted Score: 95923%
Critics Consensus: Combining a clever concept, sweet, self-aware humor, and a charming cast, Free Guy is frivolous fun.
Synopsis: In "Free Guy," a bank teller who discovers he is actually a background player in an open-world video game, decides... [More]
Directed By: Shawn Levy

#10

Copshop (2021)
81%

#10
Adjusted Score: 86245%
Critics Consensus: It doesn't add many new ingredients to the genre, but action fans in the mood for an old-school thriller will be happy to buy what Copshop is selling.
Synopsis: On the run from a lethal assassin, a wily con artist devises a scheme to hide out inside a small-town... [More]
Directed By: Joe Carnahan

#9

Nobody (2021)
84%

#9
Adjusted Score: 98289%
Critics Consensus: Nobody doesn't break any new ground for the genre, but this viscerally violent thriller smashes, shatters, and destroys plenty of other things -- all while proving Bob Odenkirk has what it takes to be an action star.
Synopsis: Emmy winner Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul, The Post, Nebraska) stars as Hutch Mansell, an underestimated and overlooked dad and... [More]
Directed By: Ilya Naishuller

#8

No Time to Die (2021)
83%

#8
Adjusted Score: 105165%
Critics Consensus: It isn't the sleekest or most daring 007 adventure, but No Time to Die concludes Daniel Craig's franchise tenure in satisfying style.
Synopsis: In No Time To Die, Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. His peace... [More]
Directed By: Cary Joji Fukunaga

#7

Bajocero (2021)
88%

#7
Adjusted Score: 40615%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When a prisoner transfer van is attacked, the officer in charge must fight those inside and outside while dealing with... [More]
Directed By: Lluís Quílez

#6

Raging Fire (2021)
91%

#6
Adjusted Score: 92152%
Critics Consensus: Raging Fire forsakes character development to go all in on action -- and fortunately, writer-director Benny Chan Chi-Shun and star Donnie Yen are more than capable of delivering the goods.
Synopsis: Bong (Donnie Yen) is a highly respected hardline cop with a long history of success on dangerous cases. However, his... [More]
Directed By: Benny Chan

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 109416%
Critics Consensus: Enlivened by writer-director James Gunn's singularly skewed vision, The Suicide Squad marks a funny, fast-paced rebound that plays to the source material's violent, anarchic strengths.
Synopsis: Welcome to hell--a.k.a. Belle Reve, the prison with the highest mortality rate in the US of A. Where the worst... [More]
Directed By: James Gunn

#4
Adjusted Score: 109381%
Critics Consensus: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings isn't entirely free of Marvel's familiar formula, but this exciting origin story expands the MCU in more ways than one.
Synopsis: Marvel Studios' "Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings" stars Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, who must confront the past... [More]
Directed By: Destin Daniel Cretton

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 115936%
Critics Consensus: A bigger, bolder Spider-Man sequel, No Way Home expands the franchise's scope and stakes without losing sight of its humor and heart.
Synopsis: For the first time in the cinematic history of Spider-Man, our friendly neighborhood hero's identity is revealed, bringing his Super... [More]
Directed By: Jon Watts

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 102645%
Critics Consensus: A darkly humorous revenge thriller with satisfying depth and a dash of savory quirk, Riders of Justice makes another compelling case for Mads Mikkelsen as an all-purpose leading man.
Synopsis: RIDERS OF JUSTICE follows recently-deployed Markus (Mads Mikkelsen), who is forced to return home to care for his teenage daughter... [More]
Directed By: Anders Thomas Jensen

#1

The Paper Tigers (2020)
98%

#1
Adjusted Score: 100619%
Critics Consensus: The Paper Tigers blends action, comedy, and heart to produce a fresh martial arts movie with plenty of throwback charm.
Synopsis: Three martial artists--notorious in their prime as "the three tigers"--have grown into middle-aged men one kick from a pulled muscle.... [More]
Directed By: Quoc Bao Tran

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