With access to the Warner Media library, HBO Max features some of the biggest action movies around, from classics to recent blockbusters. Here are 10 great action movies to stream on HBO Max.
Update, 9/14/22: We’ve reviewed our choices and are still confident these are the best action movies you can watch on HBO Max right now.
Director Doug Liman and star Matt Damon launched a lucrative franchise with The Bourne Identity, based on the novels by Robert Ludlum. Damon plays Jason Bourne, a covert agent attempting to piece together his identity after he’s been shot and left for dead. As he recovers his memories, Bourne is pursued by the secret government agency he used to work for. Damon brings a more vulnerable, human element to the spy genre, and Liman stages thrilling action sequences whose gritty, intimate style influenced a whole generation of subsequent action movies.
Director McG brings his ’00s music video sensibilities to this adaptation of 1970s TV series Charlie’s Angels, combining the best of both cheesy, campy worlds. Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu play the three private detectives employed by the mysterious Charlie, who sends them on an absurd, colorful, action-filled adventure. The movie’s unabashed silliness is impossible to resist, with the three stars clearly having a fantastic time battling bad guys as well as just goofing off together.
Before becoming more and more cartoonish in various sequels—and an actual cartoon series—Sylvester Stallone’s Vietnam veteran John Rambo was a traumatized, misunderstood man just wanting to be left alone in First Blood. Rambo comes to a small Washington town hoping to see an old friend, but all he encounters is harassment from the sadistic local sheriff (Brian Dennehy).
Rambo eventually takes down the whole local police force using his battlefield skills, but most of the movie is a melancholy character study about the mistreatment of soldiers after they return home.
The so-called MonsterVerse of Warner Bros. monster movies has had a mixed track record, but it kicked off strongly with the 2014 reboot of Godzilla. The giant lizard’s second shot at an American franchise worked out much better than the first. Director Gareth Edwards brings a sense of grandeur and scale to the movie. The human characters (played by actors such as Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Olsen) are just interesting enough to keep the plot going, and Godzilla’s reign of destruction carries a real sense of devastation and danger.
Peter Jackson’s entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, based on the classic fantasy novels by J.R.R. Tolkien, is brilliant, but the most action-packed installment is the second film, The Two Towers. The main characters are split into various groups as they continue their quest to destroy the One Ring and defeat the evil Lord Sauron.
Jackson stages impressive action with all the different configurations of characters. The Battle of Helm’s Deep, a massive clash between armies, is awe-inspiring in its scope and one of the greatest action sequences ever created.
Director George Miller’s long-awaited sequel to his original Mad Max trilogy, Mad Max: Fury Road boils the series’ post-apocalyptic world down to its purest elements, essentially functioning as one long chase sequence. Tom Hardy stars as the grim, taciturn title character (replacing Mel Gibson), but it’s Charlize Theron as freedom fighter Furiosa who truly carries the movie.
Max and Furiosa battle each other and then team up to battle maniacal villain Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), who pursues them across the desert in a massive war caravan.
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The Wachowskis revolutionized filmmaking with their surprise 1999 pop-culture sensation The Matrix, which launched some mediocre sequels and a ton of forgettable imitators. But the original movie is still a blast, a heady sci-fi story about a seemingly average guy (Keanu Reeves) who discovers that the entirety of existence is a lie and that he may be humanity’s chosen savior. It’s also a fast-paced, fun action movie, utilizing groundbreaking technology in the service of the coolest fight scenes that the filmmakers can envision.
Sure, The Terminator is great, but James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day is one of the best sequels of all time. It enriches and expands on the world from the original movie, bringing back Arnold Schwarzenegger as the killer cyborg from the future—only this time, he’s sent back to protect Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and her son John (Edward Furlong), rather than eliminate them.
That mission falls to the T-1000 (Robert Patrick), a terrifying upgraded Terminator with shape-shifting abilities. Cameron blends large-scale action and sci-fi world-building with rich character details.
The second solo outing for Hugh Jackman as Marvel superhero Wolverine is much better than the first, playing to Jackman’s strengths and building on plot elements from the previous X-Men movies. The Wolverine also draws from some of the most famous Wolverine comic book stories, sending the brooding mutant to Japan to confront figures from his past.
Director James Mangold combines superhero action with a deeper emotional journey for the main character. Wolverine battles villains but also confronts his inner demons, and both elements are compelling.
HBO Max is full of DC superhero movies (thanks to shared parent company Warner Media), and Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman is the best of them, a fantastic big-screen introduction to the character played by Gal Gadot. Set during World War I, Wonder Woman features rousing action, including a spectacular sequence of the title character striding across the “no man’s land” area between opposing armies. It’s the high point of DC’s recent superhero feature films.
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