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.
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Kurt Russell has played numerous iconic tough guys in his career, but Snake Plissken in John Carpenter’s Escape From New York may be the quintessential Russell role. The gruff, eye-patched convict Plissken is dispatched into a future Manhattan that’s been walled off as a prison.
His mission is to rescue the daughter of the U.S. president, who’s been kidnapped by terrorists within the prison. Plissken fights off all manner of degenerates while maintaining his detached cool and making sure that he comes out on top, no matter which side prevails.
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.
Director Edgar Wright and stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost pay tribute to ridiculous action movies as much as they parody them in the action-comedy Hot Fuzz. Pegg plays a hyper-competent big-city cop who’s been relegated to a backwater town and partnered with an overenthusiastic local (Frost). But the pair uncover surprisingly sinister activities in the seemingly sleepy village, giving them the opportunity for car chases, gun battles, and all the cool stuff they’ve seen in the action movies they love.
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.
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.
The high concept for Speed is the perfect balance between brilliant and stupid: A madman places a bomb on a city bus, which must maintain a speed of above 50 miles per hour or the bomb will explode. Keanu Reeves plays the LAPD bomb squad officer attempting to stop the attack, and Sandra Bullock (in her breakout role) plays the passenger he relies on. The action is literally in constant motion as the bus never stops or slows down, steadily escalating the tension for the entire running time.
Steven Seagal has made so many terrible movies over the past couple of decades that it can be hard to remember that he was once a top-notch action star. Under Siege is Seagal’s greatest achievement, offering him the chance to show off his fighting skills within the framework of a mainstream thriller.
Seagal plays a former Navy SEAL working as a cook, who must fend off a terrorist attack aboard a decommissioned Navy ship. Tommy Lee Jones makes for a great villain, and the movie takes advantage of its isolated single location.
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.
After the X-Men series sort of petered out with its initial trilogy, director Matthew Vaughn revitalized the franchise with prequel X-Men: First Class. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender take over as younger versions of mutant frenemies Professor X and Magneto, respectively, and the 1960s period setting gives the movie a fresh visual style. Vaughn delivers plenty of exciting superhero action alongside a character-driven story that fueled several more entries in the series.
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