There’s no need to pay for a streaming subscription to get your action-movie fix. Free streaming services have plenty of action-packed movies from a variety of eras and subgenres. Here are the best action movies to stream for free.
Update, 9/8/22: We’ve reviewed our picks and are still confident these are the best action movies available to stream for free right now.
Before The Hunger Games, there was the Japanese movie Battle Royale. It’s also about a future in which school-age kids are pitted against each other in deadly games, with only one emerging as the victor. Director Kinji Fukasaku stages some brutal fights between the students, keeping the focus almost entirely on the island where a high school class has been trapped and forced into combat.
Banned in some countries for years, Battle Royale is equally thrilling and nasty, a demented dystopian vision that makes the audience root for innocent children to fight and kill.
Kevin James fighting a 13-year-old girl doesn’t necessarily sound like the formula for a successful action movie, but the filmmakers behind Becky pull it off remarkably well. James is surprisingly convincing as the menacing leader of a gang of neo-Nazis, who take young Becky (Lulu Wilson) and her family hostage at their vacation house.
The gang is looking for an unspecified hidden item in the house, and they’re willing to torture and kill everyone in order to get it. Becky escapes and mounts a counterattack that’s part Rambo, part Home Alone, in a creative and often gruesome battle to the death.
Becky is streaming for free via local libraries on Hoopla.
The third movie in the initial Jason Bourne trilogy, The Bourne Ultimatum continues the story of the title character (Matt Damon) and his efforts to bring down the shadowy organizations that trained him as a secret agent. The twisty plot takes place essentially in the margins of the second movie, adding new dimensions to the conspiracy, with David Strathairn as the latest ruthless functionary tracking Bourne.
Director Paul Greengrass delivers more of his signature intimate, immersive action, including a tense, inventive sequence of Bourne attempting to guide a journalist past dangerous forces.
The Bourne Ultimatum is streaming for free with ads on Tubi.
Chinese director Zhang Yimou combines martial arts action with lush, painterly visuals in Hero. Set in China during the third century BC, the movie follows a nameless warrior who claims to have thwarted a conspiracy to assassinate the king of one of the country’s warring states.
Zhang assembles a cast of martial arts all-stars, including Jet Li, Donnie Yen, and Zhang Ziyi, along with Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung, who are better known for their dramatic work. He delivers sweeping historical drama plus elaborately staged fight sequences, the hallmarks of the wuxia genre.
Immortal warriors battle across the centuries in director Russell Mulcahy’s bombastic action fantasy. With its soundtrack full of Queen arena-rock anthems, Highlander sometimes comes across like a two-hour music video, in only the best ways. Christopher Lambert plays one of the last of the eternal combatants, living in modern-day New York City and preparing for a final battle with his longtime enemy. As the lore goes, “there can be only one,” so the two must fight to the death—which can only be achieved via decapitation. It’s an over-the-top epic that launched a franchise full of dense mythology.
An early breakout role for Jean-Claude Van Damme, Kickboxer is undeniably silly, but it’s a fantastic showcase for the martial-arts skills that made Van Damme into a superstar. Van Damme co-wrote the story and choreographed the fights, creating a perfect vehicle for his talents. He plays an American kickboxer out for revenge after his brother was paralyzed in a fight. Van Damme’s Kurt Sloane participates in awesomely cheesy training montages as he prepares to take on the corrupt Thai fighter who crippled his brother.
The original Mad Max is surprisingly slow and subdued for a post-apocalyptic thriller, but this sequel delivers on the action that viewers are likely to expect from the franchise. Most of Mad Max‘s familiar imagery comes from this movie, featuring the return of Mel Gibson as the title character, a renegade cop in a lawless future.
Max roams the desolate outback, which is overrun by gangs of leather-clad marauders, and he eventually comes to the aid of a small group transporting gasoline. The minimal plot is mainly an excuse for director George Miller to stage gnarly car chases and scrappy action set pieces.
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior is streaming for free with ads on Tubi.
Thai martial arts star Tony Jaa burst onto the scene with this kinetic showcase for his talents. The plot is rudimentary, starring Jaa as a villager who travels to Bangkok to recover a stolen statue, taking on a variety of thugs and criminals in the process. The simple story provides room for Jaa to practice his dazzling Muay Thai moves, in a form of martial arts that had rarely been highlighted onscreen before this movie. Jaa and director Prachya Pinkaew use slow motion and multiple camera angles to make sure each amazing stunt can be fully appreciated.
There’s more than just action going on in Denis Villeneuve’s complex crime thriller Sicario, but when the action shows up, it’s tense and explosive. Emily Blunt plays an FBI agent who gets in over her head when she joins a CIA task force to track a Mexican drug lord. She finds herself caught between larger forces, working to navigate a dangerous situation in which she’s constantly underestimated.
The plotting is dense, but the action is immediate and visceral, especially in a bravura shootout in the middle of a traffic jam at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Sicario is streaming for free with ads on The Roku Channel.
RELATED: The 10 Best Action Movies on Hulu
When director J.J. Abrams rebooted the long-running sci-fi franchise with a new timeline and a new take on the classic characters, he put the action front and center. Abrams provides a new origin story for the crew of the starship Enterprise, pitting them against a Romulan villain from an alternate universe, played by Eric Bana. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto make for a perfect pair as the new Kirk and Spock, and Abrams delivers thrilling action set pieces along with Trek‘s signature heady sci-fi.
Star Trek is streaming for free with ads on Pluto TV.
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