The movies were officially back in 2023, and while every genre had solid offerings, it was really a big year for action movies. Almost every major action franchise of the past decade had a movie release this year, but which among them are the ones worth remembering now that the year has come and gone?
Out of a healthy lineup of options to choose from, CinemaBlend has narrowed down what feels like the most memorable and best action movies of 2023 we’ll look back on in years to come. Fortunately, a lot of these are already on streaming, so those trying to catch up on what all the year had to offer will be able to do relatively easy. Ranked from great to greatest, here are the top picks for the genre and the movies that had us on the edge of our seat from start to finish.
15. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem gave us more than high-flying thrills and fun action; we also saw turtles who felt like actual teens for the first time. With as much as this franchise has been rebooted, it feels like it has finally struck gold with this new style, which allows for a more stylized action that should justify a few sequels down the line. Also, with possibly one exception, it’s the funniest action movie on this list that’s fun for the whole family.
14. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
If you’re someone who missed out on Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, you’re not alone. The Chris Pine-led movie received no shortage of praise, which disappointed some like CinemaBlend’s Dirk Libbey that the box office numbers were so low. In any case, the commercial success shouldn’t deter anyone from checking this one out, especially if they’re a fan of the tabletop game. The usage of the Owlbear is a bit controversial, but beyond that, this is a pretty lore accurate movie.
13. The Equalizer 3
I’m not sure how many times a father and son have starred in two different action movies in the same year, but I’m sure glad it happened in 2023. Denzel Washington closed out his The Equalizer trilogy with a slightly gorier affair than previous installments, but an overall solid and accessible movie for newcomers and veterans to the franchise. It’s an action movie with Denzel Washington, and honestly, that should be all we really need to be satisfied.
12. The Mother
Jennifer Lopez isn’t exactly the first name people may think of when it comes to the action genre, but the actress certainly made a mark on the genre with The Mother. The movie climbed into Netflix’s Top 10 movies of all time, even if reviews were a bit divisive. CinemaBlend’s Sarah El-Mahmoud was someone who thoroughly enjoyed The Mother, and she put together an excellent write-up that justifies its placement on this list.
11. The Creator
Not to be outdone by his father, John David Washington also had an action film out this year, and coincidentally enough, critics opinions on The Creator were about as divisive as reactions to The Equalizer 3. In any case, those who loved the sci-fi movie from Gareth Edwards found the Rogue One director’s latest feature visually stunning. The Creator may not be the most original premise in Hollywood, but let’s be honest, that could be said about 90% of sci-fi and action movies. This is one to watch for those looking for visual spectacle and possibly a change of pace compared to some of the grittier movies on this lineup.
Gerard Butler and Mike Colter make for the action duo I didn’t know I needed in 2023, and man, is it so sweet to see them together in action. When a plane is forced to make an emergency landing on an island ravaged by war, a pilot must work alongside a suspected homicide fugitive to save the passengers from a rebel leader. It may not have a name that screams action, but Plane is one to watch.
9. Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny
Harrison Ford returned to Indiana Jones for what’s said be the last hurrah for his iteration of the character. It’s the classic fun of Indiana Jones fighting Nazis and chocked full of moments like the Tangier chase scene that emulate some of the best moments from the past of the franchise. While Ford is unlikely to return after Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, director James Mangold revealed the final scene indicated that Jones as a character is never really finished. The movie is available right now with a Disney+ subscription for those who missed out on seeing it in theaters.
The sequel to Extraction had a lot to live up to, and I believe it delivered on a lot of what was expected. Personally, it inspired me to advocate for more of Chris Hemsworth in action movies, and less of him in the MCU as Thor. Some would knock Extraction 2 over the original for leaning more on the action than story, but for someone who saw this as popcorn entertainment from the get-go, I thought it was even better.
7. Kill Boksoon
Netflix has a solid offering in Kill Boksoon, which may be the best South Korean action movie I’ve seen in quite a while. While I think it’s a common trope that assassins struggle to balance a normal life with killing for a living, it’s probably the easiest trope in action movies to believe. Watching Gil Bok-soon bounce between being a caring mother and cold-hearted killer is amazing, especially with the John Wick influence that radiates throughout this foreign film. This entry also has the option to watch with subtitles or dubbed English, and I truly believe either are worth doing for anyone who wants to see a great action movie.
6. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning
Tom Cruise is still going strong as Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning, and while its ending left things off on a cliffhanger, the setup is worth the price of admission. I mean, are we going to sit here and act like Tom Cruise hasn’t been one of the masters of the action genre for a majority of his career? No one can be Ethan Hunt like he can, and the clock is winding down on just how many more of these we can enjoy. Enjoy the ride and stay on the edge of that seat for Mission: Impossible 8.
5. The Killer
Don’t let the slow start to this movie deter, David Fincher’s Netflix movie is definitely an action film. With that being said, it travels at a slower and more deliberate pace than other entries on the list, but the stellar cast led by Michael Fassbender is well worth the wait for what evolves into one of the most exciting revenge movies I’ve seen in quite a while. My only complaint would be that I felt like I didn’t get enough Tilda Swinton in The Killer, but I think I could probably say that about all of her movies.
4. Polite Society
Polite Society stands out as a real genre-breaker in the 2023 options, as it presents an original premise that demands the attention of anyone who has not watched it yet. It’s a coming-of-age comedy about a British-Pakistani teen who wants to be a stuntwoman and is worried her older sister is marrying into the wrong family. From there, we’re treated to a visual spectacle of martial arts performed in flowing dresses, lots of hijinks and so much more we wouldn’t see in a standard run-of-the-mill action movie. CinemaBlend’s Sarah El-Mahmoud absolutely loved Polite Society, and I would wager anyone else who decides to check out the movie will feel the same about it as well.
3. Fast X
We all know what’s up at this point. The Fast & Furious franchise may not be the most thought-provoking cinema you’ll see, but it didn’t reach ten movies, plus one spinoff, by being a boring action franchise. Adding Jason Momoa to the mix really injected some life into Fast X, and knowing he’ll be around for the next and making some changes to the character has me pumped for what’s next. It’s getting sad to think about this long-running franchise has an endgame in mind that’s being planned.
It’s not often we hear the term “Finnish action film” but Sisu falls in that category, and damn, does it deliver. An ex-Finnish soldier has a change of fortune when he finds a gold vein, but his good fortune is quickly turned by Nazi soldiers who try to take it for themselves. This is one of those action movies that is over-the-top violent and maybe a tad unrealistic at points with some of its deaths, or at least I hope that’s the case. Nevertheless, those who love fast-paced action, and some cringe-inducing violence are going to be on board with this great movie.
1. John Wick: Chapter 4
John Wick has been the gold standard for action movies for quite a while, so it’s no surpirse the fourth installment made the top list for 2023. CinemaBlend’s Eric Eisenberg gave John Wick: Chapter 4 4.5 out of 5 stars in his review, noting that the exceptionally long run-time is justified. It’s top-tier action from start to finish, and it has me on high alert for the possibility of a fifth movie happening.
2023 was a big year for action movies, but overall, there were a ton of great films that are worth looking back on. Continue to check out CinemaBlend as we run through some of the other top choices from genres this year and remember a year in movies that I believe will have people talking for a long time.