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The 5 best action movies of 2023 so far

If there’s one genre that audiences never seem to get tired of, it’s action movies. By comparison, there haven’t been many big-screen comedies, sci-fi adventures, or fantasy flicks in 2023. But action films are in abundance, both in the streaming realm and in theaters. If you happen to love action like we do, this is a very good thing. And some of the action movies that hit theaters this year may be among the best of the last 10 years.

It may be a little premature to name any film as the best action movie of this year. But since we are currently almost seven-and-a-half months through the year, we can confidently say that the following films are the five best action movies of 2023 so far.

5. Extraction 2

Chris Hemsworth in Extraction 2.

Do you know how you can tell that Extraction did really well for Netflix? Because Netflix coughed up the money to bring Chris Hemsworth back for the sequel even though his character, Tyler Rake, looked pretty dead at the end of the original film. Extraction 2 finds Tyler briefly out of the mercenary game while he recovers from his ordeal, only to be drawn into a new mission because the woman he’s been hired to save, Ketevan Radiani (Tinatin Dalakishvili), is the sister of his ex-wife. So she’s kind of like family.

And family is the real issue at the heart of Extraction 2, since Tyler’s efforts to get Ketevan and her children away from her dangerous husband, Davit Raidani (Tornike Bziava), results in Davit’s death. This attracts the attention of Davit’s even more deranged brother, Zurab Radiani (Tornike Gogrichiani), who comes after Tyler and his team for payback of his own.

Watch Extraction 2 on Netflix.

4. Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant

Jake Gyllenhaal in The Covenant.

Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant had the misfortune to arrive in theaters just when The Super Mario Bros. Movie was sucking all of the air out of the box office. A similar phenomenon is currently playing out thanks to Barbenheimer. Regardless, Ritchie crafted one of this year’s best action thrillers with the story of Master Sgt. John Kinley (Jake Gyllenhaal), and his Afghan interpreter, Ahmed Abdullah Yousfi (Dar Salim).

During the waning years of the war in Afghanistan, Kinley is badly injured by a Taliban ambush. And despite great risk to himself, Ahmed leads the wounded Kinley to safety. However, Ahmed and his family are denied the visas that could save them from the vengeful Taliban. Enraged at the injustice of leaving Ahmed behind, Kinley returns to Afghanistan to repay the favor he owes to the man who saved his life.

Rent or buy The Covenant on Prime Video, Apple TV+, Google Play, and YouTube.

3. Fast X

Vin Diesel as Dom Toretto stands in front of the Coliseum in Fast X.
Universal Pictures

In the latest installment of the Fast & Furious movies, a bad guy who looks remarkably like Aquaman, Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa), targets Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and “the family.” So just know that a lot of car carnage goes down in Fast X. And Dante isn’t just another run-of-the-mill would-be James Bond villain.

He puts his plans in motion long before Dom and his wife, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), realize that everyone they know and love is in danger. To survive this threat, Dom is going to need the help of his estranged brother, Jacob Toretto (John Cena), as well as a few of his former enemies.

Buy Fast X on Prime Video, Apple TV+, Google Play, and YouTube.

2. John Wick: Chapter 4

John Wick loads his gun in John Wick: Chapter 4.

John Wick: Chapter 4 delivers something that Fast X and the latest Mission: Impossible movie could not: An ending. After John Wick (Keanu Reeves) escalates his personal war against the High Table, the organization steps up the pressure on John himself by casting out his friend, Winston Scott (Ian McShane), and sending two of the most lethal assassins in the world after John: Caine (Donnie Yen) and Mr. Nobody (Shamier Anderson).

One of the High Table’s most prominent members, the Marquis Vincent Bisset de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård), also makes it his personal goal to see John dead, which opens the door for an intriguing way for John to finally free himself from the criminal underworld. But to do so, John will have to face an army of trained killers from around the world just for the chance to find peace.

Rent or buy John Wick: Chapter 4 on Prime Video, Apple TV+, Google Play, and YouTube.

1. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

Tom Cruise and Hayley Atwell turn around in a small car, looking concerned.
Paramount Pictures / Paramount Pictures

Did you know that Tom Cruise is 61? He still runs like a much younger man in Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, and once again personally performs some potentially dangerous stunts on-screen. Cruise and his frequent Mission: Impossible collaborator, writer and director Christopher McQuarrie, always seem to be intent on topping the previous film’s action sequences, and this is by far the best action movie of 2023 to date.

This time, the story ventures into full sci-fi territory when Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his IMF team become aware of The Entity, a sentient AI program that is well on its way to controlling the world, if it doesn’t already. Complicating Ethan’s quest to destroy The Entity is Grace (Agent Carter‘s Hayley Atwell), an enigmatic thief who has her own agenda. Atwell really steals the movie and steps up to become the new female lead of the series while holding her own opposite Cruise. Given the relatively light movie schedule for the rest of the year, it’s hard to see another film that can take Dead Reckoning Part One‘s action crown before the end of this year.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is now playing in theaters.

Blair Marnell
Blair Marnell has been an entertainment journalist for over 15 years. His bylines have appeared in Wizard Magazine, Geek…
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