John Wick revitalized the action genre when it hit cinemas in 2014. The action revenge thriller resulted in many imitations, but not many movies released that were like John Wick lived up to the hype. Directed by former stuntman Chad Stahelski and written by Derek Kolstad, the film is a high-tempo action flick chock full of intense fight scenes and a pumping soundtrack.
Keanu Reeves stars as the titular hero. A former assassin for hire who left the business for love, Wick is now grieving the loss of his wife who recently passed. When a gang of thugs breaks into his house, steals his car, and kills his puppy (a final gift from his deceased wife), Reeves returns to his murdering ways as he seeks revenge against those who wronged him.
While the plot sounds simple, the mythology surrounding Wick (also known as Baba Yaga – The Boogeyman) and The Continental, a hotel where assassins take refuge, creates another level of intrigue. The cast is also spectacular, with Reeves joined by the likes of Willem Dafoe, Alfie Allen, Ian McShane, Dean Winters, John Leguizamo, Lance Reddick, and Michael Nyqvist as Russian mobster Viggo Tarasov.
As one of the most successful action movies of the past decade, John Wick has spawned two sequels – John Wick: Chapter 2 and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, with another, John Wick: Chapter 4, set for release in 2023. While patient fans wait for the arrival of the fourth film, we thought we’d compile a list of the best action movies like John Wick you can enjoy from the comfort of home. These movies cover a wide range of genres but are all excellent movies sure to satisfy your action cravings.
16 Action Packed Movies Like John Wick
The Equalizer (2014)
Denzel Washington kicks ass in this reimagining of the hit 80s TV series. Directed by Training Day helmer Antoine Fuqua, The Equalizer reunites Washington and Fuqua for 132 minutes of gory action.
Washington is Robert McCall, a quiet man who works at a hardware store by day and spends his evenings reading at his local diner. When he meets a young prostitute and tries to buy out her contract from the Russian mob, he gets laughed at. Unimpressed with their response, McCall resorts to violence, setting off a chain of events that leads to a bloody showdown in the hardware store he works at.
Washington is in great form as the avenging angel who also helps several other people with their problems throughout the movie. Similar to John Wick, The Equalizer relies on its star to carry the film, with Washington perfect as the problem-solving McCall. The film was a big hit with audiences, resulting in a 2018 sequel and the announcement of a third film set for release in 2023.
What was initially seen as a low-budget action movie turned into one of the biggest films of 2008. Taken turned Liam Neeson into an action star and led to a slew of similar films starring aging actors as action heroes. Neeson is a retired CIA operative whose daughter is kidnapped by human traffickers while on holiday in Paris. Using his special set of skills, Neeson chases the criminals all across Paris as he tries to save his only child.
What could have been a direct-to-video release made $226 million at the box office and helped boost the action movie genre. Neeson’s popularity has never been higher since the movie’s release, with the Irish actor reprising the role for two more films, both of which fail to live up to the original.
Atomic Blonde (2017)
Charlize Theron has gone the action route of late. Along with starring as baddie Cipher in the Fast and Furious franchise and Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road, the talented actress also took on the role of an undercover spy in Atomic Blonde. Directed by David Leitch, who co-directed John Wick with Chad Stahelski but wasn’t credited, Atomic Blonde is set during the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Theron plays an MI6 spy who is sent deep undercover to retrieve The List, a missing document containing the names of every intelligence agent for both the English and KGB. Throw in multiple double crosses, spectacular shoot-outs, and a cast that includes John Goodman, James McAvoy, and Til Schweiger, and you have yourself a great Saturday night movie. The soundtrack is also killer.
Jack Reacher (2012)
Fans were up in arms when Tom Cruise was cast as Jack Reacher, the main character in Lee Child’s thrilling series of crime novels. While Reacher is meant to be over six foot five inches with blonde hair and a sturdy build, Cruis is five foot seven inches with dark hair and an average build. Despite reservations, Cruise pulls it off in this fun action movie.
Reacher is a former major in the military police who wanders America helping solve various crimes. He gets dragged into a murder case and soon finds himself the target of both a Soviet criminal and the police as he tries to solve the killing and clear his name.
Jack Reacher is a solid action movie fans of Cruise will love. The sequel, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, didn’t do as well as the original, ending any more big-screen Reacher adventures. But if you want more of the smart crime solver, give the Amazon series a crack. It’s much more faithful to the books, with the lead actor Alan Ritchson a much better representation of Reacher physically.
Kill Bill: Volume 1 & Kill Bill: Volume 2
Including two films together might be seen as cheating, but as these movies are meant to be watched as one epic revenge thriller, it’s only fair they share a spot on this list. Quentin Tarantino followed up his first book adaptation, Jackie Brown, with this original martial arts fiesta starring Uma Thurman as The Bride.
Left for dead by her former lover Bill and the group of assassins she used to work with, The Bride wakes four years later and embarks on a blood-thirsty quest for vengeance. As this is a Tarantino film, it’s a little different. Both movies borrow from a stack of classic revenge and martial arts movies, with Tarantino adding his own spin.
Thurman is perfectly cast as The Bride, who travels across the world taking down her former allies one by one before a final confrontation with Bill. These films have it all, from The Bride’s gory battle against O-Ren Ishii and the Crazy 88 in Kill Bill: Volume 1 to training flashbacks and death by poisonous snake in Kill Bill: Volume 2. Simply superb.
Man on Fire (2004)
Denzel Washington makes his second appearance with the action blockbuster Man on Fire. While it might not be as action-heavy as John Wick, this movie shares similar themes about a man seeking vengeance against those who have wronged him. In this case, Washinton is John Creasy, an alcoholic former CIA operative working as a bodyguard in Mexico. When the child he is meant to protect is taken, he sets off on a warpath of destruction to get her back.
This movie has everything you want from this type of revenge thriller, with Washington using his special skills to track down those responsible. Based on the novel of the same name, it stays fairly close to the source material, with director Tony Scott’s colorful flair and frenetic editing style only adding to the greatness of this movie.
The Bourne Identity (2002)
In the same way that the John Wick franchise redefined the action film for the late 00s, The Bourne Identity did the same for the early 00s. Casting Matt Damon as amnesic spy Jason Bourne was a masterstroke, with the former dramatic actor turning himself into a one-man fighting machine.
The film follows Bourne as he journeys across Europe trying to discover his true identity while uncovering a government conspiracy involving a secret American Black Ops operation.
Praised for its realistic action sequences, eye-opening set pieces, and intelligent storyline (thanks to Robert Ludlum’s book it’s based upon), The Bourne Identity was a major box office success, resulting in four sequels (one starring Jeremy Renner instead of Damon) and a spin-off television series.
Nobody can accuse Steven Soderbergh of being a boring filmmaker. The man responsible for the Ocean’s trilogy, biographical drama Erin Brockovich, and stripper comedy Magic Mike, never sticks to one genre and is always keen to tackle a wide range of subjects. That’s why his overlooked action film Haywire shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
The film stars former MMA fighter, Gina Carano, as a black ops operative who becomes the target of assassins. Searching for answers leads her down the path of a government conspiracy and yada yada, you know the rest. While the plot is nothing new, Soderbergh handles the action sequences well and manages to assemble an incredible cast, many of who only pop up for one or two scenes.
Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, and Michael Douglas all feature alongside Carano, who more than holds her own. Haywire is a great action film worth a few hours of your time.
Hardcore Henry (2012)
This movie is similar to John Wick thanks to its brilliant action scenes. Shot in the first person, Hardcore Henry is jam-packed with action at the expense of a decent storyline and character development. It’s like watching a video game, as the main character Henry finds himself pursued by the psychokinetic villain Akan.
As mentioned, there isn’t much plot-wise, but the action is great and the first-person gimmick interesting. Sharlto Copley pops up as Henry’s body double throughout while Tim Roth has a small cameo.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead gives it her best shot as an action star in the Netflix Original Kate. Surprisingly she pulls it off playing an assassin who wants out of the killing game. After a botched job, Winstead discovers she has been poisoned and only has one day left to live. Using her remaining time to track down those responsible, Kate goes on the warpath through a neon-drenched Toyko.
While it’s fair to say the plot is nothing new and follows tried and tested tropes, this is a visually arresting movie with bright colors and fantastic cinematography. Winstead, along with Woody Harrelson, are great, helping elevate this standard revenge thriller.
This ultra-violent action movie is on par with John Wick when it comes to martial arts. Indonesian actor Iko Uwais is cared for by Dr. Ailin after waking up with amnesia. When Dr. Ailin is threatened by local gangsters and then kidnapped, Uwais takes matters into his own hands and sets off to get her back while taking the criminals down.
This is everything you want from a modern-day martial arts film. While there is enough plot to keep most happy, it’s the action sequences that really get the juices flowing. Directed by the Mo Brothers, who have since gone on to have their own solo success, Headshot is another action-packed movie sure to appease fans of Keanu Reeves’ ass-kicking John Wick.
Following the blueprint set by Taken, this 2021 movie stars another old actor kicking ass and taking names. Bob Odenkirk, better known for his comedy roles and playing Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, is an ordinary fella who works a boring job and lives with his wife and two kids.
When an incident at home causes him to revert to his old self, Odenkirk soon finds himself the target of the Russian mob. Forced to defend his family and his honor, Odenkirk turns into a ruthless killing machine who will stop at nothing to bring down those trying to end his life.
There is action aplenty in Nobody, with Odenkirk surprisingly believable as a former assassin turned father and office worker. Mixing graphic violence with moments of comedy, Nobody is another movie like John Wick that will satisfy your action cravings.
The Mechanic (2011)
A remake of the 1972 Charles Bronson film, The Mechanic stars Jason Statham as hitman Arthur Bishop. Known for making his killings appear to be accidents or suicides, Bishop is contracted to kill his mentor after he failed a hit. Fulfilling the job, he then begins to train his mentor’s son, Steve McKenna, as some form of penance, but things go haywire when secrets are revealed, eventually pitting Bishop against McKenna.
This is the type of movie the Stath can do in his sleep. Joined by Ben Foster, Tony Goldwyn, and Donald Sutherland, Statham kicks, punches, and shoots his way through multiple bad guys, taking no prisoners along the journey. While not his best, The Mechanic is still a decent Statham movie with enough action to keep most moviegoers charmed.
The sequel, Mechanic: Resurrection, didn’t impress critics but did well at the box office and is a worthy follow-up.
Arguably Chris Hemsworth’s best film (yes, even better than the Thor movies), Extraction is a non-stop thrill ride. Hemsworth is Tyler Rake, a mercenary for hire who is charged with saving the kidnapped son of an Indian drug lord. Rake and his team are dropped into Dhaka, Bangladesh, where they rescue the child but are then ambushed. With the city locked down, his team dead, and both gangsters and the police after him, Rake must do all he can to protect the child and make it out of the city.
Extraction is one of the few Netflix Original movies that is actually worth watching. Hemsworth is totally believable as a badass merc who manages to survive being killed multiple times while taking out countless enemies. While it did come in for some criticism for having a white man be the hero, Extraction is a bloody good time with an apparent sequel in the works.
The Raid: Redemption (2011)
Another great Indonesian action movie that’s a must-see is the Gareth Evans-helmed The Raid. Iko Uwais stars as a rookie officer of an elite squad who must infiltrate a tower block and take down the drug dealers that live there. The only problem is the 20-man squad finds themselves up against hundreds of criminals willing to do the bidding of the ruthless drug lord barricaded in the tower block.
The Raid: Redemption is non-stop action with some of the best fight scenes of the past two decades. It won several awards, features a soundtrack composed by Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, and ends with a jaw-dropping two-on-one final fight. The only film that comes close to the movie’s intensity is The Raid 2.
The Killer (1988)
Asian action movies don’t get much better than The Killer. Directed by the great John Woo and starring Chow Yun-Fat, this complex thriller is about a hired killer (Yun-Fat) who blinds a young singer during an assassination attempt. Watching over her, the two soon become romantically involved. Needing life-saving surgery to save her eyesight, Yun-Fat attempts one final hit to pay for the surgery.
As is often the case, things go wrong and Yun-Fat finds himself betrayed and on the run. As well as an assorted collection of hitmen and Triads that are after him, an obsessed police detective is also on his trail.
The Killer set the benchmark for 80s action movies and features many of Woo’s trademarks, such as well-choreographed shootouts, tons of blood, and the classic Mexican standoff. A true classic that inspired the John Wick movies, it still holds up today.