It’s an inevitable truth that in any given year the number of great action movies will trail behind the number of great films in other genres like horror or comedy, and this year is no different. The list below features ten movies, but I can already guess that a few of them won’t make the cut for the actual year-end list. They’re here to make an even ten, but they’re good/okay action movies instead of great ones.
But hey, beggars can’t be choosers, and for right now action junkies can’t go wrong with any of the ten titles here. They’re a mix of martial arts, gun fights, car action, and more, and all of them offer some degree of excitement.
Keep reading for a look at the ten best action movies of 2018 so far.
New Scott Adkins movies will pretty much always be contenders for the year’s best action as the guy is a stupidly talented fighter who takes to acrobatics as easily and frequently as I take to pizza. His latest shows off a sense of humor too as he plays a hitman whose shtick is killing people in ways that don’t look like murder. He narrates and introduces viewers to the various personalities in his assassin club, and there are some funny gags along the way. The focus, though, is action, and Adkins shows yet again that crossing him means he’ll most likely be kicking you to death before the credits roll. [Currently available on DVD]
Jason Momoa plays a character named Joe Braven, and honestly, that’s already more than enough to land it on our action list. Happily, there’s also some actual action too including well-choreographed brawls in the snow, gunplay, deadly displays of archery, and a viscerally gorgeous sequence involving a man doused in flammable liquid and a flaming hatchet throw. It’s old-school action done well with characters we care about — including family members who prove to be Bravens in training — and a beautiful landscape as a backdrop to the fun. [Currently available on DVD]
Ryan Reynolds’ attempts at locking down a comic book character on the big screen saw him fighting vampires, wearing a space ring, and portraying a bastardized version of Deadpool, but it was his more accurate stab at that last character in 2016 that finally clicked with audiences. The sequel offers up more of the same — meta humor, bloody demises, big laughs, and plenty of crazily entertaining action including gun play, blade action, and pyrokinetic kiwi. [Currently playing in theaters]
This feels at times like a sloppy, low budget riff on The Bourne Identity, but all is forgiven when lead Chris Mark begins showing off his talents. He keeps busy in the movies as a stunt performer, but while his acting chops are sketchy his fighting chops are stylish, brutal, and wickedly fast. Just go with the sci-fi gibberish and mildly dramatic story beats because the action is kick-ass fun. [Currently available on DVD]
An innocent man tries to clear his name in the latest feature from action maestro John Woo, but you can safely ignore the plot here as it’s a whole mess of confusing gibberish. Instead just sit back and enjoy the lunacy of the action set pieces that Woo choreographs for your viewing pleasure. It’s ludicrous, but the farmhouse-set action sequence is a bonkers all-timer. [Currently available to stream on Netflix]
Maze Runner: The Death Cure
One of the only YA franchises outside of the big three to actually finish its story on the screen, The Maze Runner trilogy starts weak, peaks in the middle, and ends strong with this terrific piece of post-apocalyptic fun. It wraps up the narrative and delivers some solidly thrilling action set-pieces along the way. There’s a Fast & Furious vibe to some of the scenes with heists and off-road vehicle shenanigans, but we also get fist/gunfights and some zombie-ish antics. [Currently available on Blu-ray/DVD]
Matt Murphy’s action/comedy from New Zealand is actually a remake of his dad’s 1980 film Goodbye Pork Pie, and while I imagine that’s even nuttier (due to the time period and the region’s notable lack of safety concerns) Murphy the younger does him proud with this joyous blast of a road trip/chase movie that also speaks to romance, regrets, and the mistakes we make in life. It’s funny, thrilling, and filled with the kind of rousing heart we don’t see in a lot of action/comedies. [Currently available on VOD]
Sicario: Day of the Soldado
This follow-up to Denis Villeneuve’s 2015 original trades heavy themes and pure dread for a more familiar narrative, but the action remains beautifully executed with style, impact, and intensity. There’s a feeling of authenticity to the military hardware and violence, and the screen crackles equally with gunfire and energy as Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin tear through Mexico with their weapons hot. [Currently playing in theaters]
Leigh Whannell’s latest leaves the ghost behind in favor a sci-fi tale about a man who uses technology to help him avenge his wife’s killers, and while it’s a lower budgeted affair the action is immensely entertaining. It’s shot with energy and style, practical effects enhance the grisly nature of the violent acts, and Logan Marshall-Green delivers a fantastically flexible performance highlighting sharp moves and physical comedy. [Currently playing in theaters]
We Will Not Die Tonight
There’s nothing pretty about this Philippines-made action/thriller (aside from its lead), and it’s worlds away from the likes of John Wick or South Korea’s The Villainess in that the violence here is ugly and raw rather than hyper-stylized and elaborately choreographed. (The entire film was shot in eight days which is roughly the time given to rehearsing a big fight sequence on Atomic Blonde.) It means there’s no real jaw-dropping action set-piece guaranteed to leave audiences talking, but what it lacks in graceful and gorgeous violence it more than makes up for with brutally energetic intensity. It also features more machete slices and slashes than you’ll find in any half dozen Korean films, and that’s no small feat. [Currently playing the festival circuit]