11 Movies Like John Wick That Will Get Your Adrenaline Pumping

"John Wick" surpassed expectations and became a bona fide modern action classic. After the conclusion of "The Matrix" franchise, Keanu Reeves had been in a slump; his next set of potential blockbusters "Constantine," "The Day the Earth Stood Still," and "47 Ronin" all underperformed at the box office. But not "John Wick." Director Chad Stahelski and David Leitch revitalized Reeves as an action star; Wick's signature quip "I'm thinking I'm back" was a self-aware nod to Reeves' own resurgence.

Reeves' dedication sold the brutality and incredible fight choreography in "John Wick," but he wasn't the only reason that the film was successful. Stahelski and Leitch created a unique world in which covert assassins are part of a secret society, with the Continental Hotel at the center of the action. The film brilliantly balances tones; Wick's grief following his wife's death is treated with utmost sincerity, but the film's absurdist humor grows as the fight sequences get more ridiculous.

The combination of different fighting techniques also made "John Wick" a novelty. Between martial arts, gunplay, car chases, and noir-like detective work, the film borrows from a number of cinematic influences and created action scenes that were wholly unique. The universe is so exciting that the sequels, "John Wick: Chapter 2" and "John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum," are just as satisfying.

The fourth "John Wick" film will hit theaters in 2022, but in the meantime, fans can look to other adrenaline-pumping action thrillers to fill the void. If you love the "John Wick" series, you'll want to check out these other awesome movies.

Miami Vice

"John Wick" was memorable for its unique tone. The premise — a former hitman goes on a path of vengeance after his dog is killed — may seem silly, but the film treats the tragedy with dramatic gravity. Taking an otherwise goofy story seriously was something Michael Mann epitomized in his 2006 action film, "Miami Vice." The film rebooted the campy '80s cop series of the same name, and cast Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx in the classic roles of Detectives Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs.

The original "Miami Vice" was notable for its stylized use of synthetic music and slick atmosphere, yet the stories were often self-contained. The 2006 film grounded the characters in reality, letting them meditate on their futile mission to stop the smuggling trade from expanding, and having them watch as fellow cops sacrifice their lives. Like Reeves' Wick, Farrell's Crockett hides his sensitivity behind a tough, masculine persona, but more intimate moments reveal just how badly he is suffering.

Like "John Wick," "Miami Vice" is memorable for its beautiful cinematography. Mann used emerging high-definition digital filmmaking techniques to create tactile, lived-in environments, and the gloomy world is perfectly suited to an investigative story. There's texture to the action sequences, and the violence has real consequences because the characters don't simply shrug off their wounds between gunfights. "John Wick" fans who appreciate the well-developed characters and unique hyper-realism of director Chad Stahelski may find similar qualities in Mann's style.

Dirty Harry

For "John Wick" fans patiently waiting for the next adventure, just one recommendation might not be enough. It's a great time to invest in another action series with multiple installments. Clint Eastwood starred in five films as the untraditional San Francisco police inspector Harry Callahan, but the first one, "Dirty Harry," is still the best.

Like John Wick, Callahan has a fiercely independent streak and is willing to step over the line in order to enact justice. In "Dirty Harry," a deadly sniper targets innocent civilians, and Callahan realizes that his corrupt superiors have little interest in catching the killer if it doesn't advance their careers. Director Don Siegel created highly suspenseful, realistic assassination sequences, but the occasional one-liner from Callahan saves the film from growing too dour.

Like Reeves entered a new chapter in his career with "John Wick," the "Dirty Harry" role is one of Clint Eastwood's most famous. Although Eastwood had previously starred in western films, including The Man with No Name trilogy, Eastwood proved that his non-nonsense antihero persona works just as well in modern action-thrillers. Later films in the "Dirty Harry" series became more self-aware, but the first installment combines an engaging revenge story with meticulous gunplay in a way "John Wick" fans should appreciate.


Part of the reason why "John Wick" works so well is its simplicity. Wick's motivation for getting vengeance is clear, and the story isn't needlessly convoluted by story elements that aren't essential. Well, "Commando" is about as blunt as you can get: Someone kidnapped Arnold Schwarzenegger's daughter, and he'll track them across the globe in order to get her back. What follows is 90 minutes of corny '80s action-mayhem that has no illusions about what it is.

Few would claim that either Schwarzenegger or Reeves are awards-worthy actors, but in the right roles they both have the charisma needed to be a compelling lead. Schwarzenegger's physical prominence in action sequences is an advantage, but even compared to other muscle-bound '80s movie stars, Schwarzenegger had self-awareness that allowed him to poke fun at himself. Even when delivering ridiculous one-liners like "Let off some steam!" he embraces the cheesiness.

"Commando" is also quite sincere with its emotion. Although it's a violent film, the love that Schwarzenegger's character, John Matrix, has for his young daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano) is heartfelt. While not as downbeat as the emotional losses in "John Wick," both films have a human drama that makes the action worth investing in.


The neo-noir lighting and surprisingly sincere emotional core of "John Wick" made it refreshing compared to other action movies. Another film that subversively revitalized a familiar genre was Nicholas Winding Refn's blood-soaked getaway thriller, "Drive." Car chase movies are popular, but "Drive" aimed for something more sophisticated than "The Fast and the Furious." Refn created a patient, heartbreaking tragedy centered on a career criminal trying to break free of the violent world he's entrenched in.

The unnamed central driver (Ryan Gosling) is the same near-silent, brooding type that Wick is, but he's far away from considering retirement. He works driving getaway heists for mobster Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks), but a chance encounter with a woman, Irene (Carey Mulligan), and her son Benicio (Kaden Leos) offers him a chance at a normal life. That opportunity is shattered when Irene's husband Standard (Oscar Isaac), convicted of violent crimes, is released from prison and initiates a conflict with Albanian thugs.

The early scenes between Gosling and Mulligan are tender, making the unexpected bursts of realistic violence even more shocking. There's motivation for the driver to express his feelings, and Gosling does a terrific job playing a restrained character who fears becoming attached. "John Wick" composer Cliff Martinez also scored "Drive," which features a terrific soundtrack, especially the main theme, "Hero."


Many "John Wick" fans love the character's personality; he's not just a dull, masochistic blank slate, but a hero with class. Well, no one is classier than 007, and the James Bond franchise has remained a blockbuster action saga for over 50 years. While the 1962 film "Dr. No" launched the series, the core tenants of Bond were established two years later in Sean Connery's third outing as the superspy, "Goldfinger."

"Goldfinger" follows Bond as he investigates a smuggling operation that could throw the financial markets into chaos. He investigates the enigmatic business man Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe) and his chief henchman Oddjob (Harold Sakata) as they plot to plant a dirty bomb in the U.S. supply of gold, and recruits pilot Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman) to assist him. This was Connery's peak Bond performance; between quipping clever one-liners and tricking the boastful Goldfinger into revealing his evil plan, he's as suave as ever.

While Connery's first two Bond films, "Dr. No" and "From Russia with Love," had more in common with Cold War espionage thrillers, "Goldfinger" established the hallmarks of the modern action movie, including Bond's gadgets, exotic locations, self-aware humor, and an exciting opening sequence followed by a stylish musical number. The formula established in "Goldfinger" established the direction of the Bond franchise, laying the foundation for later installments. Later action series like "John Wick" would follow Bond's example.

The Limey

"John Wick" has a fantastic hook; a hero seeking vengeance for the death of his beloved dog was a unique take on the revenge thriller. In 1999, director Steven Soderbergh also offered an original spin on a revenge story. "The Limey" unfolds with hallucinatory, striking visuals, and with dialogue and other noises that are either muffled, repeated, or carried over from an entirely different scene. The idiosyncratic editing of "The Limey" establishes the fragile emotional state of its titular heartbroken assassin.

Wilson (Terrence Stamp) is a former criminal recently released from prison, but his hopes of reconnecting with his daughter Jenny (Melissa George) are shattered when he realizes that she has been murdered. Wilson travels from his English home to Los Angeles, where he tracks down Jenny's boyfriend Terry (Peter Fonda) and discovers that a music label is actually a front for drug trafficking. Realizing that he knew little of his daughter's secret life, Wilson ventures deep within the LA underworld to take down an entire drug syndicate.

Both Stamp and Reeves understand that, sometimes, less is more; neither character is particularly open with their emotions, and they have few friends to talk to, but their subtle body language and mournful glances effectively show how devastating the loss of a loved one can be. In addition, Soderbergh gradually reveals details about the conspiracy as Wilson puts together the clues, similar to how "John Wick" builds the world of the Continental throughout the story.

Leon: The Professional

 "John Wick" fans who like their hitman to be both ruthless and kindhearted will definitely want to check out "Leon: The Professional," a 1994 French action thriller from Luc Besson, but they shouldn't expect any mawkish melodrama. "The Professional" shows the realities of a violent profession through the eyes of a child forced to grow up quickly.

Italian sharpshooter Leon (Jean Reno) has abandoned the Bafia scene and lives a quiet life in New York City's Little Italy, where becomes close to a 12-year-old girl named Mathilda (Natalie Portman), whom he recognizes as a fellow outsider. Leon empathizes with Mathilda, as her parents are abusive and trap her at a private school for troubled children. A violent attack by the corrupt DEA agent Norman Stansfield (Gary Oldman) orphans Mathilda, and Leon reluctantly becomes her father figure. However, this new responsibility means he has to protect her from the threat of a corrupt squad of cops aiming to eliminate her.

Besson doesn't aim to be sentimental, as the irony of watching young Portman grow accustomed to Leon's gunplay is often played for laughs. And yet, there's a genuine bond between the two, as they're both forced into a life that they didn't choose. Fans who love the eccentric rogues' gallery of the "John Wick" franchise will certainly appreciate Oldman's terrifying villainous performance.


The "John Wick" franchise is unique in that its characters are bound by an allegiance to the rules of The Continental; while many of the assassins competing for targets come into conflict, they have an agreement, and face consequences for violating their vows. It's a morality reminiscent of samurai films. Another action film with similar influences is the 1998 heist thriller "Ronin."

"Ronin" follows American mercenary Sam Regazolli (Robert De Niro), who teams with a band of specialists to gather weapons and supplies for an upcoming heist. Regazolli's team lives under the mantra of "No questions, no answers, that's the business we're in," and the revelation that their firearms specialist, Spence (Sean Bean), sold them out is shocking. Regazolli forms a bond with French gunman Reno (Jean Reno) and strikes up a romance with Irish spy Deidre (Natascha McElhone). They desperately try to complete their mission as their teammates are picked off by government forces.

Legendary action director John Frankenheimer understands the psychology of characters driven by professionalism. Despite the fraught political climate that surrounds their mission, Regazolli's team doesn't swear loyalty to the Mafia, the CIA, or a governmental body, as they all have experience being left for dead by uncaring supervisors. The car chase sequences are intense, and each cast member adds a different fighting technique to the action. It's a meticulous, underrated gem of '90s in the "heist gone wrong" genre worthy of "John Wick" fans' consideration.


John Wick is a compelling character because he's motivated by justice, not personal gain. It's a trait shared by Steve McQueen's character, Lieutenant Frank Bullitt, in the 1968 neo-noir classic "Bullitt." Bullitt is employed by the San Francisco Police Department, but it's more than police proceedings that attract him to a case to take down a corrupt U.S. senator. Bullitt is also plagued with guilt after a witness under his protection is killed by the Mafia.

Bullitt is blamed for the tragedy, and goes beyond the limits of the law to recreate his witness' last days, uncovering a larger conspiracy. McQueen maintains his swagger even as Bullitt's girlfriend Cathy (Jacqueline Bisset) pleads with him to reconsider a profession that's desensitized him to violent crimes.

"Bullitt" is best known for its iconic ten-minute car chase featuring a 1968 Mustang. McQueen did most (but not all) of the driving himself, and the use of hand-held cameras in conjunction with long takes earned the film an Academy Award win for best editing. It's the gold standard for car chases that laid the groundwork for sequences like the Dodge Charger skirmish at the climax of "John Wick."

Shoot 'Em Up

The action of "John Wick" is breathtakingly fluid, but it comes with a cheeky sense of humor as the kills get more ridiculous. Fans who enjoyed that element of the film should relish the comic absurdity of the action-comedy "Shoot 'Em Up," which dials up every character's campiness and features gloriously depraved violence. A satire of the media's desensitization of violence and government inaction on gun control, "Shoot 'Em Up" uses its seemingly tasteless exaggeration to shock even hardened action movie buffs.

Mr. Smith (Clive Owen) is a slick gunslinger who inadvertently saves an infant child from a vicious criminal gang led by the psychopathic Karl Hertz (Paul Giamatti). Perplexed as to why the child is being targeted, Smith attempts to pass off parental responsibilities to a local exotic dancer (Monica Belluci), but finds himself part of a conspiracy linked to the Presidential campaign of the corrupt Senator Rutledge (Daniel Pilon). Rutledge needs the infant for a heart transplant, but Smith sees the Senator's potential death as a trigger point in congressional debates over gun rights.

The action unfolds in a manner similar to "Looney Toons," except with realistic violence. The characters all have odd idiosyncrasies; Smith is constantly loudly eating carrots. Hetz cackles in delight when he thinks he's run over a baby with his car. Those who enjoyed the sick thrill of John Wick slaying a man with a pencil should find similar twisted pleasures in "Shoot 'Em Up."

Streets of Fire

The "John Wick" universe features many veteran character actors in memorable supporting roles, including Ian McShane as the Continental's manager Winston, Lance Reddick as the concierge Charon, and Laurence Fishburne as a crime boss known as the Bowery King. The expansive world is reminiscent of the rock n' roll classic "Streets of Fire," which stars a motley group of heroes united against an evil biker gang. Combining elements of noir, kung fu, punk rock, and cyber-futurism, "Streets of Fire" deserves its cult reputation.

Tom (Michael Pare) is a trained soldier working as a bounty hunter who learns that his ex-girlfriend Ellen (Diane Lane) has been kidnapped by a group of evil bikers called the Bombers. Tom agrees to take the mission if he can collect a cash reward in the process, recruiting fellow ex-soldier McCoy (Amy Madigan) to assist him, with Ellen's fast-talking manager Billy (Rick Moranis) serving as their guide through the crime-ridden metroplex. The wisecracking heroes gather weapons as they prepare for a showdown with the Bombers' leader, Raven Shaddock (Willem Dafoe).

Although the era is not specified, "Streets of Fire" emulates a '50s setting through the fantastic original soundtrack. Drawing inspiration from both John Hughes' teen films and '80s dance musicals, "Streets of Fire" merges different genres, similar to how "John Wick" combines eastern and western action cinema. Although rated PG, "Streets of Fire" has an experimental edge that "John Wick" fans should appreciate.