23 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 hits theaters in March 2023, 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.

Point Break

"Point Break" is a movie I'd love to go back and see in a theater with an opening night crowd. Here is a pitch-perfect, action-packed '90s epic bustling with personality and executed with tremendous skill. It's the ultimate bromance movie, replete with ball-busting thrills, go-for-broke performances, and a surprising amount of depth, considering its plot centers around a cop named Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) who goes undercover as (what else?) a surfer to catch Bodhi (Patrick Swayze), an adrenaline junkie addicted to bank robbing.

Silly, for sure, but Reeves (in his first significant action role) and Swayze (in his most iconic performance outside of "Roadhouse") effortlessly zip through the rocky waters on a wave of sure-handed magnetism. Director Kathryn Bigelow orchestrates enough exhilarating action and tremendous stunts to get the juices flowing but wisely takes the time to forge a strong connection between Reeves' red-blooded cop and Swayze's rugged lawbreaker. We care about these two knuckleheads and mourn the choices that eventually break them apart.

Like "John Wick," "Point Break" is an intense thrill ride that wears its heart on its sleeve, and dips its machismo in a hefty batch of emotion, with which is probably why it's become a classic amongst action aficionados. Vai com Deus.

Atomic Blonde

After establishing Keanu Reeves as the murderous boogeyman John Wick, David Leitch (who co-directed "John Wick" and executive produced its sequels) set his sights on Academy Award winner Charlize Theron and transformed the glamorous star into a merciless, gun-toting, bone-breaking MI6 operative in the action bonanza "Atomic Blonde." Darker and grittier than "John Wick," with a narrative complicated enough to make your brain hurt from thinking about it, "Atomic Blonde" unleashes Theron on Russia's sleazy underbelly via a series of electrifying fight sequences, shot to look like extended takes, á la Alfonso Cuarón's "Children of Men."

The plot involves super-spy Lorraine Broughton (Theron) and her attempts to apprehend The List, an important document containing names of intelligence agents operating in Berlin. Cue a barrage of double crosses, plot twists, and endings. Yeah, it's all tried and true, but you don't pop in a flick titled "Atomic Blonde" in pursuit of groundbreaking storytelling. Its bread and butter lie in the creative choreography, stunts, one-shot takes, staggering violence, and technical pizzazz. In that way, "Atomic Blonde" shoots and slices its way into your action-loving heart, resulting in a fun, albeit flawed, modern spy thriller. Now, where's our Broughton and Wick team-up?


How do you create the perfect follow-up to "John Wick" and "Atomic Blonde?" By casting "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul" alum Bob Odenkirk as a lethal assassin, of course. That's the gist of "Nobody," an action epic so good it's hard to believe it exists.

Odenkirk stars as lowly everyman Hutch Mansell, whose docile existence is upturned when a pair of thieves break into his home and threaten his family. The event triggers an already frustrated Hutch, who sets out to exact justice and unleashes a whirlwind of shocking destruction. Hutch, you see, is a former assassin who tapped out of his profession to try his hand at everyday life. Turns out that barbecues, early morning jogs, and bland office jobs aren't Hutch's thing. This guy picks fights with hotheaded gangsters just to blow off steam and dives face-first through glass with all the enthusiasm of a kid at a waterpark.

Written by "John Wick" creator-slash-writer Derek Kolstad, "Nobody" is a delicious serving of old-fashioned filmmaking that leaves you begging for seconds. Where else will you see Christopher Lloyd take down a crew of baddies with a shotgun in an old folk's home? "Nobody" is as good as (if not better than) "John Wick."

The Matrix

No action list is complete without the pinnacle of '90s-era action cinema, "The Matrix." Decades later, the Wachowski siblings' sci-fi mind-bender still packs quite the punch thanks to expertly crafted set pieces, jaw-dropping special effects, and mind-blowing philosophy.

Keanu Reeves stars as Neo, a regular guy whose life is turned upside down when he discovers the world he knows is a computer simulation designed by machines to enslave humans. Joining the leather-clad Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), Neo adorns the rimless, oval sunglasses, loads the Micro Uzis, and literally kicks off a revolution to save humanity.

"The Matrix" delivers everything one could ask for from a high-concept sci-fi action picture — fights, guns (lots of guns), explosions, chases, and raised stakes galore. You have to wait a while for the spectacle to kick into gear. Thankfully, an intelligent script, colorful characters, and solid acting are enough to hold our attention through the first two acts. The climax, during which Neo and Trinity blow the bejesus out of a room full of security guards before smashing a helicopter into a skyscraper, is the stuff of dreams. A bonafide classic, "The Matrix" rocks; just be sure to skip the bloated, nonsensical sequels.

Gunpowder Milkshake

Like many on this list, "Gunpowder Milkshake" doesn't upend the established formula, but merely adds a new wrinkle to the chaos. In this case, our heroes are an all-female band of battle-hardened assassins led by Karen Gillan, Lena Headey, Carla Gugino, Michelle Yeoh, and Angela Bassett, who join forces to protect a young girl named Emily (Chloe Coleman) from a ruthless organization known as The Firm.

Don't let the simple premise fool you; this is a fun action romp featuring engaging characters, delicious brawls, brutal violence, and colorful set pieces galore. Sure, the choreography lacks the fluidity and grace of "John Wick," and Gillan doesn't quite pop here the way she did in "Jumanji" or "Guardians of the Galaxy." Still, "Gunpowder Milkshake" finds clever ways to pound our senses — that neon-lit bowling alley scene is a blast! — and settles somewhere between "John Wick" and comic book-styled adventures like "Wanted" with a dash of "Sin City" tossed in for good measure. Don't think about it too much. Instead, sit back and enjoy the ride.

The Raid

"The Raid" can best be described as ... well, nothing really, because few action pictures match the sheer ferocity offered in Gareth Evans' classic Indonesian epic. Stars Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Donny Alamsyah, and Yayan Ruhian went on to Hollywood productions such as "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," "Fast & Furious 6," "John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum," and, naturally, "The Raid 2," with good reason: These guys know how to put on a show.

Mixing graphic violence and riveting fight choreography with a unique story centered around a police assault on an apartment complex operated by a ruthless crime lord named Tama Riyadi (Ray Sahetapy), "The Raid" mixes the claustrophobia of "Die Hard" with martial arts classics like "Fist of Fury," resulting in a satisfying mix of Eastern and Western cinema, as Rama (Uwais) must fight to the top of the building to survive.

Visceral, full of brutal action scenes, and occasionally hard to stomach, "The Raid" pulls no punches during its lengthy action beats, where hoards of screaming men blast each other to bits, lop off limbs with machetes, and hurl bodies across the hellish environment. This is a movie that relishes carnage, a piece of entertainment that will either stir your senses or leave you shielding your eyes in disgust. "The Raid" is grisly, ferocious, and unquestionably phenomenal. Oh, and if you want more, check out the equally brilliant "The Raid 2," which somehow finds new ways to up the ante.


"Extraction" may follow the oft-beaten path of most action pictures, but director Sam Hargrave (a former stunt coordinator in the Marvel universe) overcomes the numerous story gaffs with enough explosive set pieces to keep viewers invested for two hours. Chris Hemsworth finally finds a vehicle to flaunt his square-jawed, muscular action-figure physique and portrays Tyler Rake, a former Special Air Service Regiment operator tasked with protecting the son of an Indian drug lord from a rival gang. Along the way, Tyler and young Ovi (Rudhraksh Jaiswal) bond and blah, blah, blah ...

What matter here are the shootouts, stunts, and excessive violence. By all accounts, Tyler kills 183 people in "Extraction," and barely breaks a sweat. He's your atypical modern action hero — ruthless, cunning, and about as charismatic as a pit bull — but you'll be too busy oohing and ahing at the nonstop mayhem to consider how many times you've seen this same story play out in better films.


It only took two decades, but they finally got Wolverine right in "Logan," a violent, R-rated thriller that explores the latter years of Hugh Jackman's steel-eyed hero. Directed by James Mangold, who brings the same western-genre instincts that made "3:10 to Yuma" such a thrill, "Logan" finds a much older Wolverine living out his final days alongside a decaying Professor X (Patrick Stewart) in a world where mutants are all but extinct. Into his dusty existence drops Laura (Dafne Keen), a young girl with abilities similar to Logan, created by mutant DNA to be a weapon for a shady corporation called Transigen. Logan reluctantly becomes Laura's caretaker and guides the young child on her journey to Eden, where she will meet up with others of her kind and hopefully live a peaceful existence.

Bloody, violent, and often depressing, "Logan" nonetheless captures the essence of the Wolverine better than any film prior. Here, the man uses his claws to sever limbs, chop off heads, and mutilate bodies in a bloody fashion. Jackman paints Logan as a man struggling to find reasons to live, exhausted by a life of tragedy, clinging to a small vestige of hope that something better will come and save him from this putrid existence — think "John Wick," albeit with more knives and less gun-fu. "Logan" is often difficult to watch due to its downbeat tone, but comic book fans and action buffs will praise Mangold's mature approach to the material.


Looking for a kick in the a**? I urge you to check out, well, "Kick-Ass." Directed by consummate shock artist Matthew Vaughn, this big-screen adaptation of Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.'s comic series finds naive young Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) squeezing into green tights to fight street-level crime in New York. During his adventures, he draws the ire of high-ranking villain Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong), necessitating a team-up with a father-daughter crime-fighting duo, Hit-Girl (scene-stealer Chloë Grace Moretz) and Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage). Together, this batch of small-league superheroes does what they can to purge their city of slime and villainy.

"Kick-Ass" sometimes gets too caught up in simpleminded juvenile humor and abhorrent violence but pays off in unexpected ways thanks to a solid cast, a few memorable set pieces, and a grand finale that mixes laughs with whip-smart action. Even so, the picture works best when it focuses on Hit-Girl — one of the more unique action heroes to ever grace the screen — a foul-mouthed, purple-haired teenager who takes no prisoners and relishes bloodshed. She's a revelation and the reason "Kick-Ass" works so well. Now, the less said about the disappointing 2013 sequel, the better.


Who knew Liam Neeson was an action star waiting for the perfect moment to emerge from his dramatic cocoon? Oh sure, there were signs. "Darkman," "Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace," and bit parts in "Batman Begins" and "Kingdom of Heaven." Still, it wasn't until "Taken" that the esteemed actor demonstrated his ability to tackle a one-man-versus-the-world vehicle.

Directed by Pierre Morel, "Taken" sees Neeson as ex-Green Beret and ex-CIA officer Bryan Mills, who is forced to get back in the game after his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) is kidnapped while vacationing in Paris. Bryan heads overseas to find his kid and runs into all manner of criminal scum, all of which are part of a dangerous Albanian sex trafficking ring.

Basically, it's all just an excuse to let our hero commit an absurd amount of "John Wick"-lite violence against terrible people without afflicting violence-craving audiences. Bryan shoots, stabs, tortures, and beats waves of faceless bad guys, all in the name of justice. While the story is routine, Neeson adds gravitas to the proceedings and takes Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen's script to a whole new level. When he tells the bad guys who have taken his daughter that he has "a particular set of skills ... that make me a nightmare for people like you," we believe every word coming out of his mouth. "I will find you, and I will kill you," he says. Chills.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

"The Kingsman" franchise regrettably stalled at the box office following "The King's Man." No matter, the first feature in Matthew Vaughn's 007-styled satire about lavish gentlemen assassins operating out of London felt like a breath of fresh air in a cinematic world populated by a revolving door of dark and gritty action heroes. "Kingsman: The Secret Service" checks all the right boxes for "John Wick" fans — it's intense, violent, and rather ghastly in its depictions of human depravity, but it's also fun, lighthearted, and shamelessly raunchy.

For example, the climax features heads of world leaders and wealthy establishment members exploding in a beautiful array of CGI fireworks. There's also a moment where suave gentleman operative Harry Hart (Colin Firth) goes on a killing spree in a church as Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" blares over the soundtrack. He shoots women in the face, breaks bones, and leaves the building riddled with corpses. Eggsy (Taron Egerton), our wide-eyed young hero, is promised a, um, sexual favor by a woman in prison should he succeed in saving the world.

Does that sound like your cup of tea? Then take a gander at "Kingsman" and its two followups, "Kingsman: The Golden Circle" and "The King's Man." You won't regret it.

Mad Max: Fury Road

George Miller's dazzling sequel-slash-reboot-slash-remake to his "Mad Max" trilogy, "Mad Max: Fury Road," is the stuff of dreams. Packed with gorgeous visuals, wicked action, and edge-of-your-seat excitement, this wild thriller sees the titular Max (Tom Hardy, taking the role over from Mel Gibson) team up with Charlize Theron's bald-headed Furiosa to steal a group of "breeders" from a madman known as Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) in an apocalyptic world starving for natural resources. An incredible chase sequence follows through a scenic desert landscape chock full of sandstorms and all manner of danger.

While that may sound rather simplistic, rest assured, "Fury Road" is not your average action epic. There's so much to admire here that few superlatives do the film justice. From Hardy and Theron's powerhouse performances to the nonstop barrage of eye-popping action, "Fury Road" entertains in a way few films can. What's more, like "John Wick," "Fury Road" engulfs us in a bizarre world filled with various factions battling for dominion over the region. Max, our hero, may not initially take the bull by the horns, but, like Wick, the man retaliates with reckless abandon when pushed hard enough. "Mad Max: Fury Road" is one of the most incredible action pictures ever produced.