Five Action Movies to Stream Right Now

There is no genre I associate more with the theatrical experience than action. Often painted across a wide canvas and bolstered by extravagant set pieces, these movies are uniquely fashioned to play on the biggest screen possible. By the grace of the entertainment gods, thank goodness, home flat screens just keep getting bigger. Action further suits the home because the outsize nature of the genre has the ability to turn your cozy living room into an energetic hub for adventure.

But there are a lot of car chases, explosions, and sword and fist fights to sift through. Let me help you on the journey by providing some streaming highlights. This month’s picks include films from around the globe and tonally range from family friendly to downright gory.

‘Below Zero’

Stream it on Netflix.

Sporting a green poncho, a menacing figure drags a bloody hooligan into a muddy grave. He’s looking for information, details only this young man can provide. A combination of M. Night Shyamalan’s “Unbreakable” and John Carpenter’s “Assault on Precinct 13,” Lluís Quílez’s Spanish-language prison thriller, “Below Zero,” unfolds its tantalizing mysteries within the claustrophobic confines of a prisoner transfer bus.

The vehicle is driven by a new police transfer, Martin (Javier Gutiérrez), protected by his gauche partner Montesinos (Isak Férriz). The convicts range from the very dangerous to the flippantly annoying. Two in particular stick out: the glib con artist Ramis (Luis Callejo) and the unsuspecting ruffian Nano (Patrick Criado). During their drive, on a snowy, foggy road, the officers’ convoy comes under the attack of a dangerous, enigmatic figure. He wants Nano, and amid a violent inmate revolt, it’s up to Martin to figure out why. Icy and relentless, “Below Zero” features raw torture scenes, allowing Quílez and his co-writer Fernando Navarro to smartly consider the moral compass of these characters.

‘Finding Ohana’

Stream it on Netflix.

The siblings Pili (Kea Peahu) and Ioane (Alex Aiono) travel with their mother (Kelly Hu) from New York City back to their Hawaiian homeland to care for their grandfather (Branscombe Richmond) following his heart attack. Among her grandfather’s belongings, the geocaching enthusiast Pili discovers a journal detailing a legend of buried Spanish gold.

Jude Weng’s film aims for family-friendly thrills in the vein of “The Goonies,” with the archaeological intrigue of Indiana Jones. A bright, endearing tribute to the island state’s culture and its people, the story sees Pili teaming with her brother and their new local friends, Casper (Owen Vaccaro) and Hana (Lindsay Watson), to search for the fabled loot.

Hitting lovable adventure beats, “Finding Ohana” is as much about reconnecting with the past as it is about swashbuckling deeds and treasure maps.

‘No Matarás (Cross the Line)’

Stream it on HBO Max.

What would happen if a filmmaker infused Albert Camus’s “The Stranger” with the dynamics of a pulpy punk thriller? The Spanish director David Victori provides the answer in his pulse-pounding film “No Matarás (Cross the Line).” Dani (Mario Casas), much like the Camus character Meursault, has recently lost an ailing parent, his father. Dani’s introverted personality is further expressed in his heavy gait and broad, slumped shoulders.

Seeing her brother return to work the very next day, Dani’s worried sister Laura (Elisabeth Larena) books an around-the-world vacation for him. But before Dani can depart, he crosses paths with a desperate, edgy, black-clad woman named Mila (Milena Smit). She seems attracted to Dani’s shyness, and the pair’s immediate chemistry drips with sexual tension. When they go to Mila’s home, however, her deranged boyfriend appears, forcing Dani into a seemingly inescapable nightmare. Taking place over a single night, and buoyed by Casas’s stark performance, the unsuspectingly heart-pounding film has a simple moral: Don’t talk to strangers.

‘Sentinelle’

Stream it on Netflix.

The title for Julien Leclercq’s French-language film stems from the force protecting France against terrorist attacks. While “Sentinelle” opens in Syria, it morphs into a Paris-set rape-revenge thriller.

Following a wartime tragedy, Klara (Olga Kurylenko), a serious and steadfast soldier, is transferred back home. Though she suffers from PTSD, chaining her to opioids, Klara believes the less grueling assignment is a demotion. Her only solace away from the battlefield comes from her carefree sister Tania (Marilyn Lima). To unwind, the pair go clubbing. Tania departs from the hot spot with an attractive high roller. Klara leaves with her own one-night stand. Their night of revelry turns tragic, however, when paramedics discover Tania comatose after a brutal sexual assault. All signs point back to the wealthy partyer, a son of a Russian tech mogul. Bone-crunching hand-to-hand combat and sharply choreographed gunfights accompany Klara’s dogged pursuit of justice in this gritty genre-bender that’s packed with plenty of firepower.

‘The Swordsman’

Rent or buy on Amazon, Google Play or FandangoNow.

I gravitate toward sword films like a blade to the flesh. “The Swordsman,” Choi Jae-hoon’s riveting period piece, rewarded my proclivity for the retired loner who is once again compelled to wield an exquisite slashing talent against the vicious goons disturbing a hard-fought peace. Tae-yul (Jang Hyuk), the once-royal guardsman to the King of Joseon, lives on a hill in seclusion with his daughter Tae-ok (Kim Hyun-soo). Nearly blind, his body older than his age would indicate, and burdened by a regret as tattered as his once-pristine robes, the quiet Tae-yul is dragged into the kingdom’s political turmoil when the brutal Lord Kurutai kidnaps Tae-ok into sex slavery.

Son Won-ho’s nimble cinematography, elegantly capturing the blisteringly fast swordplay, is as entrancing as Jang’s pale-blue-eyed warrior. The film doesn’t overflow with blood. The kills arrive too cleanly for that. But the enthralling duels and immersive period detail make “The Swordsman” a bladey good time.

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