Movies

Best Action Movies of 2022 (So Far)

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An unranked list including the year’s best action movie and nine others that aren’t ‘RRR.’

By  · Published on July 9th, 2022

As part of our annual Mid-Year Report, our Chief Film Critic and all-around action fan Rob Hunter has put together a list of the best action movies of 2022 so far, as of the end of June.


It might be hard to believe, but 2022 is already half over. A lot has transpired in the world, both bad and terrible, but one constant has been a steady stream of good movies to distract us from the impending apocalypse. This midpoint is a good time to take a look at the best movies that have been released this year, and first up is a list of the ten best action movies, in unranked alphabetical order, for your perusing pleasure. Will they all survive the next six months to earn a spot on our year-end Best Action list? Maybe, maybe not.

What exactly makes a great action movie, anyway? That’s a great question, and lucky for you, I have the answer. Strong action is obviously part of it, but in addition to executing its fights and stunts with skill, impact, and imagination, a great action movie is one that doesn’t forget about the other elements. Writing, direction, production design, performances — the best action movies deliver across the board while ensuring that the highlight are its brawls, shootouts, chases, and/or explosions.

As is often the case with my action lists, more than half of the titles below come from directors and/or countries outside of the U.S. America still makes absolute bangers on occasion, but the rise of CG blockbusters has dampened the quality of action coming out of Hollywood leaving the market wide open for for those more enamored by physical movement, fighting skills, and elaborate set-pieces. And arguably, when non-Hollywood filmmakers do use CG it’s often in wildly creative ways — yeah, I’m looking at you S.S. Rajamouli and your beautiful baby RRR.

Now keep reading for the best action movies of 2022… so far. (And quick note, one of this year’s great ones, Baby Assassins, made my list last year on the strength of its festival appearances.)


Ambulance

Ambulance

Michael Bay has been making big, explosion-filled action movies for decades now, and a few of them are all-timers in the genre. You’d be forgiven for thinking his best work was behind him as his last good movie was 2016’s 13 Hours, but 2022 has taught us to never count out Mr. Bayhem. Ambulance (my review) is a slick, fast-moving ride through the streets of Los Angeles as crooks hijack an ambulance and find themselves pursued by every law enforcement agent in the county. Chases, stunts, vehicular destruction, and more are brought to vivid life, and Bay’s use of drone cameras puts the tech to entirely new use and puts viewers right in the middle of the action. Add in some big laughs and engaging character work by Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Eiza Gonzalez, and you have Bay’s most purely enjoyable film since 1996’s The Rock.

Currently available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD, and streaming.


The Batman

The Batman

There has been no shortage of Batman movies over the years, and while none of them have been what you’d call “realistic,” only one of them has actually felt grounded. That one is this one, Matt Reeves‘ entry into the DC universe which wisely avoids showing any connection to previous DC films. The Batman (my review) is something of a coming-of-age movie, a precursor to the dark knight we already know that drops viewers just two years into his vigilante efforts, and he’s not exactly an expert yet. The action is heavy on fisticuffs as Batman and Catwoman punch and kick their way through baddies, and we also get some muscular car action thanks to a souped-up Batmobile. Sure, at 175-minutes there’s more yammering than hammering, but it still delivers the goods.

Currently available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD, and streaming.


Everything Everywhere All at Once

Everything Everywhere All At Once

While most action movies on this list are just that, action movies, the latest film from The Daniels — it’s their follow-up to 2016’s endlessly creative Swiss Army Man — is every bit a comedy, drama, sci-fi masterpiece. Michelle Yeoh stars as a wife, mother, and laundry owner whose life didn’t quite turn out to be as special as she would have hoped. That changes, though, when the world of alternate universes and life-ending uber villains comes calling. Soon she’s seeing other worlds, becoming alternate selves, and fighting like Michelle Yeoh. The fights here are effectively stylish while still being impressive, and there’s a playful energy to it all thanks to its wonderfully nonsensical approach (ie fighting two guys with dildos stuck in their behinds). Everything Everywhere All at Once is highly recommended.

Currently available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD, and streaming.


The Killer (South Korea)

The Killer

This is the first of three — three! — entries from South Korea, but seeing as this is a Best Action list that really shouldn’t surprise you. Choi Jae-hoon, director of 2020’s excellent The Swordsman, returns with a contemporary tale of comeuppance and vengeance. A retired hitman is tasked with babysitting his wife’s friend’s daughter, but that simple gig takes a turn when she’s abducted. The story never gets more complicated than that in The Killer, but who cares when the fights, knife play, and shootouts are this damn entertaining. Including this one here may be a minor cheat seeing as it doesn’t open until halfway into July, but I’ve already seen it so it counts. I said it counts!

Available in theaters starting July 13th.


The Princess

The Princess

Hulu

Speaking of movies that technically don’t open until the second half of 2022, The Princess (my review) might just be the unlikeliest entry to make this year’s cut. A 20th Century Studios release that’s been relegated to being a Hulu Original, this take on the familiar fables we all know stars Joey King (!) as a princess tasked with marrying an invading prince. She says hell no to that, and we’re off to the races — the film basically opens with her waking at the top of a tower and having to fight her way back down to the ground. It’s a reverse Raid! The movie is directed by Le-van Kiet (2019’s Furie, which also made that year’s Best Action list), co-stars Veronica Ngo and Olga Kurylenko, and features some legitimately fun and thrilling fight sequences. King and her stunt double put in the work delivering creative and satisfying action beats throughout.

Available on Hulu starting July 1st.


This list of the Best Action Movies of 2022 (so far) concludes on the next page…

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he’s so damn young. He’s our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists ‘Broadcast News’ as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.



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