By Cady Drell published
Sometimes it's nice to watch women kick some insane amounts of ass. Fortunately, there are a ton of these very films on streaming services right this second. But we know, it's hard to parse through the sheer amount of movies on Netflix. So let us be your guide: We've compiled a list of the best action movies on Netflix that just happen to have extremely badass female stars, plus a few other faves we hope you'll enjoy.
Whether it's Natalie Portman getting all revolutionary on London or Daisy Ridley tapping into the Force, or even Uma Thurman donning an iconic yellow jumpsuit while she's out for revenge, these are some of the best action movies on Netflix, and they're just the kind of catharsis you'll need to pump yourself up for next year.
In the words of badass woman Shania Twain: "Let's go, girls."
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
The best thing about Rey (played by Daisy Ridley), the hero of the most recent Star Wars movies, is that she's not born to badassery, but instead has badassery thrust upon her. She has fears and faces them, she tackles uncertainties, she finds humanity in even her supposed enemies. She's pretty much the hero we need right now.
This brilliant film by director Bong Joon-ho (the mastermind behind Snowpiercer) seems straightforward enough: A little farm girl named Mija (Seo-Hyeon Ahn) raises a giant pig creature as her pet, and then tries to get it back when a massive food production corporation takes it from her in order to turn it into an alternative meat source.
Okay, maybe it's not that straightforward, but what's surprising—aside from how quickly it turns from a cutesy pet movie into a genuine action film—is its central moral about the inherent evils of capitalism. In that way, it reads almost like a funny, violent modern-day fable, complete with golden pig. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll reconsider your stance on eating animals.
V for Vendetta (2005)
A buzzed Natalie Portman plays Evey, a woman who meets the renegade V and, through him, learns that the government is no longer serving the peoples' interest—suppressing citizens' rights under the banner of safety, spreading lies through government-sponsored TV, detaining anyone it considers subversive—and therefore must be overthrown.
Truly a film ahead of its time.
Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)
Uma Thurman's role as the Bride in Quentin Tarantino's batshit classic martial arts movie is about as tough as they come: A sword-wielding super-assassin hellbent on vengeance, seeking to destroy the man who wronged her. It's a gorefest, but if you want a serious female-fronted action movie, this is about as good as they come.
Guardians of the Galaxy Pt. 2 (2017)
Okay, technically Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) are basically the only women in this entire movie, but they're also the two toughest characters—period—so it counts. Their storyline in this sequel to the original sees Nebula coming around to the Guardians' way of thinking as she considers abandoning her born-to-kill past.
Tomb Raider (2001)
Though they rebooted it with Alicia Vikander, the original Lara Croft movie featured Angelina Jolie as the video game hero, kicking ass, taking names, and trying to salvage mystical artifacts—like if Indiana Jones braided his hair.
Salma Hayek plays Everly, a woman whose family has been targeted by the Japanese mob after she runs away from their sex trafficking operation. As the bad guys throw everything in their arsenal at her apartment, Everly wields guns and stays witty in order to save her family and herself.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Women don't get to swashbuckle enough in movies, frankly, but Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso does it in spades in this off-shoot of the Star Wars universe. Story-wise, Rogue One runs alongside the original trilogy—Jyn is the daughter of the Death Star's reluctant architect. It's up to her and a ragtag group of miscreants (including Diego Luna and Riz Ahmen, yes hello) to save her father and deliver the plans of the Death Star, the only things that can destory the massive weapon and stop the Empire.
April and the Extraordinary World (2016 U.S. Release)
This French animated movie presents an alternate history: It's 1941 Paris and the world's scientists have been mysteriously disappearing as the world turns to chaos. April (voiced by Marion Cotillard) is an orphan, and alongside her science-experiment talking cat Darwin, she tries to find out what happened to her scientist parents and maybe even stop a world-ending evil.
This take on old school B movies has an intriguing premise: Texas has seceded, and they've decided to take over Brooklyn as their new country's Northern base. A woman (Brittany Snow) returns to what was once her home in the Bushwick neighborhood of the borough and quickly realizes shit has gone down. She takes refuge with a macho survivor who agrees to get her to her destination, but she becomes a gunslinging badass of her own over the course of the movie.
Black Panther (2018)
Though the titular Black Panther himself was a dude, Wakanda was chock full of powerful women: Brilliant inventor Shuri (Letitia Wright), fierce warrior Okoye (Danai Gurira), wise leader Ramonda (Angela Bassett), and dedicated philanthropist Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o). Their characters make for a truly refreshing watching experience that goes far beyond the typical two-dudes-punching-each-other action movies of yore.
Sure, we need little convincing to get behind any movie that includes potential Chris Hemsworth shirtlessness, but the real pull here is Cate Blanchett as Thor's pure evil sister, Hela, who's returned to take over Asgard and expand her empire. Add Tessa Thompson, one of the fallen Valkyrior (the all-female warriors who fought to take down Hela), and her biting humor, and you have yourself a truly entertaining action flick. Special shoutout to Hela's villainous fashions, which are also incredible.
Cady Drell is a writer, editor, researcher and pet enthusiast from Brooklyn.
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