Once upon a time, the action genre, particularly the ones coming from Hollywood were traditionally dominated by male actors. But in recent years, women have played an integral part in taking a fair share of their limelight in action movies too. From Charlize Theron in “Atomic Blonde” to Saoirse Ronan in “Hanna”, these female-led action movies give the male-dominated ones a run for their money. I’ve personally watched everything on this list, so check out my recommendations of these 7 Exciting Female-Led Action Movies On Netflix!
1) Atomic Blonde
Charlize Theron is no stranger to playing action roles, having previously appeared in movies like “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “The Old Guard”, just to name a few. Then, there’s “Atomic Blonde” — the movie that showcased her physical prowess to the fullest.
Set during the Cold War era, she plays an undercover MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton assigned to Berlin to recover a missing list of secret agents. Of course, the mission turns out to be more complicated than expected. “Atomic Blonde” tries hard to be an old-school espionage movie, complete with the obligatory double-crosses and triple-crosses.
While the labyrinthine storyline is needlessly convoluted for its own good, it’s the action scenes that matter the most. And for that, it delivers, thanks to David Leitch’s (yes, the co-director of the first “John Wick” himself) engaging direction. Two of the notable action scenes, both of which are seamlessly put together in one continuous take are worth mentioning here. One involved a visceral stairwell fight scene, followed by a car chase creatively shot from the car interior’s point-of-view.
Stream “Atomic Blonde” right here.
Here’s another exciting spy thriller worth streaming on Netflix. Led by Angelina Jolie, she plays a top CIA agent Evelyn Salt who becomes a fugitive after a defector accused her of being a Russian spy. The movie moves at an intriguing pace and it helps that Jolie’s physically demanding performance is on point as usual. Not to mention the movie gets an extra boost from an above-average supporting cast and edge-of-the-seat action moments.
Stream “Salt” right here.
Not only the statuesque Russian model Sasha Luss looks good playing a sexy KGB assassin but she proves to be convincing enough in an action role. Believe it or not, “Anna”, which refers to Luss’ eponymous title character, is actually her first starring role. She handles the action part well enough, notably the restaurant scene where she single-handedly takes down her assailants. The assassin plot recalls the work of Luc Besson’s own “La Femme Nikita”, the 1990 action thriller that famously popularised the female assassin subgenre. Only this time, Besson chose to tell “Anna” in a more complex narrative approach. The kind where the movie jumps around in different timelines. Certainly not for those with short attention spans.
Stream “Anna” right here.
Kicking a** is what Jennifer Garner does best, as evidently seen in TV’s “Alias” and movies like “Daredevil” and “Elektra”. So, it’s nice to see her back in the action mode when she teamed up with “Taken” director Pierre Morel in “Peppermint”. It’s a classic revenge tale, where she plays a grieving mom who turns vigilante after her husband and daughter are brutally killed by the drug cartel. While you have to suspend your disbelief to buy the fact that an ordinary mom can transform into a martial arts and weapons expert in just a matter of years, “Peppermint” does feature some riveting action moments. And despite casting 46-year-old Jennifer Garner at the time, she still has what it takes to pull off such a physically demanding role.
Stream “Peppermint” right here.
Moving away from Hollywood, here we have “Maria” from the Philippines. The story is something that we have seen countless times before: a character just wanting to start a new life, only the past catches up with him/her. Loved one(s) get killed and the character sets out for revenge. The “Maria” in question refers to Cristine Reyes’ title character, who plays a retired assassin forced to revert to her old ways following the death of her husband and daughter. If you can get past the usual clichés, “Maria” boasts a couple of crisply-directed action scenes and Reyes’ impressive physical presence.
Stream “Maria” right here.
A violent action thriller coming all the way from yes, the Philippines again. And here, “BuyBust” follows Nina Manigan (Anne Curtis) and her team of an elite anti-narcotics squad on a drug bust in the slums of Gracia ni Maria. The movie recalls the no-holds-barred grittiness of Indonesia’s “The Raid” and it doesn’t shy away when comes to plenty of body counts. The movie may have been overlong but it manages to compensate with a few thrilling action setpieces and bravura cameraworks, coupled with Anne Curtis’ engaging turn as Nina Manigan.
Stream “BuyBust” right here.
If you have seen Saoirse Ronan in period dramas like “Atonement”, “Brooklyn” and “Little Women”, it’s hard to imagine her in a contemporary role. A role of a teen assassin, to be exact, in “Hanna”. But she does a great job playing the icy but vulnerable title character. The action scenes do not disappoint here, showcasing Joe Wright’s keen eyes for crisp visuals. Jeff Imada’s impressively staged fight choreography helps too, turning non-martial-arts actors including Ronan and her co-star Eric Bana convincingly as seasoned pros. The story, in the meantime, offers something unique out of your usual action thriller revolving around an assassin. Let’s just say it plays like an arthouse Brothers Grimm-style modern fairy-tale version of “The Bourne Identity”.
Stream “Hanna” right here.
Now, adding to the list of female-led action movies is “Kate“, an upcoming action thriller starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead as an assassin who has 24 hours to live to exact revenge against whoever is responsible for poisoning her.
Think of it like the Jason Statham-starred “Crank” and you’ll get the idea. You can start streaming “Kate” exclusively on Netflix beginning 10 September!