Although action movies have made strides made in recent years, they could still use far more female-centered stories. Netflix is adding to that roster with The Mother, which follows an assassin who comes out of hiding to protect a daughter she left earlier in life.
With the arrival of The Mother, and its celebration of women who kick ass and take names, we’ve put together a list of great female-centered action movies that you can watch the second the credits on The Mother start to roll. The movies on this list all have a combination of bracing action, compelling plots, and crucially, great lead performances.
Charlize Theron has proven to be one of our great modern action movie heroines, and The Old Guard is a great showcase for everything she can do. Theron stars as a woman incapable of dyning who leads a team of other immortals as they attempt to make the world a better place.
What makes the movie work, in addition to its consistently compelling set pieces, is the weariness that Theron and the rest of the cast bring to their roles. This is a story about people who have lived in the world for centuries, and are getting a little tired of watching humans mess everything up.
Gina Carano’s politics aside, there was a time when she was one of the most exciting stars in action filmmaking, and Haywire showcases her at the peak of her powers. The film follows Carano’s government operative as she’s double-crossed by the agency she’s dedicated her life to. After she’s left for dead, she vows to find the people responsible and learn exactly why she was betrayed.
This plays out in a series of one-on-one fight scenes that are all inventively staged and involve a series of increasingly famous and compelling men. Haywire is a Steven Soderbergh action masterpiece, and it’s one of the most grounded films on this list.
Following a teenage assassin who has been trained by her father in the wilderness to become an elite killer, Hanna sees its young protagonist across Europe in an attempt to execute her latest mission.
As the story unfolds, Hanna begins to question the story she’s been told, and realizes that all of her skill may have a more malicious purpose than she once thought. Anchored by a brilliant central performance from Saoirse Ronan, Hanna has the scenic locales and smart fight choreography that make for a truly great action movie.
Angelina Jolie (Marvel’s Eternals) is another staple of the female-focused action movie, and Salt is one of the more underrated films in her filmography. The film was originally written with a male protagonist in mind, but it’s hard to imagine anyone besides Jolie in the title role.
She plays Evelyn Salt, an agent accused of secretly working for the Russians who goes on the run to clear her own name. It’s a tale as old as time in the action movie genre, but one that Salt pulls off well thanks to some inventive plot twists and at least one chase scene that will leave you riveted.
- Best new movies to stream on Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, HBO, and more
- The best kids movies on Netflix right now
- The best family movies on Netflix right now
- 10 best action movies of the 2010s
- The 10 best action movies of the 1980s