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An unranked list of the best action movie of the year plus nine others that aren’t “RRR”.

The best action movies of 2022 so far

By Rob Hunter Published July 9, 2022

As part of our annual semi-annual report, our chief film critic and absolute action fan Rob Hunter has compiled a list of the best action films of 2022 so far, as of the end of June.


Hard to believe, but 2022 is already half over. A lot has happened in the world, both bad and horrific, but one constant has been a steady stream of good movies to distract us from the apocalypse to come. This midterm is a good time to take a look at the best movies released this year, and first up is a list of the top ten action movies, in alphabetical order, with no ranking, for your reading 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. Heavy action is part of it, of course, but apart from executing his fights and stunts with skill, effect and imagination, a great action film is one that doesn’t forget about the other elements. Writing, directing, production design, acting – the best action films deliver across the board while making sure the highlight is their fights, gunfights, chases and/or explosions.

As is often the case with my action lists, more than half of the titles below are from non-US directors and/or countries. America still occasionally makes absolute bangers, but the rise of CG blockbusters has dampened the quality of the action that’s coming from Hollywood, leaving the market wide open for those more enthralled with physical movement, combat prowess, and elaborate set pieces. And when non-Hollywood filmmakers use CG, I guess it’s often in extremely creative ways – yes I see you SS Rajamouli and your beautiful baby RRR.

Now read on for the best action movies of 2022…so far. (And quick note, one of this year’s big ones, Baby Assassinmade it onto my list last year because of his festival appearances.)


ambulance

ambulance

Michael Bay has been making big, explosive action films for decades, and some of them are all-timers in the genre. You’d be forgiven for thinking that his best work is behind him as his last good film was in 2016 13 hoursbut 2022 taught us never to ignore Mr. Bayhem. ambulance (my review) is a slick, fast-paced ride through the streets of Los Angeles where crooks hijack an ambulance and are being pursued by every county law enforcement officer. Chases, stunts, vehicle destruction and more are brought to life, and Bay’s use of drone cameras takes the technology to entirely new uses, putting viewers right in the middle of the action. Add in some big laughs and engaging character work Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul Mateen IIand Eiza Gonzalesand you have Bay’s most entertaining film since 1996 The stone.

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


The Batman

The Batman

There’s 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. This is this Matt Reeves‘ Entry into the DC Universe that wisely avoids any connection to previous DC films. The Batman (my review) is something of a coming-of-age movie, a prequel to the dark knight we already know that leaves viewers just two years behind in his vigilante efforts, and he’s not exactly an expert yet. The action is full of punches as Batman and Catwoman punch and kick their way through baddies, and we also get some muscular auto action thanks to a souped-up Batmobile. Sure, there’s more whining than hammering at 175 minutes, but it still delivers the goods.

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


Everything everywhere at once

Everything everywhere at once

While most of the action movies on this list are just that, action movies is the newest movie of The Daniels – it’s her sequel to 2016’s endlessly creative Swiss army man – is a comedy, drama, sci-fi masterpiece in every sense. Michelle Yeoh stars as a wife, mother and laundry owner whose life hasn’t been as special as she’d hoped. That all changes, however, when the world of alternate universes and living supervillains calls. Soon she sees other worlds, becomes another self, and fights like Michelle Yeoh. The fights here are effectively stylish yet impressive, and there’s a playful energy to them thanks to their wonderfully nonsensical approach (e.g. fighting two guys with dildos up their butts). Everything everywhere 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 since this is a best action list, you really shouldn’t be surprised. Choi Jae-hoonDirector of 2020’s Awards The Swordsman, returns with a contemporary tale of redemption and revenge. A retired hitman is tasked with babysitting his wife’s boyfriend’s daughter, but this simple job takes a turn when she is kidnapped. The story never gets more complicated than in The killer, but who cares when the fights, knife games, and gunfights are so damn entertaining. Including this one might be a bit of a cheat since it won’t open until mid-July, but I’ve already seen it so it counts. I said it counts!

Available in cinemas from July 13th.


The princess

The princess

Hi

Speaking of films that technically won’t start until the second half of 2022, The princess (my review) is perhaps the most unlikely entry to make this year’s cut. A 20th Century Studios release demoted to a Hulu Original, this version of the well-known fables we all know stars joey king (!) as a princess tasked with marrying an invading prince. She says no to that and we head off to the races – the movie basically starts with her waking up at the top of a tower and having to fight her way back down to the ground. It’s an inversion mugged! The film is directed Le van Kiet (2019s furywho also made this year’s Best Action list), co-stars Veronica Ngo and Olga Kurylenko, and features some really fun and exciting combat sequences. King and her stunt double did a great job, delivering creative and satisfying action beats throughout.

Available on Hulu starting July 1st.


This list of the best action movies of 2022 (so far) ends on the next page…

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Related topics: Half-Year Report

Rob Hunter was writing for Film School Rejects before you were born, which is odd considering he’s so damn young. He’s our chief film critic and associate editor and lists Broadcast News as his all-time favorite film. Feel free to say hello if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.

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