Play Hard

10 action movies and TV shows to get the adrenaline pumping

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Written by Chris Kingston
Published 22.08.2023


Heart of Stone


Gal Gadot takes on the Mission Impossible franchise in this brand new action spy thriller.

The Wonder Woman star plays Rachel Stone, a member of a mysterious group of elite spies known as The Charter, who is tasked with keeping a dangerous weapon from falling into the wrong hands

This globetrotting adventure features amazing stunts and beautiful locations. It also stars Jamie Dorman and Sophie Okonedo. BAFTA-nominated Tom Harper, who is known for The Woman in Black: Angel of Death(2015), takes on directing duties.

If Netflix play their cards right, they could have a brand new franchise on their hands.



Cole (Chris Evans) falls head over heels for the enigmatic Sadie (Ana de Armas), before he makes the shocking discovery that she’s a secret agent.

Before they can decide whether to go on a second date, Cole and Sadie are swept away on an international adventure to save the world.

This is the third time that Evans and Armas have stared in a movie together – see Knives Out (2019) and The Grey Man (2022) if you haven’t already – but it’s safe to say the pair have pretty good chemistry together.

This one’s directed by Dexter Fletcher of Rocket Man fame.

The Mother


Another action movie that came out a couple of months ago. This time, it’s Jennifer Lopez who’s back in action as a military-trained assassin who comes out of hiding to protect the daughter she gave up from dangerous assailants.

To quote Liam Neeson in Taken, JLo’s got a “particular set of skills” that make her a nightmare for those who cross her.

Lucy Paez, Gael Garcia Bernal and Joseph Fiennes also star. The film is directed by New Zealand director Niki Caro of Whale Rider fame and, more recently, known for Disney’s live action take on Mulan.

Honourable mention… Argylle

Coming soon to cinemas

Upcoming spy movie Argylle is based on an as-yet unpublished spy novel by Elly Conway and sees Henry Cavill (of Superman and The Witcher fame) take the lead.

Not much is known yet about the plot, but you can be sure to expect a global adventure as we follow the super spy on his travels across various exotic locations.

This one is going to be directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick Ass and Kingsman) in what we imagine will be a love letter to the James Bond franchise and the canon of classic spy movies in general.

The film will also count Sam Rockwell, Bryce Dallas Howard, Bryan Cranston, Dua Lipa, Ariana DeBose and Samuel L Jackson among its star-studded cast.




FUBAR is about a complicated father-daughter relationship between Luke Brunner (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Emma (Monica Barbaro), who are both CIA operatives but unaware of each other’s roles.

When Luke is pulled back in for one last job before he retires, he is just as shocked as Emma is to learn that they are both spies. The pair are then forced to work together as partners, which, as you’d expect, involves plenty of family drama as well as explosive action and espionage.

This is Schwarzenegger’s first action-comedy series for Netflix. And while his acting is never going to win any awards, it’s still Arnie for goodness sake! He has some great comedic moments in this one that’ll be sure to put a smile on your face.


Amazon Prime 

Global spy agency Citadel has fallen and its agents’ memories are wiped clean. Now the powerful syndicate Manticore is rising in the void, manipulating the world from the shadows.

Can Citadel agents Mason Kane and Nadia Sinh (Richard Madden and Priyanka Chopra Jonas) recollect their past and summon the strength to fight back, all while dealing with a relationship filled with secrets and lies?

Created by The Russo brothers (Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame), Citadel has big stars, high octane action, beautiful locations and a plot filled with twist and turns.

There are big plans to develop a global franchise out of this one, with Amazon already in the process of working on plenty of spin offs.

The Recruit


After his action-packed role in Black Adam, Hollywood’s newest heartthrob, and breakout star Noah Centineo lands his first leading role in action/comedy series The Recruit.

He plays Owen Hendricks, a lawyer who works for the CIA and is recruited to find threats directed at the agency. He also becomes involved in international conflicts with dangerous parties, after an asset threatens to expose her relationship to the agency.

Although he has no skills as a spy, his role becomes more like that of a secret agent as each episode progresses, with Owen increasingly risking his life as he tries to get the job done.

Special Ops: Lioness


Special Ops: Lioness is inspired by an actual US military program.

We follow Jo (Zoe Saldana) as she attempts to balance her personal and professional life at the tip of the spear in the CIA’s war on terror.

She enlists Cruz (Laysla De Oliveira), a special operations Marine, as an undercover operative in the Lioness Program, tasked with befriending the daughter of a suspected terrorist who is under surveillance by the CIA.

Morgan Freeman and Nicole Kidman also star in this intense action thriller that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

The Night Agent


If any one of these TV shows has given us ‘90s action movie vibes, it’s most definitely The Night Agent.

In this action caper, we follow Peter Sutherland (Gabriel Basso), an FBI agent with a complicated past who is delegated to answering a phone that never rings in a basement beneath the White House.

One day, that phone actually rings and Peter’s life soon changes as he is thrown into a dangerous world of espionage and conspiracy.

Based on the novel of the same name by Matthew Quirk, this is now among one of the most-watched shows on Netflix and certainly kept us guessing right ‘til the end.

Honourable mention… The Little Drummer Girl

Various streaming platforms 

If you fancy more of a classic spy drama that you may well have missed when it first came out, then The Little Drummer Girl could be the one for you.

It stars the always-watchable Florence Pugh as a young English actress recruited by Mossad to infiltrate an assassin’s terrorist cell. It’s a starring role that requires all of her acting talents, but also puts her in considerable danger.

The six-part series is an adaptation of the John le Carre novel of the same name. Alexander Skarsgard and Michael Shannon also star, and the series is directed by Park Chan Wook.

We have to admit it’s a bit of a slow burn, but overall you’re rewarded with visually stunning locations and a characteristically sensational performance by Florence Pugh, who steals the show.


Christopher Kingston
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