2016 was a massive year in film. In addition to being the highest grossing year on record, 2016 also brought us some of the most iconic moments we’ve seen in years. It was the year that brought us the long-awaited sequel to Finding Nemo and the first Star Wars spin-off in Rogue One. It featured Batman and Superman duking it out in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the Avengers imploding in Captain America: Civil War, Matt Damon’s return to the Bourne franchise in Jason Bourne, the MCU debut of Spider-Man, and the big screen debuts of Wonder Woman, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and the Suicide Squad.
Let’s also not forget about our return to the Potter-verse in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the live action remake of The Jungle Book, the Ghostbusters reboot, Star Trek Beyond, X-Men: Apocalypse, The Secret Life of Pets, and Zootopia. The list goes on and on. All in all, 2016 was a pretty incredible year, and 2017 has the potential to be even bigger. We’ve already covered some of the most anticipated horror and sci-fi movies of 2017, and now it’s time to focus on the action genre.
Here are our 15 Most Anticipated Action Movies of 2017.
15. Sleepless – January 13th
Jamie Foxx is no stranger to the action genre, having appeared in previous hits The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and White House Down. This time he is front and center playing Vincent Downs, a Las Vegas homicide detective whose son is kidnapped after a drug heist goes awry. Seemingly in possession of the stolen goods, and with Internal Affairs breathing down his neck, Downs vows to rescue his son and seems intent on neck-chopping every person who gets in his way.
Boasting a talented cast that includes Michelle Monaghan, Gabrielle Union, Clifford “T.I.” Harris, and Scoot McNairy in addition to the aforementioned Foxx, Sleepless has all the makings of a hit. The action scenes are gritty and hard-hitting, and Foxx looks to be in his element playing the embattled Downs, a man who is surely much more than the dirty cop he’s portrayed to be. When McNairy’s Rob Novak proclaims, “I will pay every cop on our payroll to see Vincent Downs dead,” you know some heads are going to roll.
14. XXX: Return of Xander Cage – January 20th
It was fifteen years ago when Vin Diesel’s XXX first premiered way back in 2002. Following his star-making roles in Pitch Black, The Fast and the Furious, and Knockaround Guys, Diesel was tapped to play Xander Cage, an extreme sports junkie turned NSA super spy tasked with infiltrating a group of anarchists in possession of a biological weapon capable of destroying every major city on the planet. You know, that old chestnut. The film was a huge financial success mostly due to its amazing action scenes and Diesel was set to reprise the role in a sequel but had to drop out due to commitments to The Pacifier.
The franchise soldiered on with Ice Cube as its star in 2005’s XXX: State of the Union, but the film failed at the box office, and so Vin Diesel is scheduled to return in the aptly titled XXX: Return of Xander Cage. In addition to featuring a stellar cast (Diesel, a returning Samuel L. Jackson and new additions Toni Collette, Donnie Yen, Ruby Rose, and Tony Jaa), the film will no doubt push the limits with its action set pieces, leading to one hell of a wild ride for audiences.
13. John Wick: Chapter 2 – February 10th
John Wick is one of the best action movies to come out of 2014 (no seriously, go watch it). This should come as no surprise to anyone paying attention for the last twenty-five years since the film stars Keanu Reeves, a genre stalwart since 1992. Having starred in films like Point Break (the original, not the awful remake), Speed, and The Matrix trilogy, Reeves knows what it takes to make a good action movie: a relatable hero with strong motivation (they killed his dog, dangit!) and an actor willing to do the dirty work in performing his own stunts.
Reeves is one of the few actors in Hollywood to do his own stunts, and it shows. The action sequences in John Wick are stellar, and it looks like John Wick: Chapter 2 will be more of the same (and that’s a good thing). This time there’s an international contract on Wick’s head, which means assassins the world over are gunning for him. In response, Wick says, “Whoever comes, I’ll kill them. I’ll kill them all!” Expect a lot of gun fights, a heck of a lot more headshots, and one hell of a fun ride.
12. The Great Wall – February 17th
History tells us the Great Wall of China was built to protect the nation from foreign invaders. According to The Great Wall, the wall was built not as a defense against human invaders, but much more mythical ones. Set some time during the Song Dynasty, The Great Wall stars Matt Damon (a controversial casting choice, to say the least) as a European mercenary who vows to fight against the aforementioned beasts hell-bent on infiltrating the wall and feeding on every living thing that lies beyond it.
As far as action films go, you won’t find very many with a better director-actor tandem than this one. Yimou Zhang (director of Hero and House of Flying Daggers) has already proven his worth, and Damon (having appeared in the Bourne series, Green Zone, and Elysium) is certainly no slouch. These two combined with the film’s fantasy-elements (come on, it’s humans versus monsters) form a potent mix that will undoubtedly lead to some breathtaking action sequences. (The shots of Damon and others leaping off the wall into the unknown below are simply astounding.) And there’s even a scene where Damon hurls his shield like he’s freakin’ Captain America. Sign us up!
11. Collide – February 24th
How far would you go for the one you love? That simple question is the basis for Collide, a film in which Casey (Nicholas Hoult) is forced to do everything he can to raise $250,000 for a kidney transplant for his girlfriend Juliette (Felicity Jones). This means reaching out to his old employer Geran (Sir Ben Kingsley) to rob a truck full of drugs that belong to ruthless gang leader Hagen (Sir Anthony Hopkins). When things go bad and Juliette is kidnapped by Hagen, Casey does everything in his power to get her back.
Directed by Eran Creevy (Welcome to the Punch) and featuring what seem to be delightfully hammy performances by Kingsley and opkins, Collide looks like it will be a fun ride from start to finish. The car chase scenes look absolutely insane (just check out the truck being forced off the road in the trailer) and following his roles in the X-Men films, Warm Bodies, and Mad Max: Fury Road, Nicholas Hoult seems more than capable of playing the leading man. Plus, who doesn’t love Felicity Jones?
10. Free Fire – March 17th
Based on the trailer, Free Fire looks like it could be one of the funnest movies of the year. The plot is pretty straightforward: an arms deal goes south when the sellers bring the wrong guns to the transaction. The buyers want the guns they asked for. The sellers want to take the money and leave, and chaos ensues. The rest of the film seems to consist of gun fights, quipping, and a boat load of swearing.
Setting a film almost entirely in one location (in this case, the warehouse where the deal was set to take place) is bold. But when you throw in some interesting characters, snappy dialogue, and enough guns to take over a small country, then there’s enormous potential for great action and comedy. Plus, the cast is top notch with Sharlto Copley (District 9), Armie Hammer (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.), Brie Larson (Room), Cillian Murphy (Inception), and Jack Reynor (Sing Street) all seemingly firing on all cylinders (pun intended).
9. CHiPs – March 24th
The trend of turning successful television sitcoms into movies is far from new. Charlie’s Angels, The Brady Bunch, The A-Team, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Addams Family, The Dukes of Hazzard, and 21 Jump Street (to name a few) all started out on the small screen before finding their way to the big one, with varying degrees of success. 21 Jump Street was a fun update to the original series. The A-Team, not so much. And next in line is CHiPs.
Written, directed, and starring Dax Shepard (Hit and Run), the film boasts an impressive cast that’s led by Shepard as Jon Baker and Michael Pena (Ant-Man) as Frank “Ponch” Poncherello. If Pena can capture some of the magic he had in Ant-Man (where he practically stole the show as Scott Lang’s bestie, Luis) then the film is practically guaranteed to be a riot. Throw in its R rating and the leeway that comes with it, and what are sure to be hilarious cameos by the original cast and you’ve got a recipe for success.
8. The Fate of the Furious – April 14th
Let’s summarize The Fast and the Furious films thus far. After the first film, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, and Jordana Brewster bailed, leaving only Paul Walker returning for the sequel. 2 Fast 2 Furious introduced Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Tyrese Gibson but the two (along with Walker) vanished by the third film. Then the core four returned for Fast and Furious where Letty (Rodriguez) was killed. Then the Rock, Gibson, and a slew of others were added to Fast Five. Then Letty returned from the dead in Furious 6, and then Kurt Russell and Jason Statham joined the cast for Furious 7.
And that brings us to The Fate of the Furious (get it? Fast 8=F8=Fate. Come on, it’s kind of clever), the eighth entry in the franchise that will see Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto turning his back on his family. It’s a brilliant little twist on the Furious mythos (since Dom has always been about family above all else) that will once again inject some life into the franchise. Throw in the returning cast (including Russell and Statham), the debuting Charlize Theron, and that freaking submarine chase and you’ve got a movie that we can’t wait to see.
7. Baywatch – May 26th
One thing we can all agree on is the fact that Dwayne Johnson makes everything better. The G.I. Joe, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Fast and the Furious franchises all received significant box office bumps when Johnson came on board, and his solo outings (e.g. Hercules, San Andreas, and Central Intelligence) were also well received by audiences across the globe. Basically, if the man wants to join your family, let him.
Following the premiere of The Fate of the Furious in April, Johnson will once again flex his acting muscles in Baywatch, the big screen adaptation of the series that debuted in 1989 and lasted twelve seasons. With a talented cast that includes Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, and Priyanka Chopra, some intense action scenes, irreverent humor (it is, after all, directed by Seth Gordon who also helmed Horrible Bosses), and the always likable Johnson, Baywatch will be a wildly fun ride. Plus, Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff are set to make cameos. And who doesn’t want to see the Rock the Hoff sharing the big screen?
6. Dunkirk – July 21st
There are few directors working today whose films are more highly anticipated than those of Christopher Nolan, which is why he is currently Hollywood’s highest-paid director. In fact, each of his last four films has grossed over $675 million worldwide, and his last two Batman entries cracked one billion. He is an auteur in every sense of the word, choosing to both write and direct his films, and opting for the use of practical effects as opposed to CGI whenever possible (if you haven’t yet, check out the behind-the-scenes footage of the zero gravity fight in Inception).
Next on the list is Dunkirk, based on the battle of the same name and the evacuation of more than 400,000 soldiers that took place during World War II. With Nolan behind the camera and Cillian Murphy (The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception) and Tom Hardy (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises), in front of it, Dunkirk is without a doubt one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year in any genre. Could it finally get Nolan a nomination for Best Director? It’s hard to know for sure, but we expect this film to be one of the best of the year by far.
5. Baby Driver – August 11th
Edgar Wright is back! Four years removed from his most recent film, and three years after his stunning departure from Marvel, the incredible director of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and The World’s End makes his triumphant return (well, behind the camera anyway) in Baby Driver, a film about a getaway driver who suffers from tinnitus. For those unfamiliar with the term (don’t feel bad, we had to look it up too), tinnitus is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. As a result, Baby (the main character, played by Ansel Elgort) listens to music to drowned out the sound.
According to Wright, the action of the film will be choreographed to sync with the music playing in Baby’s ears. Considering Wright’s unique visual style, adding a pronounced audio element should create a feast for the eyes and ears. And with a cast that includes Lily James, Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey, Jon Bernthal, and Jamie Foxx in addition to Elgort, expect Baby Driver to be one of the most entertaining films of the year.
4. The Hitman’s Bodyguard – August 18th
A bodyguard (Ryan Reynolds) is tasked with protecting a hit man (Samuel L. Jackson) until the latter is able to testify before the International Court of Justice in order to put away a ruthless dictator (Gary Oldman). The set-up to The Hitman’s Bodyguard sounds eerily similar to Safe House, in which Reynolds was forced to protect a rogue CIA agent played by Denzel Washington, but this time the characters played by Reynolds and Jackson are enemies. Considering their roles as bodyguard and hitman, we can only assume Jackson has taken out (or at least attempted to) a few of Reynolds’ charges in the past.
Reynolds and Jackson are two of the most charismatic actors in Hollywood. The two of them playing opposite one another will be compelling. The two of them playing characters who hate each other will be explosive. With Oldman, Salma Hayek, and Élodie Yung (Gods of Egypt, Netflix’s Daredevil) rounding out the cast and director Patrick Hughes (The Expendables 3) at the helm, The Hitman’s Bodyguard sounds like a blast.
3. Granite Mountain – September 22nd
Granite Mountain tells the true story of the Yarnell Hill fire that took place in Yarnell, Arizona in the summer of 2013 and claimed the lives of nineteen firefighters. It was the worst firefighter disaster the state has ever seen, and the sixth-deadliest in the history of the U.S. The film will surely follow a path similar to Lone Survivor and last year’s Deepwater Horizon, both of which were based on true events, and given director Joseph Kosinski’s directing resume (Tron: Legacy, Oblivion), Granite Mountain should feature many terrific action sequences and breathtaking moments.
The acting will be top notch as well. Ben Hardy (X-Men: Apocalypse), Jennifer Connelly (Noah), Taylor Kitsch (True Detective), Miles Teller (Bleed for This), Josh Brolin (Everest), and Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) make up one of the best casts of any film this year. When Kosinski’s direction puts audiences on the edge of their seats, the cast will be there to tug at the heart strings. Cue the tears.
2. Kingsman: The Golden Circle – October 6th
What John Wick did to 2014, Kingsman: The Secret Service did to 2015: own it. In hindsight, the film had an embarrassment of riches. With Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class) at the helm, and a cast that included Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, Michael Caine, and newcomer Taron Egerton (who stole the show), the expectations were sky high and Kingsman delivered. It was stylish, funny, and the action scenes were downright incredible. It was only fitting the film receive a sequel.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle has Vaughn once again in the directing chair and a cast that includes Halle Berry, Julianne Moore, Channing Tatum, and Jeff Bridges. Little is known about the plot other than the Kingsman will join forces with their American counterparts, the Statesman. To be totally honest, we don’t need to know the plot to add this to our list of most anticipated action movies of 2017. The mere fact that it is a Kingsman sequel is enough. But anticipating the hijinks that will ensue when British and American secret agents are forced to collaborate is the icing on the cake.
1. The Commuter – October 13th
It may be hard to believe but one of the biggest action stars of the past decade is none other than Liam Neeson. That’s right, since his role in 2009’s Taken, the 64-year-old actor has starred in numerous action films including two Taken sequels, Unknown, The A-Team, The Grey (in which he fights wolves with his bare hands), Non-Stop, and Run All Night, and he’ll return to the genre once more in The Commuter, which tells the story of an ordinary businessman who gets caught up in a criminal conspiracy during his daily commute.
With Jaume Collet-Serra (who directed last year’s The Shallows and previously worked with Neeson in Unknown, Non-Stop, and Run All Night) behind the camera, and Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, and Sam Neill alongside Neeson in front of it, The Commuter looks like it will be another hard-hitting, gritty action flick to continue Neeson career renaissance. May he continue to punch people in the throat for years to come.
So what did you think of our list? Are there any other action movies coming out in 2017 that you can’t wait to see? Let us know in the comments.