Five Action Movies to Stream Now

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The Brazilian federal agent Miguel Montessant (Kiko Pissolato) has just arrested a corrupt governor, Sandro Corrêa (Eduardo Moscovis), on charges of embezzling public funds from hospitals. But Montessant knows that regardless of the mountain of evidence facing Corrêa, he will go free, aided by a corrupt government. Worst yet, an errant bullet strikes Montessant’s young daughter while she is on the way to a Brazilian soccer match. Although the slug injures her, what kills her is the inadequate care provided by an underfunded hospital. Now the once straightedge agent wants revenge.

Based on the Brazilian graphic novel “O Doutrinador,” the directors Gustavo Bonafé and Fábio Mendonça’s vigilante superhero film features bloody and brutal murders set to a raucous punk score. During a protest, Montessant dons a gas mask with red-lighted vision and beats the governor with his bare hands to a bloody pulp. He later teams with a hacker (Tainá Medina) to hunt down the other dishonorable governmental string pullers. The glut of American superhero films can obscure the richness of the genre, especially its potential for political statements. But “The Awakener,” even in its depravity, refreshingly restores that power of meaning.

Stream it on Amazon.

In the director Sukumar’s epic action flick, a low-wage laborer named Pushpa (Allu Arjun) is forced to illegally harvest a rare wood that only grows in the Seshachalam Hills of southeastern India. Despite his unkempt appearance, Pushpa is the prototypical action hero: stoic, egotistic and defiant of authority figures, particularly the local capitalistic businessmen and corrupt cops. He’s the kind of Joe cool, who, when offered water after a merciless beating, extends the refreshment to his huffing torturer.

“Pushpa: The Rise” is an origin story. The single-named hero advances through the ranks of the smuggling operation, wrestling power from a ruthless dealer along the way. The big musical numbers and clean, fluid fight choreography are enrapturing. Pushpa’s escape from underworld thugs is so hilariously outlandish (he careens through a jungle blindfolded), I immediately wanted the sequel.

Rent or Buy on most major platforms.

On its face, the story of a genetically engineered being created to foster immortality in humans would seem primarily like science fiction. But the film has more up its sleeve. The dehumanizing scientists call this creature the Specimen, yet his real name is Seobok (Park Bo-Gum), a clone made from stem cells, impenetrable to disease. With his higher brain function he can even manipulate matter. The latter ability puts him in the terrain of mutants, making the South Korean director Lee Yong-ju’s film another crisp, adventurous reimagining of the superhero subgenre.

The American and South Korean governments would rather this clone did not exist. They believe an immortal world, filled with ambivalent humans, could lead to extinction. Chief Ahn (Woo-jin Jo), the head of an intelligence agency, brings on the former operative Ki Heon (Gong Yoo) to help transfer Seobok to a safer location.

Massive, Christopher Nolan-style set pieces fill Lee’s film (Ki Heon drives a semi-truck through a brick wall). Unlike other blustery superhero flicks, however, an existential dread consumes this movie: “If dying is like sleep, then why aren’t we afraid to sleep?” asks Seobok. These kinds of poetic reflections set the poignant “Seobok: Project Clone” apart from other, slighter action flicks.

Stream it on Netflix.

An Indian adaptation of Tom Tykwer’s “Run Lola Run,” the director Aakash Bhatia’s “Looop Lapeta” features a similar visual playfulness, gleefully experimenting with smart, dynamic compositions, while managing to add new, plentiful layers. After the former sprinter Savi (Taapsee Pannu) attempts suicide, she falls in love with the gambling grifter Satya (Tahir Raj Bhasin), a man with a smile for every occasion. They live a devil-may-care, albeit penniless life, often upended by Satya’s misguided get-rich-quick schemes.

When Satya loses $5 million of his underworld boss’s money on a bus, however, they discover a trouble that may be too big, even for them.

Much like Lola in the original, Savi, in trying to save Satya, becomes stuck in a time loop while learning to be a kinder person to the people around her. Fascinatingly, Bhatia maps the ancient myth of Savitri’s deception of Yama (the god of death) onto Tykwer’s Eurocentric concept, adding a uniquely Indian resonance to the action. Mixed with sharp comedy, screwball characters and idiosyncratic split screens, “Looop Lapeta” is a fun yet introspective entanglement of romance and action.

Sami Najjar (Ziad Bakri) was once a well-respected translator. But following a gaffe at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, when he mistranslated the words of his childhood friend, a Syrian boxer, he was banished from his homeland to Australia. Now, a decade later during the Arab Spring in Syria, with his activist brother Zaid kidnapped by pro-regime forces, Sami returns to find him.

The directors Rana Kazkaz and Anas Khalaf’s film, a subdued political action-thriller doubling as a character study, hinges on Bakri’s gripping performance. Sami comes back to a frightening world of random death: Snipers patrol buildings, killing squads hunt indiscriminately and the unrelenting governmental surveillance makes every move made by Sami a dangerous cat-and-mouse game. A twitchy camera, as startled as the viewer, translates Bakri’s frenetic body and his arched anguish.

Family drama ensues too: Sami’s sister Karma (Yumna Marwan) despises how Sami has hidden in Australia rather than fight, making this film about the pain of being left behind and abandoned both by family and the greater world. That potent mix of hurt and anxiety makes “The Translator” wholly unshakable.


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